Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Fragrant River of Pho

MTThe new, second Aromatnaya Reka is a huge improvement on the first.
The original Aromatnaya Reka is in many ways just what the average expat is looking for in an ethnic restaurant: authentic Asian eats for prices so low they make you laugh. Of course, such a combination requires an appropriate location -- in the case of the good old Aromatnaya Reka, it's a genuinely gritty setting among the bustling computer stalls in Savyolovsky market.

While such authenticity may be a good thing, the market isn't a pleasant spot for dinner unless you're planning to do some shopping while you're out there, so the opening of a second Aromatnaya Reka at Baumanskaya should be welcomed by fans of Vietnamese cuisine.

Not only is its location superior to the original's, the interior is a leap ahead. While the original is little better than bus depot canteen, the new restaurant has a certain refined design. The walls are clad in a thick burlap fabric and the ceiling is composed of roughly hewn wooden beams. Paper lanterns and Vietnamese music videos add a final Asian touch.

The all-Vietnamese staff nearly trip over themselves in their efforts to provide good service, which more than compensates for their sometimes weak grasp of Russian (or English for that matter).

The menu is basically the same as at the original location. Interesting exotica include four dishes from both frog legs and snails, plus five different eel choices (all 350 rubles). Notable dishes include a tasty eel soup with Vietnamese mushrooms (200 rubles), an absurdly inexpensive mushroom soup with prawns and crabsticks (100 rubles) and the traditional Vietnamese-style spicy chicken fillet with peppers (200 rubles).

Hidden at the very back of the menu are the chef's specials, which include both chicken and beef pho soups (150 rubles). These, along with the other specials, are not available at the original branch.

Other items of note include Vietnamese-style coffee (70 rubles) and the enticingly exotic alcoholic infusion containing a whole cobra snake plus berries, herbs and ginseng (100 rubles for 50 grams). More mundane beverage options include draft Baltika beer (70 rubles a half-liter).

11 Tokmakov Per., 267-3190, 139-3238, noon-2 a.m., M. Baumanskaya.