For years, if you drove down Broadway Street in northeast Minneapolis, you'd pass a shuttered Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant across from Beltrami Park.
Then, a little over a week ago, new life stirred in the nondescript storefront. Suddenly, the tiny kitchen of Lien Son has come back to life, whipping up pho, com, bun, and other authentic Vietnamese favorites, plus some Chinese-American standards.
Nordeasters hungry for big bowls of noodle soup and sesame chicken will be glad to know the family-run restaurant is open and ready for business.
On a recent weekday afternoon, we popped in and found a clean, if spare, dining room. Kids -- this is a family joint, remember? -- tromped in from school and sat down to a quick afternoon snack of noodle soup. (Sometimes a woman called out to them from the kitchen, using a "Do not make me come out there!" tone.)
The Vietnamese portion of the menu is a straightforward and somewhat pared-down selection of classics: a half-dozen kinds of pho, four types of banh mi, com (rice and meat platters), and vermicelli noodle salads take up the first couple pages.
Pho was hot and serviceable; the Com Thit Nuong (grilled pork chop with rice) was exactly what we wanted: plump, juicy pork, grilled to a pleasant crust on the outside and served with a garnish of pickled veggies, cilantro, and cha trung, a Vietnamese egg meatloaf.
Toward the back of the menu are several pages of Chinese-American dishes, from chow mein and fried rice to egg foo young and General Tso's. Lien Son is angling to be a neighborhood amenity with these crowd-pleasers, plus the added bonus of delivery in Northeast.
If pho, the neighborhood family business, and Chinese delivery doesn't sell you on Lien Son, perhaps this will: There's a bona fide Slush Puppie machine, complete with the rotating slushie cup on top. They've got a variety of fruity flavors, so if Vietnamese iced coffee isn't your post-meal bag, grab a slushie for the road.
1216 Broadway St. NE, Minneapolis