Flowers of Vietnam is another one of those super hot Detroit restaurants I hadn’t checked out until last weekend. I had heard so much buzz since Flowers reopened fully taking over the Vernor Coney Island spot it used to pop-up in and had heard pretty much nothing but stellar reviews of the food.
Our experience really began delightfully over the phone making reservations with Anna, the manager, who is full of energy and kindness. When we arrived at the restaurant, our waiter Preston greeted us. He’s another fantastic part of the team, offering insights and recommendations on food and detailing parts of his trip to Vietnam.
Not long after Preston introduced himself, Anna slid into the booth with us and talked about some of her favorite dishes. I felt like a regular and wanted to come back before I’d taken so much as a bite of food.
Drinks were first. Beer, both red and white wine by the glass, Green Suede Gatorade, and Letter of the Day. Letter of the Day was my rum based drink and was one of the most beautiful I have ever had. The dehydrated lime slice was not just for show, offering a bright bitterness I enjoyed. Green Suede Gatorade was the star, however. Super bright, refreshing, and acidic, it’s what I would order next time.
Then the food began coming out. We tried a lot and only missed out on the pho really. I definitely want to check it out, but it didn’t feel like a necessary addition to the table.
We began with the caramel glazed chicken wings and salt and pepper shrimp. To be honest these weren’t our favorite dishes. They were very messy and hard to eat. Also, the chicken is slightly pink and bloody in the interior. We were assured they are fully cooked and this is because they aren’t fully bled out and are then sous vide, however it’s not super appetizing.
It was all up from there, however. I can’t say enough good things about the green papaya salad with its super crunchy vegetables and spicy dressing. I think I detected some fennel which was super refreshing. The fried rice was another huge hit. The rice didn’t even look fried, but it had that classic flavor while still retaining a fluffy almost creamy texture instead of the dry takeout fried rice.
Dad ordered the rib tips and I kind of gave him the side eye. I mean when have rib tips ever been that good? But I was wrong. I was so wrong. Possibly because I wasn’t expecting it, they were my favorite dish of the night. The sticky, gooey glaze and tender, fatty meat were incredible right along with the sticky rice underneath.
The salmon dish presents the fish in a way I bet you have never experienced salmon before. Though fully cooked, the fish has a melt in your mouth quality. Ora king salmon is something I have cooked and is not my favorite in general (it has a flavor I don’t like), but our guests enjoyed the dish very much.
They featured a prime ribeye entrée that we just had to try and it did not disappoint. Often chefs talk about sous vide and I can’t tell the difference, but I really could with this steak. Both the meat and the fat had a melt in your mouth quality that was exceptional. The compound butter on top didn’t hurt either.
The pork chop with shrimp, sausage, and rice was another hit. One of the larger plates, it’s something good to order and share. I wasn’t up for sharing much of my whole fried snapper. Delicately coated and fried, somehow the interior fish was juicy and tender without being mushy like snapper can sometimes be. The forbidden rice underneath and even the spicy tomato sauce were also fantastic. I asked for the tomato on the side because I don’t typically like cooked tomatoes (this had more of a salsa vibe and I took a liking to it), but I recommend asking for it on the side anyway to allow the fish to remain crispy and keep some of the mess down.
The final dish was the fried lobster with vermicelli noodles. It was a nice dish, but not as fantastic as the ones that made up the middle of our meal.
Hot towels presented to clean hands are such a nice touch. I was ready to pull antibacterial wipes out of my purse to get the sauce off my hands, but then appeared these piping hot towels. More restaurants should really do this. I felt so refreshed.
We walked into the area with the counter seating and kitchen before we left where George Azar, the owner and chef, was cooking and photobombing my pics. He has an excellent personality, right along with everyone else we encountered. I would definitely go back for the food and also the people.
It’s hard for me not to compare Flowers to Takoi since the two main dishes I ate (the papaya salad and fried snapper) were the same at both. If you are in the area you must try both, but based on those two dishes, I have to say I enjoyed Flowers more.
After we walked a couple blocks to Mutiny Bar, an oasis in the middle of winter. The vibes were cool and the drinks were cold. That’s right, they have boozy slushies, my favorite! If you go, be sure to try Walk the Plank … you won’t be sorry. Just like we weren’t for another amazing night in Detroit.