Friday, January 29, 2010
I find the extent to which food differs from culture to culture extremely fascinating. No two have the same staple flavors or ingredients in their defining dishes, yet they never fail to provide comfort and warmth. When I have the opportunity to try new foods I always jump at the chance. Not only am I excited to try something new but I also enjoy engaging in cultural experiences.
I've been wanting to try Pho (Vietnamese noodle dish) for a while now. I have seen it featured on various food websites and in magazines(even more so in the winter months) and was curious about the elements that make this dish so prominent. Whenever I have something for the first time, I always make sure it is as close to authentic as I can get, so that I am REALLY immersing myself in the heritage it originated from. After looking through many reviews, and speaking to local residents who are Vietnamese, I found a small family owned restaurant not too far from my apartment.
I dined with two of my closest friends and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a quaint place and the atmosphere was both comfortable and welcoming. To start, we each ordered fresh spring rolls which were comprised of thin strips of pork and shrimp, vermicelli noodles, mint leaves, wrapped in rice paper and served with a side of peanut dipping sauce. For our main course we had "Pho Ga" aka chicken pho. It is the coldest night of the year thus far, and this could not have been a better choice for dinner. It was a gigantic bowl filled with delicate rice noodles, tender pulled chicken and onions in warm broth carefully flavored with chives and cilantro. It was served with a plate of bean sprouts and lime juice to be added at one's preference. I added a mound of bean sprouts, 2 lime wedges and sriracha chili sauce to give it a bit more kick (Hey, it's cold!). The bean sprouts absorbed the broth and still maintained a crunchy texture, and the lime was a perfect accent to the cilantro in the broth. This dish was amplified by the chili sauce. I added it after analyzing all of the flavors and tasting the dish in pure form. Let me tell you, unlike most hot sauces, the sriracha did not mask any flavor, it enhanced it. Each bite was soothing my cold bones.
I will PHO be back,