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Silent H Not Deaf to New York's Pleas for Vietnamese

“I don’t miss anything about California except Mexican food and Vietnamese food,” says Vinh Nguyen, a onetime UCLA premed who fell into the hospitality business as a bar back at Santa Monica’s legendary Father’s Office. Since moving east three years ago, Nguyen has found New York’s Vietnamese options sorely lacking, especially when compared to the home cooking of his mother, an immigrant who left school at 9 to sell street food in Hue. The problem, as he sees it, is laundry-list menus that are too hit-or-miss, combined with “atmospheres” defined by single-white-napkin dispensers and dirty bathrooms.