When I started the blog in 2014, my experience with Asian cuisine was limited to General Tso’s chicken and other Americanized Chinese foods.
That’s why my first trip to Hong Thanh in Wyomissing was so eye-opening. It was my first taste of Vietnamese cuisine and my first time enjoying an authentic, composed dish (read: something that wasn’t chicken in sauce over rice).
Hong Thanh was originally located in downtown Reading. Some Sundays after church, Julie and I would drive past the old restaurant. The Hong Thanh name was still written on the window. It looked untouched from the time the restaurant moved to Wyomissing until the day it was announced it was moving back into the city with a new name, Lang Restaurant.
Julie and I visited on a Wednesday evening (the restaurant is open evenings only, Wednesday through Sunday) and were one of just two couples in the restaurant. Two more groups and a few take-out customers came through during our time, but it was definitely a quiet night.
The dining room is beautiful – a little modern and a little classic, Asian-influenced without being kitschy. It felt like a downtown dining destination should feel like. Only a closer inspection, on the long walk to the men’s room, reveals the plywood wall behind the hostess counter that separates the finished dining area from the rest of the building.
We started our meal with the shredded pork roll – pork wrapped in rice paper with lettuce and peanuts served with Lang dipping sauce.
These were a great start to the meal. The roll itself was very good, if a little chewy, but mixed with the Lang sauce, it took it to another level.
Lang sauce is the house fish sauce, a little spicy with sweet and salty notes. You can see the red pepper flakes, you can taste the ginger. It’s a simple sauce that made the rolls go down easy.
We hadn’t quite finished our appetizers when the entrees arrived. Giant entrees. Entrees big enough to be shared.
I had ordered the grilled chicken and rice vermicelli bowl. On top of the vermicelli noodles were piles of grilled chicken, carrots, snow peas, bean sprouts, broccoli, pickled carrot, and crushed peanuts.
The ingredients were fresh and well-prepared, but it was the Lang sauce that made it a meal. I dipped my fork in the sauce (sadly, I don’t think I will ever be able to properly use chopsticks) before picking up a forkful of the vegetables, chicken or rice noodles. I wanted to make sure that every bite had a little of that delicious sauce.
The meal was painstakingly slow to eat, not because of the dipping, but because all of the vegetables were cooked to al dante. That meant small bites and lots of chewing, but it was worth it to savor such a fine dish.
Julie had a very different noodle dish, the house special crispy lo mein.
Instead of the traditional boiled noodles, the dish featured deep-fried egg noodles with shrimp, chicken, pork and a vegetable medley (red onion, water chestnut, broccoli, green beans and more), stir fried in “brown sauce.”
Brown sauce is typically a combination of soy sauce, broth and other ingredients. It didn’t cover every noodle, but that was just fine as the noodles were very good on their own. Julie also appreciated the fact that the dish came with three different meats because it meant that she didn’t have to choose.
For both of us, more than half of our entrees went home with us for later. Julie was impressed that her noodles remained somewhat crispy even through the reheating process.
As tempting as Vietnamese banana cake and steamed coconut cups sounded, dessert was not in the cards.
Our total at the end of the meal was about $45, which also included a glass of fresh limeade for Julie.
We also spent $2 for parking at the Reed and Court Street Garage ($2 for one hour, and we made it from entry to exit in 58 minutes).
During our meal, we saw co-owner and restaurant namesake Lang Huynh come out and survey the room, the sign of someone dedicated to their craft.
He never approached our table, but if he had, I’d say the same thing I’m saying here. My compliments to the chef.
Ambiance: Very Good
Service: Very Good
22 N. Sixth Street
Reading, PA 19601
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