My Lynn Cafe is located inside the new Mekong Plaza shopping centre at Dobson and Main. The shopping centre itself is unexpectedly high-class, with attractively tiled walls, a generally spotless appearance, and indoor, air-conditioned hallways between stores. My Lynn itself gives off a bit more of a “mildly trendy bar” vibe, with modern furnishings, several large plasma TVs (strangely, all playing Yanni concerts), and dark-tinted windows. A sign announces karaoke.
My Lynn is undeniably Vietnamese. The lunch menu is surprisingly brief, devoting half its bulk to listings of smoothie drinks for offer (with pictures), but only two pages of food– one of entrees, one of appetizers. The entrees range from about $6 to about $38, so I suspect– but the menu is unclear– some are intended as family portions. Most of them follow the formula of “beef over rice, or noodles, or in a soup.”
We opened with spring rolls and egg rolls. The spring rolls were dramatic– huge rolls served cold, with thick wrappers stuffed with crisp lettuce and bean-sprouts, and a hint of prawn. The egg rolls were exciting in another way– solid and dense, with plenty of meaty filling. Very different, but both impressive in their niche.
I chose the beef stew with French bread as an entree. The bread was impressive– fresh and warm, with a fair bite on the crust. The stew was decent– plenty of beef, carrots, and a bit of potato, but I was a touch surprised about its preparation. There was only a mild hint of exotic spices. It seemed like an ideal choice for someone who wasn’t sure they were comfortable with Vietnamese cuisine– as it could very easily pass in an American restaurant.
Our waitress seemed remarkably patient and reasonably competent, given nine people asking for explanations and changing their orders constantly. The dishes didn’t come out as a group, but that could be blamed on our group ordering very different items, in need of individual preparation.
I was satisfied with My Lynn. It seemed reasonably well-run, and the menu, while simple, covered a wide enough range to satisfy a diverse party without diving into “300 items we don’t really know how to prepare to fill the pages”. My primary concern is their business model. They were basically empty when we visited, and they’re one of three Vietnamese restaurants and a deli under the same roof. I wonder if they do better in the evenings or weekends, when business picks up at the surrounding shopping centre.