A Taste of Vietnam has taken over the former Rivage Bistro & Lounge space in Old Worthington.

A Taste of Vietnam has taken over the former Rivage Bistro & Lounge space in Old Worthington.

The restaurant is at 652 High St., at the northeast corner of High Street and New England Avenue. The deal included the Back Room, a bar down the hall on the eastern portion of the property. Each space seats about 100.

A Taste of Vietnam's storefront doesn't face High Street, which would be the most optimal situation in the current configuration.

However, that causes little concern for owner Amy Nguyen, who is betting her homemade Vietnamese fare -- a rarity in the neighborhood -- is good enough to make it a destination restaurant.

"I'm very proud of our food," she said.

Parking, or a perceived lack of it, is causing the most inconvenience for customers, Nguyen said.

"I'm a little concerned," she said. "Customers say the parking (lot) is a little small."

However, she said, the area has plenty of public spots, although not all are easily visible from High Street.

The menu will strike a familiar note for those familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, the hottest food trend in central Ohio at the moment.

A Taste of Vietnam offers several varieties of pho noodle soups using one of three homemade broths -- beef, chicken or vegetable.

Another favorite, banh mi sandwiches, come with a choice of grilled pork, grilled beef, pork roll or shredded beef on a toasted bun.

Each is garnished with homemade mayonnaise, pork-liver pate and pickled vegetables, with sliced jalapenos optional.

A Taste of Vietnam also offers a wide selection of other specialties, such as crepe platters (banh), broken-rice dishes (com tam), beef stew (bo kho), vermicelli noodle bowls filled with any number of topped with any number of ingredients and served with broth or dipping sauce (bun), and appetizers (khai vi).

Most meals cost about $10.

A Taste of Vietnam is Nguyen's first restaurant.

Nguyen is a recent graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, with a degree in international business and a minor in Mandarin Chinese. Her business plan included her family's restaurant heritage.

At 23, she knew she had the energy for the job and a business background.

"My age has been helpful," Nguyen said. "At the same time, it's been hard. Nobody believed in me."

Rivage Bistro & Lounge closed in February and the Back Room followed shortly thereafter.

After a few quick cosmetic changes, the space was ready to go, Nguyen said.

"Nobody opens a restaurant in two months," she said. "I made it happen somehow."

Friends and family pitched in.

"You realize how many friends you have, how much support you have," she said. "It's overwhelming."

Hours are 11 am. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 614-848-0378.

The Back Room is open 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary