Tag Archives: Vietnamese

{ Faux Pho }

After my first Pho experience, I became a pho feign. I simply can’t get enough of the stuff–it’s the epitome of comfort food and even better its super healthy for you! Thankfully, I am lucky enough to have an awesome Vietnamese restaurant  (Pho & Beyond) close to my home in Philly so I can get my pho fix there, but finding Vietnamese food in Argentina has been quite a challenge. There is one good place called Green Bamboo, serving up tasty Asian inspired dishes including pho, but it is not authentic and it comes at a rather steep price (almost 90 Arg pesos per bowl….totally not in my budget these days!). As a result, I have decided to experiment with making my own Pho, which I will be the first to admit is really faux pho….the real stuff requires a lot more ingredients and whole lot more cooking time.

This being said, my imitation version still gives the unique flavors of the traditional pho broth and the hearty satisfaction of beef soup. Remember though, this soup is all about the garnishes so don’t skimp on those ingredients!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons star anise seeds (or 1 whole star anise)
  • 1 3″-4″ cinnamon stick
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2-3 cups of mixed mushrooms, chopped (oyster, baby bella, crimini, shitaki)
  • 1 whole scallion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 package of thick rice noodles, cooked out
  • 1 pound of eye round steak, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • Bean sprouts, sliced chilis, fresh basil leaves, sliced scallion, and lime wedges for garnish

{ To Make Pho } Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add the onion (cut side down), crushed garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant–approx. 3-4 minutes.

Add the water, bouillon cubes, star anise, and cinnamon stick, bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Using a small handheld strainer, skim the seeds and cinnamon pieces out of the stock (you can also remove the garlic and ginger if they are not resting at the bottom of the pot).

Add the mushrooms and sliced chiles, and allow to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the scallion and season with kosher salt, according to taste. Remove from heat.

Add the sliced beef to the soup and stir to combine (the beef should cook through almost instantly, if it has been sliced thinly enough).

Divide rice noodles among bowls and ladle broth into each bowl. Garnish the soup with basil, bean sprouts, lime juice, scallion, and sliced chiles. If you like spicy, then add a dash of Sriracha sauce!

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Miss Saigon Bistro **

 

Steamed Rice Noodles (Bun) with Lemongrass Curry Chicken and Spring Rolls over Lettuce, Bean Sprouts, Shaved Carrots, Cilantro, Mint, Chopped Peanuts, and Lime

305.446.8006
148 Giralda Ave
Coral Gables, Fl 33146

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I have been so behaved on this ridiculous diet, but today I cracked. I got the taste of carbs on my tongue on binge day and haven’t been able to get the thought of them out of my head since. I can go without sugar, I can go without dairy, I can even go without sex, but please, for the love of all that is good in this world, don’t take away my carbs!!!

Now, in my own defense, I didn’t succumb to my carb craving easily—it was a slow and steady build up of temptation throughout the day. I went to work and my favorite sandwich (chipotle chicken ciabatta) was on the menu as a lunch special. I had to watch customers order and rave about how delicious the sandwich was while I carried my spinach salad without dressing to back rooms for lunch. Then in my evening class, my teacher decided to treat the entire class to pizza. Not only did I have to watch everyone scarfing down their cheesy hot slices of deliciousness, but I also had to endure the rest of the 3 hour lecture in a room that smelled like a pizza shop (with my belly burning in hunger, might I add!).

I was so tormented by these temptations that I packed up my things and left class early to go get myself a Vietnamese Bun. No one wanted to join me, but not even the awkwardness of eating alone came between me and my noodle dish. I drove over to Miss Saigon Bistro near Miracle Mile in Coral Gables and got a table for one.

I ordered the Bun (steamed rice noodles) with Lemongrass Curry Chicken and Spring Rolls, which also contains Bean Sprouts, Cilantro, Mint, Shaved Carrots, Green Onions, Shredded Lettuce, Roasted Peanuts, and Lime. The average portion of this dish is enormous (and it was here too, as you can see in the photo), so I figured I would eat half the dish and take the other half to go, but I didn’t put my chopsticks down till every noodle was in my belly—a screw you to my carb-free diet.

As for the quality of the food, it wasn’t very good. The meat was nicely flavored (make sure that you ask for all white meat if you get chicken), but the dish itself lacked flavor. The noodles weren’t the vermicelli noodles that I have grow accustomed to eating at Vietnamese restaurants at home, and the dish overall was disappointing (even though it satisfied my carb craving). I think I was most upset though when the check came because the Bun for one came to $17, which is ludicrous. I am used to getting the same size portion but better quality for just $7 at home. In conclusion, I left feeling guilty for having cheated on my diet, and mad for having paid $17 for that guilt.

I wouldn’t recommend Miss Saigon Bistro, but since it is one of the few Vietnamese places in Miami, it will probably stay in business by default for a many years to come. If anyone can suggest an alternative Vietnamese restaurant in Miami, please leave it in a comment response, because I crave Pho like a sick kid craves chicken noodle soup.

**In regards to the diet, I did feel significantly more energetic after consuming the carbs and was able to have a powerhouse workout later that evening, which I wasn’t capable of when eating strictly protein. I also was in a much happier mood and felt entirely less lethargic.

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Phở & Beyond ****

Phở Chin - Vietnamese Soup with Rice Vermicelli, Brisket, Cilantro, Basil, Lime, Jalapeno, Bean Sprouts, Onions, and Scallions

215.659.3464
47 Easton Road
Willow Grove, 19090

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It’s freezing here in Philly. So cold, that it was actually too cold to snow the other day—something I didn’t even know was possible! Of course, being accustomed to the heat of Miami, I am desperately looking for ways to warm up. I’ve taken up residence in front of my fireplace at home, wearing obnoxious down-feather slippers, and layering on North Face’s, but I think the best way to get warm is from the inside. And that means eating soup….lots of it!!

Since neither my mom or I felt like shedding enough layers to cook a pot of homemade soup ourselves, we decided to go out for some Vietnamese Phở at Phở & Beyond in Willow Grove. If you aren’t familiar with Vietnamese food, you might be wondering just exactly what Phở is. Here’s a little food for thought:

Phở is a beef noodle soup that is considered the “National dish of Vietnam.” The rich and aromatic Phở broth is prepared by boiling beef and chicken broth for twelve-hours along with spices and herbs such as ginger cloves, star anise, cinnamon, lemon grass, and cilantro, which creates a distinctly unique flavor. The delicate broth is then traditionally served with rice noodles and either sliced brisket or eye round steak. Most places also provide an accompanying dish of bean sprouts, lime, basil, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers to be added to the soup by the customer, according to desired taste.

As you may have guessed by the name, Phở & Beyond is particularly well known for their Phở, which is truly incredible!! When you walk into this restaurant and look around, almost every single person (90% of which are Vietnamese) has an oversized, steaming plastic bowl of this soup in front of them. And there are no doubts as to the authenticity of this place, because Vietnamese chatter is the soundtrack to your meal. If it’s good enough for natives, then it’s got to be the real deal!

I order my Phở with well-done brisket, lending it the specific name Ph Chin as opposed to Phở Tắi, which is with rare eye round.

The brisket is sliced super thin and it compliments the flavor of the delicate broth just beautifully. One of the only problems Phở presents for American diners is the actual eating process—aka getting the contents of the bowl into one’s mouth. The soup is served with two utensils; chopsticks and a porcelain soup spoon. This means that you need to coordinate eating the noodles with chopsticks in one hand and spooning the broth to your mouth with the other. It is a process that takes some getting used to and you can expect to feel entirely frustrated as the Vietnamese natives around you effortlessly devour their soup in a timely fashion. I am the fastest eater out of anyone I know, but the required eye-hand coordination of this feeding process brings me to a grinding halt and forces me to eat slowly.

Being a spice lover, I enjoy my Phở with jalapenos, which adds an unexpected heat to the delicate broth of the dish. I also like adding the fresh bean sprouts, which nicely contrast the soft rice noodles in their crispness. Oh, and the lime juice is a must because it adds the perfect amount of acidity to the soup, without a noticeably strong lime flavor. Also, my adopted Korean sister showed me that the best way to eat the meat of the soup is to pick it up with your chopsticks and swirl it in some hoisin sauce and/or Sriracha (Asain hot sauce) on a separate plate. I love condiments and dipping sauces, so I chose to eat mine this way and loved it.

Also good at Phở & Beyond are the Búns, which are rice vermicelli noodle dishes, occasionally served in lemon grass broth like soup. My dad ordered the Bún Đạc Biet, which is a house specialty containing grilled pork, grilled chicken, petit egg rolls, grilled shrimp, rice vermicelli, shredded lettuce, cucumbers, pickled carrots, and mint. All of this is then topped with crushed roasted peanuts and served with homemade fish sauce. It sounds like everything but the kitchen sink, and it kind of is, but some how all of the meats, flavors, and textures work together in an incredibly delicious way. I enjoyed bites of my dad’s dish just as much as I enjoyed my own soup. This dish is also a little bit easier to eat, especially if you ask for a fork!

Bún Đạc Biet – Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli with Pork, Chicken, Shrimp, Egg Rolls, Bean Sprouts, Cucumbers, Pickled Carrots, and Shredded Lettuce

My mom decided to have a light lunch and ordered the gỏi cuốn, which are garden spring rolls containing shrimp, pork, vermicelli noodles, cilantro, cucumbers, mint, and lettuce wrapped in rice paper and served with homemade hoisin-peanut sauce. The portion was really large for an appetizer, especially at a price point of just $4.50!! I would definitely order these again.

All of the portions are enormous (left-overs for sure) and the prices are really cheap. My Phở was only $7.50 and my dad’s fully loaded Bún was only $9.95. These are recession prices people, so go eat here to warm up for cheap this winter!

Condiments for Pho – Lime Wedge, Jalapeno, Bean Sprouts, Cilantro, and Basil

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