I am probably one of the few people who's never eaten at a Chipotle. Everyone I know loves it and always talks up about how fresh the food is. I'm not sure what it says about the restaurant industry when a differential for a food chain is freshness but that's another topic. One of my coworkers had heard about VN Grill and how it was "Chipotle-style" in terms of building your order and they were all about the freshness of the food.
So we decided to check it out. It's in a strip mall with, ironically, a Chipotle nearby. Yelp reviews termed VN Grill as an Asian Chipotle. The concept appears similar. You start off with the base for your bowl: either rice, noodles or salad. Add the protein you want, any extra veggie add-ons, then the sauce. I went for the rice noodles topped with VN Pork in the "signature VN marinade" and my add-ons were the lettuce, basil and cilantro. The guy behind the counter asked me if I was sure and said that I was missing the best part by not getting it with everything. I assured him I wouldn't eat the other "stuff" anyway so I was fine with the three I chose. Bean spouts, cucumbers, jalapeno? Um, no thanks. I'm glad I built it my way as I really enjoyed my plain but tasty creation. The pork was excellent and very flavorful. What veggies I did get was very fresh and the whole thing felt pretty healthy. The portion was also just right and even a tad on the generous side considering it was $7.55. An awesome bargain for a good bowl of meat and noodles.
My coworker got the same thing except hers had everything on it that I had spurned. We also got to choose our sauces. The bowls come out with the sauces in their own bottles so you can choose how much sauce you want to put on your bowl. I went with the VN sauce and it wasn't bad. But I don't tend to sauce things and found I liked the flavor of the pork on its own without a lot of sauce needed.
We also split an order of fresh shrimp rolls which I love. Much as I love the deep fried Vietnamese spring rolls, the fresh ones (of course) make me feel much more virtuous. Fresh is the key word. It was probably a little too much food but it was all good food and I think this place is a great find for lunch. We got there around noon and it wasn't crowded yet but it got busier as we ate lunch and by the time we left, all the tables were taken and there was a line almost to the door. The place isn't that big but it's a casual dining space that serves great food. I would definitely recommend it for those who want the Asian version of a Chipotle.