Posted on: 26 April 2017Share
In a small unassuming strip mall location, you may see a sign that looks like a question more than a business name. It will have the word "Pho" followed by a question mark and either a name or a number. Intrigued? Vietnamese restaurants serve much more than just noodle soup.
Pho: Pho is still the star of Vietnamese cuisine. It can be served with many types of meat, but the most popular version is Pho Bo, which is noodle soup with beef tendons.
The magic of Pho is in its spices and broth. Pho enthusiasts will travel to another state just to eat a bowl of Pho with just the right mix of spices.
Even the names of Vietnamese restaurants are indicative of the numbers of spices used in the broth. For example, if a restaurant is named "Pho 75", then the broth is purported to contain 75 different spices.
Pho is served with a large plate of Thai Basil leaves, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges, and hot Vietnamese chili peppers. The leaves and sprouts are first mixed into the soup, followed by lime juice squeezed from the wedges. Chilis are added according to tolerance ( Vietnamese chilis are very hot).
Although vegetable Pho is often available, the broth is often made with chicken or beef stock, so vegetarians should ask if a veggie stock is available.
Bang Xeo ( Vietnamese pancake): This is not a Western style pancake, but more like an omelet with small pieces of pork and shrimp folded over a mound of mung bean sprouts.
Bang Xeo is served with large lettuce leaves and Thai Basil, along with various dipping sauces. It is eaten by wrapping a portion of the pancake, along with Thani Basil, into the large lettuce leaves and dipping the wrap into your choice of sauces.
If you see a red chili ring in the sauce bowl, it is very hot, so use caution if you can't take the heat.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls: Unlike egg rolls, which are wrapped in wheat based rolls and fried golden brown, spring rolls use thin rice paper, which is much lighter and more delicate.
They are used filled with cold rice noodles, shredded lettuce, pickled carrots, and shrimp, although the shrimp can be left out for vegetarians. (Look for the word "Chay" on the menu for Vegetarian offerings).
Dessert: Che Ba Mau is a popular dessert item. This consists of a layer of mung beans followed by strands of colorful tapioca, sweetened by coconut milk and served with crushed ice. A perfect desert to cool the fire of Vietnamese chilis.
You can also linger over a cup of strong but naturally sweet Vietnamese coffee. It can be served black or with cream (Cafe Sua), according to your preference.
You never know what you could discover when trying a new restaurant. To learn more about local restaurants and their menus, contact restaurants like Melting Pot Pizza.