As a frequent volunteer for FIRST Robotics, I often find myself having to spend the occasional weekend as a guest judge staying in towns that I’m normally close enough to that I’d just visit them during the day, but due to the early hour that Robotics kicks off, it’s nice staying close by. This also gives me an opportunity to check out some of the local towns in a bit more culinary detail. This year, I was spending a lot of time in Windham, so I ended up getting a room in Nashua. I’ve enjoyed a few places around Nashua before, like Martha’s Exchange or Vietnam Noodle House, but this time, I was craving a gyro. Many other places I’ve lived, gyro joints were a dime a dozen, but in New Hampshire for some reason, they are somewhat rare (although Manchester has a few, like the very good Gyro Spot). But I had noticed that since my last visit, Nashua had added Main St Gyro, so I had to give it a try.
I’ve had a rather strong love of Vietnamese food since discovering it in the early 1990s. And I’ve been relatively blessed to have some decent places to get Vietnamese food in most of the places I’ve lived. East Lansing, MI wasn’t exactly a culinary mecca, but it did have Saigon Restaurant, which was a reliable source of Phở for my college years. Minneapolis was chock full of Vietnamese (and Cambodian) places, most of them very delicious. And I’ve even enjoyed watching the demographics of my parents’ neighborhood in Arizona change, with several good Vietnamese places popping up within a mile of their house. Northern New Hampshire, however, is basically bereft of Vietnamese food. When we moved here, we discovered that not only did the area not have any Vietnamese restaurants, but almost nobody up here even knew what Vietnamese food was. After some web searching and talking around (including a brief period at work where I had a Vietnamese coworker), we discovered the unfortunate fact: Vietnamese food required traveling at least to Nashua to the Southeast, or Williston to the Northwest, in order to find a Vietnamese place. So we hopped in the car and checked things out. Fast forward almost a dozen years, and the situation isn’t much changed. You can actually buy sriracha sauce in the stores now. And Golden Bowl now offers Phở in Manchester, NH. And quite a few places have come (and gone, even) around Burlington. But generally, that means a craving for Phở, cha gio, or any other Vietnamese food requires a road trip. So this weekend, when we found ourselves passing through Nashua after a weekend shopping trip, we decided it was time for another visit to Vietnam Noodle House.