Bringing authentic French Vietnamese food to Bridgeport

The Smoked Rare Brisket Pho featured in the noodles section of the menu.

The Smoked Rare Brisket Pho featured in the noodles section of the menu.

Olivia Foster, Staff Writer

If you’re looking for a new dining experience outside of the usual Westport suspects, head to 269 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, home of Can Tiin Restaurant. Unique dining, warm bowls of soup with sloping wooden spoons, creative decor and tasty blends of Vietnamese and French and Asian cuisine can all be found at Can Tiin, which opened in December of this past year.

“We take traditional Vietnamese dishes and honor them, but allow ourselves the latitude to experiment and go out of the box a little. We continually challenge ourselves to push the envelope without getting cute or overly fussy,” Chef Brian Reilly said in an interview with CTBites.

The menu is divided into cold, hot, noodles and dessert. The cold and hot sections of the menu are small plates suggested for sharing.  

To start off, the cold section of the menu contains three salads, the Sweet and Sour, the Hippie Salad, and the Vietnamese, as well as the Veggie Roll. All three salads contained a unique blend of fresh flavors and the Hippie Salad might resonate with those who enjoy clean and healthy eating: a combination of quinoa green tea granola, kale, pomegranate and avocado create a burst of raw flavors in your mouth.

Next comes the hot section of the menu, which contains crispy rice and coconut crepes, burger and fried chicken steam buns, fried pork and crab spring roll, smoked beef ends baguette, and of course, their delicious sweet chili pork belly steam buns.

The hot section may seem daunting at first, but here are a few favorites: the pork belly buns are a must have. Their melt in your mouth flavor makes this delicacy special and the soft and fluffy white bun encases a tender and juicy pork belly, with a hint of chili spice.

After chowing down on the pork buns, order the fried pork and crab spring roll. The delicate and flaky roll holds a blend of mushroom, carrot, and fried pork and is served with a Nouc Cham sauce that adds a sweet pop of flavor to the experience.
Lastly, make your way to the noodle dishes, which are served in massive bowls with a decorative wooden “slurping” spoon. The noodle dishes include the smoked rare brisket pho, eye of round pho, poached chicken, spicy tofu, and spicy baby octopus stir fry. All noodle dishes can be accompanied with certain add ons that include, soft or fried egg, raw yolk, pork belly, double meat, mushrooms, bean sprout, tofu, yu choy, and kimchi.

Every noodle dish includes an alluring fusion of spices and flavors in the broth, but some stand outs were the smoked rare brisket pho and the poached chicken. The brisket is tender and falls apart in your mouth. The broth has a nice hint of scallion and garlic and the rice noodles are not overwhelming. This dish works nicely with an added soft egg. The poached chicken, with a heavy lemongrass and peanut flavored broth, really captures the unique tastes of Vietnamese food.

Now if you’re still hungry, make room for the chocolate mint sesame dumplings. The dumpling is formed from beignet batter and when fried, creates a crisp, flaky dough. The mint chocolate center is a rich contrast to the dough and the vanilla jelly is a sweet addition to the dish as a whole.

Chef Reilly, who previously worked at Vespa in Westport, has proved to be successful with his blend of the very distinct flavors of Vietnamese, Asian, and French foods. The atmosphere has a homey and casual feel, thanks to the communal tables which are created from recycled wood, but the food is anything but laid back. With Chef Reilly’s interesting and intricate combination of flavors in all of his dishes, you are sure to be pleased with anything you try.

The Sweet Chili Pork Belly Steam Buns featured in the hot section of the menu.
The Fried Pork and Crab Spring Roll featured in the hot section of the menu.
The Fried Pork and Crab Spring Roll featured in the hot section of the menu.