Vietopia Bistro is all about Vietnamese cuisine
“Vietopia” is a term invented by Kvin (pronounced “Kevin”) Doan, owner of Vietopia Bistro. He says it means “Everything about Vietnam.”
The Farmington location is Doan’s fifth Vietopia restaurant, and it’s been open about a year at Station Park.
“I love the food, and I want to let everyone get to know Vietnamese food and make it popular,” Doan said.
Doan grew up in Ho Chi Min City (formerly Saigon), in the southern part of Vietnam. At 19, he moved to America. He worked as a pharmacy technician, but “I liked cooking more.”
Besides learning cooking skills from his mother, Doan worked at a Panda Express, where he honed Chinese techniques such as stir-frying.
“My mother and I wondered why you see a lot of Chinese franchises, but no Vietnamese chains,” he said. “So I thought I’d start here in Utah and eventually get bigger.”
In 2014, he opened the first Vietopia Bistro in West Jordan. He designed the logo as a triangular-shaped Vietnamese hat (called non la) on the top side. If you turn the logo upside down, it appears as a bowl of noodles.
Over time, he added locations in Taylorsville, Draper and downtown Salt Lake City. He visited Station Park “and didn’t see any Vietnamese food here, so I decided to open something.”
Located on a Station Park side street next to Bath & Body Works, it’s a bit of a hidden gem.
Vietnamese cuisine is not only influenced by its Asian neighbors — China, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand — but also by the French who colonized the country for nearly 100 years, up until 1954. A hallmark is a balance of five taste elements: spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet.
The restaurant has an expansive menu of Vietnamese classics. The most-ordered dish is pho – the traditional beef broth noodle soup, fragrant with cinnamon, star anise, cilantro and other herbs and spices. The boiling hot broth is poured over your choice of thinly sliced meat in a bowl, instantly cooking the meat. It comes with a plate of Thai basil, lime wedges, bean sprouts and jalapeño that you can mix into the broth as you prefer.
Doan said the top favorite pho is made with rare steak and well-done brisket (numbered 18P on the menu). But you might want to try the Vietopia Special that’s more meat-heavy with steak, brisket, soft tendon, tripe and beef meatballs.
Another type of soup is the Hot & Spicy beef noodle soup. “It’s a stronger flavor than pho,” Doan said. “A lot of people love it because they want a stronger taste.”
The banh mi sandwich is a Vietnamese classic that has gone mainstream in America. A baguette is stuffed with a choice of grilled meat, topped with cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, jalapeño, soy sauce and mayo. You can choose from shrimp, pork, beef or tofu, served with sweet potato fries.
“We cook the sandwich fresh every day,” Doan said. “They are quick, but they’re better than Subway because it’s traditional, and grilled and served hot.”
A favorite salad is the grilled pork egg roll salad, which has seasoned slices of grilled pork, vermicelli (rice noodles), bean sprouts, cucumber and carrots, and a couple of crispy egg rolls.
You can also get crispy egg rolls as an appetizer. They’re filled with ground pork, carrots, onion and mung bean sprouts. They are served with fish sauce (nuoc mam), a staple Vietnamese condiment, made from fermenting salted fish.
Doan said at Vietopia, the fish sauce is adjusted “to hold down the smell but keep the original taste, so it doesn’t have such a strong, stinky smell.”
Delicate spring rolls are another favorite. Thin rice paper is wrapped around shrimp, pork, vermicelli and lettuce, and served with a peanut dipping sauce.
For those wondering, egg rolls and spring rolls are very similar, but egg rolls are cooked and spring rolls aren’t.
Vietopia has a variety of noodle and rice platters, with a choice of pork, beef, shrimp or chicken. Some are borrowed from Vietnam’s neighboring countries, such as pad thai and drunken noodles from Thailand; and Chinese stir-fries.
The restaurant also offers smoothies in tropical flavors such as passion fruit, honeydew, coconut, lychee and piña colada. And there are flavored iced teas and milk teas.
“People love our food because it’s not too hot,” Doan said, and pointed out the sriracha and other spicy condiments on the table. “You can add whatever you want if you want to make it hotter.”
Although it’s a full-service restaurant with wait staff taking your order tableside, you can also order delivery through Grub Hub, Door Dash and UberEats.
IF YOU GO
Location: 905 Forbush Place, Station Park, Farmington
Contact: (801) 447-9476 or https://www.shopatstationpark.com/store/Vietopia-Bistro/2138994602
You can order through Grub Hub, Door Dash and Uber Eats.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Prices: $12-$15 for entrees, $7 for smoothies.