Food News

Tale of Two Districts: Two Vietnamese Restaurants With A One Name

The dining space at District 1 in Garland.
The dining space at District 1 in Garland. Didi Paterno
If you Google “District 1 Vietnamese Dallas,” you will stumble upon two different top searches: District 1 food truck in Garland and a District One brick-and-mortar location in Carrollton. So, which is which?

The term "District One" holds significance in Vietnamese culture. It's an urban district and home to finance and foreign consulates in modern-day Saigon, or Hồ Chí Minh City. As the largest city in the country, it has a bustling and diverse street food scene. This is the only glue that holds these two North Texas district ones together.

District One: Saigon Street Food

2540 Old Denton Road (Carrollton)
Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday - Sunday
click to enlarge DIDI PATERNO
Didi Paterno
District One at the corner of Old Denton Road and the President George Bush Turnpike in Carrollton represents Vietnamese cuisine and culture in this strip mall that is home to other Asian businesses.

Owner Tom Búi is living his dream of sharing his beloved cuisine with the rest of North Texas, serving food straight from the streets Hồ Chí Minh City. His goal is to capture the traditional tastes. Hence, you will find your favorite Vietnamese staples like banh mi and pho in the long list of dishes on the menu.
click to enlarge DIDI PATERNO
Didi Paterno
But veer away from those standards and give the tastes of the streets of Vietnam a try. Bo ne, Vietnamese-style steak and eggs, will hit home for any beef-loving Texan. Tender steak, a dollop of pate, a single Vienna sausage and fried eggs over easy on a sizzling plate is eaten with a baguette.

Bánh bột chiên, pan-fried rice cake tiles mixed into beaten eggs are fried into a flat omelet. It's best with a dip into the accompanying sauce and slather of Sriracha. Of course, the owner puts his signature on his take of the banh mi, Đặc Biệt Ông Tom or Mr. Tom’s special sandwich. His secret sauce is creamy and savory, complementing the crusty baguette.

District 1 Food Truck

3212 N. Jupiter Road (Garland)

Open 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday - Sunday
click to enlarge A feast from District 1 n Garland - DIDI PATERNO
A feast from District 1 n Garland
Didi Paterno
The bright yellow District 1 food truck is hard to miss as you enter the parking lot of the Cali Saigon Mall on the corner of Jupiter Road and East Belt Line Road in Garland. It's just one of the food trucks that are parked here on weekends. Owner Dang Tran explains that the color yellow is important the Vietnamese culture as it represents fortune and prosperity. Their logo draws an outline of the gates to the historical Bến Thành Market in Hồ Chí Minh City.
click to enlarge District 1 food truck is outside the Cali Saigon Mall along Jupiter Road in Garland. - DIDI PATERNO
District 1 food truck is outside the Cali Saigon Mall along Jupiter Road in Garland.
Didi Paterno
While Mr. Tom’s District One covers the breadth of Vietnamese street food, District 1 in Garland swings the other way with a more limited offering, which is far from traditional. Here Dang draws inspiration from various restaurants he's worked in, creating unique dishes for the food truck. They not only offer a take on Vietnamese street food but add touches from neighboring Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia and Thailand.

One example is the xiên bò nướng Campuchia, grilled Cambodian beef skewers, thinly sliced marinated beef interspersed with fat that keeps the meat juicy. Another is the bánh hỏi chiên nước mắm, deep-fried vermicelli blocks form an edible plate that remains crispy with a dousing of hot sauce and a sprinkle of pork floss, tiny dried shrimp and green onions.

Try the bánh mì lộn xộn, a snack of toasted banh mi triangles topped with squiggles of mayonnaise and secret sauce, slices of hotdog, pork floss, dried, salted baby shrimp and green onions.

When available, order the bánh khoai mì nướng thơm lừng, chewy cassava cake, pressed inside a waffle maker to create the crispy exterior and edges. It looks like that familiar toaster snack, but far from it.

Set your tray of treats on the small folding tables, then squat and settle onto the low plastic stools. Or better yet, come prepared for crowded evenings and bring your own chair. Being an outdoor space means that pets are welcome too.

District One, 2540 Old Denton Road (Carrollton). Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday - Sunday.

District 1, 3212 N. Jupiter Road (Garland). Open 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday - Sunday
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