A restaurant with a number in its name, which serves a fusion of Vietnamese and Mexican food, should be a disaster. Somehow, 5ive Spice has achieved an impossible feat, and defies all expectations its name and concept provide.
We honored our suspicious instinct on our first few visits, and ordered the truly Vietnamese options i.e. the pho. The broth is elegantly spiced, meaty but not fatty, and so fragrant. When you take a spoonful, you feel its healing and comforting powers. Slurp up the noodles, chew the extremely generous portions of meat, and sprinkle on as much cilantro, basil, lime, and chiles as your tastebuds desire. Every bowl is huge, but you'll finish every last drop. That broth is too good to leave behind.
When you do trust this place enough to venture further afield on the menu, you'll have a revelation that these two cuisines can indeed be successfully combined. Tacos filled with lightly pickled veg and lemongrass grilled chicken are terrifyingly addictive; and grilled corn, it turns out, makes a great accompaniment to a bright rice vermicelli salad (pictured above).
No alcohol is served, and the prices are incredibly reasonable. You'll be heading back for another bowl of healing pho as soon as the next rainy day arrives.
5ive Spice, 52 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217.