Was in Vietnam last year for our honeymoon and we stopped on our trip down the coast at Hoi An. It’s a small seaside fishing village with lots of amazing shops, restaurants and street food. If you like Vietnamese food, you can’t go wrong here. Pretty much everything, everywhere we ate including was amazing. I particularly like the street food vendors where you can get pho, banh mi just out of a cart. I discovered a new favorite, Cao Lao which is a regional dish found in Hoi An.
Basically it’s made with noodles, pork, and greens with a rich broth. Need to find some here in Beijing, but it’s pretty difficult so far. Anyone have any suggestions?
We took at trip out to Vietnam last week and enjoyed the most amazing fresh food. Pho, summer rolls, banh mi, etc. Here’s a roadside cart that I found near our hotel in Hoi An Vietnam. The banh bread rolls are kept warm and crispy over a charcoal burning stove. The don’t use mayo here but a combination of fish sauce, oils, and spreads. Meats are a little different from the usual bbq pork that I’m used to. Pickled carrots and daikon are fresh, also sawtooth corriander is a popular addition to food in this region. Really brings out a new texture and taste.
Boi Noodles Vietnamese Pho
240 W 40th St (bet 7 and 8th ave)
Port Authority NY
I work in the garment district and there’s a pretty good selection of ethnic food including Indian, Chinese, Korean, Halal, Spanish, Kosher, Italian, and Japanese. Just recently I discovered a Vietnamese noodle place right across the street from Port Authority. Ok not the greatest, most elegant location but when you’re next store to Dunkin Donuts and Popeye’s, Boi Noodles looks like a pretty good choice before hopping on the next Greyhound.
I ordered the #4 Pho Saigon with thinly sliced beef ($7.35) which I know is pretty expensive for pho (I’ll get back to this in a min). That day, I kind of discovered that Boi Noodles hasn’t been open too long – the staff wasn’t sure who was to collect the money and who would put in the order and which receipt I should get. Then, when the cook prepared the Pho, he actually put the thin sliced beef in a basket and briefly cooked it in a vat of hot water before placing it in the bowl which is not what I’d expect from a Vietnamese restaurant (usually the thin slices of beef are served raw and are slowly cooked in the hot broth). Anyways, I took my bowl and went upstairs and sat down at one of the several large wooden picnic tables (weird) and checked out the pho. It was actually pretty good and the broth, which usually defines good pho, has great flavor. My only complaint is that for the $8, you don’t get a whole lot. I know that it’s midtown but if it was priced at $6 or $6.50 I’d probably come back here a lot more. I mean it’s a bowl of broth with noodles and a few slices of beef after all. Then again, if you find yourself at Port Authority in the middle of winter, this bowl of pho will be your best friend guaranteed.
Boi also serves Banh Mi sandwiches for $6.89, some noodle dishes, and all kinds of lemongrass drink refreshments. Will need to check those out soon.]]>
2841 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90026
Over Thanksgiving weekend, we drove up to visit some of Gisa’s friends in the Silver Lake area of LA. While we were out in China, her friends spent a few days at our apt in Brooklyn and talked about some of the places they liked in Williamsburg such as the funky Bagel Store (they loved the French Toast bagels). We proceeded to swap stories about good places to eat in LA and Brooklyn and eventually ended up at Pho Cafe.
I guess being in Silver Lake, I was a little excited to see West Coast hipsters and was happy with the vantage point I got that night at the innermost table of the restaurant. There, you can pretty much get a lengthwise view down the long corridor of tables under the repeating designer lamps of the entire restaurant. But as expected it’s the same shit, different place.
The food however was definitely special. I ordered the #16 Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong (vermicelli rice noodles with egg rolls, charbroiled lemongrass steak, peanuts and fresh herbs). It was similar to Tu Lan’s #17 in San Francisco but I kind of like Tu Lan’s rolls better. Even more remarkable however was a dish straight out of the appetizer section – #6 (Ban H Xeo Chay – Vietnamese crepe with tofu, mushrooms, bean sprouts, mung beans, served with fresh herbs and rice paper wrap).
You basically roll your own using the rice paper wraps and the stuffing which includes the amazing crispy deep fried crepe. Note: it’s a little tricky with the rice paper, so be sure to start rolling the wraps the second the server puts the dish on the table since the rice paper wraps tend to dry and stick to each other quite quickly. Here’s to the West Side! Sorry, no time to check out so many good places in LA – definitely need to spend more than a few days next time!]]>
172 Bedford at N7th
Over the summer I wrote about the new Ban Mi 172 sandwich counter. It’s still the rage in Williamsburg but the restaurant next store is also quite popular as well. I went there a few weeks ago and enjoyed a bowl of pho which is just the right thing for chilly weather. Besides pho, An Nhau has a full selection of Vietnamese dishes (rice, noodles, salads, etc). I got the pho classic which has slices of beef in a rich beef broth. The owner says they use about 80 lbs of meat and 12 hours of slow heat to make the broth and you can definitely taste the difference! Definitely order a bowl if you go.
While I was impressed by the pho, I was also equally impressed by the super high level of service. It’s something you might expect at a nice hotel, but not a Vietnamese restaurant let alone at ground zero of hipsters in Williamsburg!
An Nhau also has a nice garden backyard with cabanas and heat lamps to extend your dining pleasure throughout the year. I’m sure this will especially be a huge hit in the spring time!]]>
Personally I believe that the secret to the best Pho lies in the broth. Without a strong meaty stock, the whole dish fails. It doesn’t matter what grade beef you add, the amount of sriracha sauce you add, lime juice etc. So once you have the broth, you basically need about 5 more ingredients to make phenomenal pho.
Vietnamese Pho Recipe
Beef, pork, chicken bones (or combination thereof). A few weeks ago, I made my own oven roast pork and saved the pork shoulder bones. You can also ask your local butcher for any scraps which they’ll gladly give you for free.
1 large carrot, cut into pieces
1 large onion, unpeeled and halved
1 celery rib, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
12 to 15 peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce (optional)
2-3 teaspoons of Sea Salt
If you purchased the bones and they are uncooked, place the bones and 1/2 of the vegetables into a roasting pan and broil at 450 F for 20-30 mins till brown. If you’re using saved bones, just skip to step 2.
Pour about 2 cups water into a large pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add all or remaining vegetables, salt, and enough cold water to cover the bones. Bring to a simmer, occasionally skimming off any foam. Simmer, loosely covered, for 3 to 4 hours, adding more boiling water if liquid evaporates below surface of ingredients.
Strain through a colander and allow to cool for several minutes. At this point you can use the broth immediately or if you’re concerned about the fat content, you can place the broth in the fridge for a few hours and scrap the top fat layer off.
Pho Me Long Time – Assembling the Pho
A few cups of the awesome broth
Pho noodles (you can buy these from any local Asian supermarket)
Super thin slices of beef, beef balls, etc
Leaves off of several fresh stalks of Italian basil
Handful of bean sprouts
Slice of lime
Pour the broth into the bowl, then the noodles, then the meat. Top with the basil, bean sprouts and a squeeze of lime. Add sriracha sauce to your liking. What the pho! It’s easy, no? Enjoy!]]>
160 Havemeyer St,
Brooklyn, NY 11211
I made a joke a few months ago that Vietnamese is the new Thai of Williamsburg. I think it’s kind of becoming more of a reality now with Silent on Berry, Bep and Banh Mi 172 on Bedford, and Nha Toi on Havemeyer. At the moment, only Bep offers Pho, but these days the craze is really all about Banh Mi no? (Banh Mi 172’s larger restaurant next door slated to open in a month will feature pho).
I’m still a little torn between Nha Toi and Banh Mi 172’s Banh Mi. The sandwiches are larger at Nha Toi with more meat and pickled vegetables, but the liver pate, mayo and other sauces they use at Banh Mi 172 do make their sandwiches quite interesting too. Nha Toi has indoor (funky) seating vs the sandwich stand at Bahn Mi 172. Nha Toi features 15 different types of banh mi include a pho banh mi with meat cooked in pho meat broth (what happened to the pho?). Check it out!]]>
172 Bedford Ave (Bet N7th and N8th)
Williamsburg Brooklyn NY
718 384 0028
Open 7 days
10-11pm Sun – Thurs
10 – 1AM Fri – Sat
If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve probably noticed my recent obsession with banh mi sandwiches. Luck would have it that a small banh mi sandwich shop opened up a few weeks ago in Williamsburg. Actually it’s just phase one of the owners’ plans as they are preparing to launch their restaurant in a few months (located adjacent to the sandwich counter) that will be serving a full Vietnamese menu. You know that means bowls of fresh pho! In the meantime, the banh mi sandwiches are flying off the counter at this latest food enterprise in Williamsburg. LOL, is Vietnamese the new Thai of Williamsburg?
Priced at just $5 each, Banh Mi 172’s 7 varieties of banh mi include xiu mai (Vietnamese Meatball), banh mi ga nuong sa (grilled lemongrass chicken), banh mi thit khia (bbq pork), banh mi cha ca (fish cake sandwich) and a vegetarian option (of course). I’ve tried the #1 special combination (all of the above excluding the lemongrass chicken) as well as the classic #2 (thinly sliced pork). I really liked the special combination since it was a bit different especially with the fish cake slices. The #2 Classic is spot on and will defintiely do the job. The next time I’m definitely going to try the BBQ Pork sandwich. I found out one of the owners is Chinese and I’m hoping they’ll use Chinese Cha Xiu BBQ Pork like they do it out in the Vietnamese restaurants in California. Check it out!
P.S. Banh Mi 172 is open till 1AM on Fri and Sat so you now have an alternative option to the greasy pizza across the street!]]>
Hey I did it – I made my own Banh Mi! Well, sort of. It’s good but I have a feeling it could still be better. The more I research Banh Mi, the more I’m discovering that the varieties and possibilities are endless. According to Wikipedia, the Banh Mi sandwich is made up of thinly sliced pickled carrots and daikon, onions, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeño peppers and meat. But that is just the start. Think about the basic hamburger and how many varieties and crazy toppings you can stuff in. That being said, here’s my recipe that I’ve put together but by no means is it THE way to make a banh mi and I have to honestly say I’m ashamed to compare mine to the one down the street here in Brooklyn. Oh well, I’ll keep revising and trying.
(my humble) Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Recipe
Sliced Pickled carrots and daikon
One Vietnamese Banh Mi bread roll
Liver Pate (optional)
Chinese BBQ Pork sliced thinly
Seasoned Banh Mi Pork Meat:
1lb thinly sliced pork (from pork chops or pork loin)
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 cloves of garlic (use a garlic press or finely sliced)
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/2 onion sliced thinly
Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons of Olive oil.
Mix the garlic, fish sauce, sugar, sesame oil, olive oil, onion, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Slice the meat and let marinate in the sauce for about 1 hour at room temperature. Fry on high heat till golden brown.
Assembly your Banh Mi Sandwich!
Slice the bread roll lengthwise and lather on the mayo and liver pate. Then add the sliced pickled carrots and daikon, followed by the slices of jalapeño peppers, cilantro and cucumbers. Finally add the pork meat and bbq pork on top. Lastly season with spicy Sriracha sauce to taste. Toast and serve! Enjoy!
p.s. The autosave feature in the new WordPress 2.8 is FUCKING annoying. It keeps pushing the focus back to the top of the page. You know what that means right? Another ensuing wordpress upgrade. At least I don’t use itunes anymore. HAHA]]>
A few weekends ago I got inspired to make my own Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich which led me to making my own pickled carrots and daikon. The next step was to make my own bread. It’s probably the most complex component to this sandwich. You can’t just use a regular hero roll from the corner deli (as I found out). A French baguette is probably the closest you’ll get to the crunchy flaky skin of a proper Banh Mi Vietnamese bread baguette. I did a few searches on the internet and fooled around with a few recipes and this is what I came up with. I know a little bit about bread making but I am by no means a baker so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. The use of a bit of rice flour apparently lends to a harder outer crust on the bread, and at the same time gives a chewy interior – exactly what you’d expect from a real Vietnamese Banh Mi bread roll.
Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Bread Recipe
4 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
1 cup of rice flour (make sure it’s not glutinous rice flour)
2 cups of cool water (room temp)
One packet of Yeast
2.5 teaspoons of salt
Pinch of sugar
Add sugar to water and stir in yeast. Allow to activate for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt and pour onto a clean surface and create a mound and make it into a volcano. Pour a bit of the yeast water, then slowly draw the flour into the water. Repeat till water is fully mixed with the flour. Now grease hands with a bit of olive oil and then knead for about 5 minutes to thoroughly mix the flour and water. Let rest for 15 minutes (autolyse).
Roll the dough into a tight ball. Cover with a towel and let rest for 1.5 to 2 hours, maybe 3 hours until it doubles in volume. It all depends on the room temp.
Shape the Banh Mi Bread Rolls
Slice dough into 4 pieces. To shape, flatten dough into a rectangle shape, then fold 2/3 over and fold bottom 1/3 back on top. Form a tight seam by pinching along the length of the roll. Fold over the ends and also pinch a smooth seam. Carefully pinch along the length of the roll to make the skin tighter. Finally cup your hands and gently roll the baguette to make a smooth surface. If you have a baking stone, place baking stone in oven and gently lay rolls on a floured wooden surface or paddle. If you don’t have a baking stone, place your bread rolls on a floured baking sheet.
Cover with a lightly floured towel and allow to rest till dough doubles in volume. (2-3 hours, maybe 4)
Baking The Bread
Place a shallow pan on the very bottom of your oven. Fill up a container with 2 cups of cool water. Heat oven to 425F.
1) Pour the water into the pan and close the oven door to trap the steam.
2) Quickly slash the tops of the rolls lengthwise (not too deep).
3) Open and place the baking sheet with the bread into the oven and quickly close the door (or slide bread directly onto your baking stone).
Bake for 20 to 25 mins or until the internal temp is 200F. Allow to cool for 20 mins before enjoying. For long term storage, allow to cool a few hours ,then seal in a ziplock bag and freeze.
Once you’ve made the banh mi bread, now make the banh mi sandwich!]]>