Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Sail away to Ha Long Bay

Nick Nuth (left) and Thuy Doan enjoy Salty Spicey Shrimp, Vietnamese Cubed Steak and String Beans with Tofu at Ha Long Bay. "The food here is more authentic,"Doan said.

Nick Nuth (left) and Thuy Doan enjoy Salty Spicey Shrimp, Vietnamese Cubed Steak and String Beans with Tofu at Ha Long Bay. "The food here is more authentic,"Doan said.

What: Ha Long Bay

Address and phone: 6304 E. Broadway, in El Mercado Plaza, 571-1338

Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon-9 p.m. Sundays

Specialty: Vietnamese cuisine

What was ordered: One sailboat shrimp appetizer for $5.95, one dumpling appetizer for $6.95, and lemon grass spicy chicken for $5.95. Including tax, the total came to the cost of this newspaper plus $20 with three cents left over, or just 38 cents more than the Cheap Eats goal of a meal for $20.

Comments: One bite of the sailboat shrimp is all it took for Ha Long Bay to become my new favorite place.

OK, I’ll concede that I’m easily smitten. I can have a new favorite place every week, sometimes even twice a week if I’m lucky. But this appetizer is a marvel of simplicity: chopped shrimp spread on white sandwich bread, fried to golden crispiness, and then sliced up into triangles, like the sails you might see slicing across the famous body of water after which this East Side restaurant is named. It’s served with a rich, dark peanut sauce.

(If you really want to impress your dining companions, Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is among 830 locations around the world that have been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The list also includes the Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty.)

Just as delicious were the steamed dumplings: six puffy little pillows stuffed with a flavorful chicken concoction and served with a slightly sweet dipping sauce.

Our pair of apps and one lunch entree proved more than enough for two solid meals. The chicken entree we opted for was a delight, with loads of fresh green onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and – best of all – thick slices of ginger. It comes with a palm-size mound of rice and a cup of egg noodle soup.

Ha Long Bay celebrates its third anniversary next month. The bad thing is that I’ve only just discovered it. The good thing is that, as my new favorite place, I’ll be returning regularly.

Service: Friendly and efficient

Bar: Wine and Vietnamese beer

Vegetarian options: many, including egg noodle soup with vegetables and tofu for $6.50, stir-fired egg noodles with vegetables for $6, and double mushrooms with vegetables for $5.95

Dessert: Yes, fried banana pie for $3.95

Currency: Green and plastic

Takeout: Yes

Children’s options: At the very least, rice and noodles

Most recent health inspection: A “good” rating Aug. 3, when three violations were found. Potentially hazardous foods were not held at proper cooling temperature; food separation, packaging, segregation and substitution methods were not preventing food and ingredient contamination; and noncritical items were not in compliance. All were corrected during the inspection. In the previous seven inspections, the restaurant received six “good” ratings and one “excellent.”

The offerings at Ha Long Bay, 6304 E. Broadway, include Sugar Cane Shrimp with dipping sauce.

The offerings at Ha Long Bay, 6304 E. Broadway, include Sugar Cane Shrimp with dipping sauce.

The offerings at Ha Long Bay, 6304 E. Broadway, include fresh summer rolls with shrimp and pork.

The offerings at Ha Long Bay, 6304 E. Broadway, include fresh summer rolls with shrimp and pork.

The offerings at Ha Long Bay, 6304 E. Broadway, include Pho Ha Long Bay soup made of beef, rice noodles and onions with greens and several sauces.

The offerings at Ha Long Bay, 6304 E. Broadway, include Pho Ha Long Bay soup made of beef, rice noodles and onions with greens and several sauces.

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This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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