There's an adorable new restaurant in Far North Dallas serving Vietnamese street food including a trendy item that puts ramen inside a burrito. Called Cris and John Vietnamese Street Food, it comes from Cristina Mendez and John Pham, a young married couple and pair of foodies who based their restaurant on Pham's first-hand knowledge of Vietnamese street food.
A native of Ho Chi Minh City, Pham grew up exploring the vibrant energy of the city's street food cart scene.
"We both had restaurant experience, and we both love food," Mendez says. "From the beginning, we shared a love for food and for business, and knew we would have to open a restaurant together."
Their menu includes some items that are familiar such as dumplings and pho. But there are other dishes you won't easily find elsewhere.
"With the menu, we definitely wanted to do something different," Mendez says. "We call ourselves 'Vietnamese street food with a twist.' We have some authentic dishes you can't find in Dallas that we took from the streets of Vietnam, and also some dishes from the West Coast."
Exhibit A: the phorrito, in which all the ingredients of pho — minus the broth — are wrapped up like a burrito. Seared steak, fried shallots, basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, jalapenos, onion, rice noodles, hoison, and Sriracha sauce are wrapped in a flour tortilla. There's also the phorrito's identical cousin, the ramenrrito, with grilled chicken, ramen, kimchi, fried shallots, cilantro, and house sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla.
"We have an appetizer called Vietnamese rice paper, where we take a piece of rice paper and scramble some egg, Sriracha sauce, green onion, corn, and shredded hot dogs and fold it all up like an omelet," Mendez says. "It gets crispy and crunchy from the rice paper."
Another dish they dub "Deep Fried Everything" combines skewers with beef meatballs, fish balls, hot dog, and tofu, served with a side of dipping sauce. "Skewers are really popular in Vietnam," Mendez says.
There are street fries, in which fresh cut french fries are topped with shredded pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, cilantro, jalapenos, mayo, sriracha, and a runny egg; and Korean fries, topped with kimchi, cilantro, jalapenos, and egg.
There are three kinds of sandwich options: buns, tacos, or banh mi, which you can get with fillings such as honey glazed chicken, Korean sirloin steak, fried chicken spam, and a veggie option with lemongrass and ginger fried tofu.
Having vegetarian and vegan options was important. And since they are Seventh-day Adventists, they do not serve alcohol, pork, or shrimp. That also explains why they are closed on Saturdays, which is the day they go to church.
"We knew from the beginning that we wanted it to be vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, and we fry those items in a separate fryer," Mendez says.
The restaurant is in an odd center next to a gas station and laundromat. But they've transformed the space into something magical with a hand-drawn pastel mural depicting a street scene from Vietnam that covers an entire wall, and a charming food cart in the corner. There's also a wall display of conical Asian hats, sent to the couple by Pham's mother, who still lives in Vietnam.
"My husband's mom collected those — she's sent us many things from Vietnam," Mendez says.