Over the weekend, before we hit the one day pedestrian pop-up plaza in Astoria, we found our way to Cyclo, the new Vietnamese restaurant in Long Island City. There hasn’t been a Vietnamese restaurant in the area before now, so locals are pretty excited about this new development. Cyclo offers a range of Vietnamese specialties – banh mi sandwiches, spring rolls, vermicelli noodle salads, and pho.
We tried a few things and they were all pretty tasty. The restaurant is located right around the corner from the newish Petey’s on Vernon Blvd. Here’s the outside of the restaurant, with a sweet bicycle in front.
The dining room space is casual with red and black dominating the color scheme. These seats are comfortable, too.
The drink menu contains things like iced Vietnamese coffee, and Vietnamese espresso with condensed milk – they use Café du Monde coffee, made with chicory, which is a common practice in local Vietnamese restaurants. You’ll also find bubble tea, which is beginning to make a real dent into Western Queens. Our server also recommended the homemade ginger lemon soda. We chose to go with the less conventional homemade pickled plum soda ($3). As you can see in the photo, it has pieces of real plum floating around in the drink.
It was good – salty, a little sweet, but not with the tang you might expect pickled plums to have. It had strong flavors, and went well with everything we ate. Speaking of what we ate, we started with Charred Beef Skewers with Basil Dipping ($6). The “Dipping” was a kind of basil aioli. The beef was very tasty and the combination with the aioli worked.
Next was the banh mi sandwich. We went with the Traditional Banh Mi Sandwich ($8), which our server also recommended. First impression was that the bread was too soft and dense. The fillings – meat, pickled carrots, cucumber, and cilantro – were good. They went light on the hot sauce since we only wanted things a little spicy. Overall the flavors were good, it’s just the bread that was a sticking point.
We also tried one of the clay pot dishes, which was excellent. This is Clay Pot Ginger Chicken ($10).
The chicken, mostly dark meat, was unbelievably tender and moist (that’s clay pot cooking for you). It came atop rice that soaked in all the flavors, and a couple of chunks of meaty mushrooms. This was a real winner.
All of this food came to about $40 with tax and tip.
Cyclo, 5-51 47th Ave., Long Island City, NY 11101; 718-786-8309 (GMAP)