Now I’m a big fan of Vietnamese food (and Taiwanese food, Indian food, Thai food etc etc). As my cousin is also a big fan, while we were visiting the area he had plenty of suggestions on where to visit for some yummy every day Vietnamese food. Ana’s stomach rumbles ‘Hmmmmmmmmmmm’.
I’m just going to show you an orgy of the variety of things we tried during the time we were in Orange County.
Banh Xeo (fried savoury pancake with pork and prawns) – you can’t see the prawns in the pic, buy you can probably see how lovely and crisp the pancake is. It’s tinge is yellow, and that is due to the turmeric they add to the pancake mixture. Traditionally served with slices of cooked pork, prawns, bean sprouts and onions, it’s a great refreshing dish for lunch. Normally you eat it wrapped in lettuce leaves, however I tend to over dunk my pancakes in dipping sauce, so I just throw a bit of pancake and greens into a separate bowl and douse it in dipping sauce. Delicious!
Che Ba Mau (three coloured dessert) – one of favourites, this is a convenient dessert served in a cup. Normally served with a combination of red beans, yellow beans, tapioca pearls and other little jellies, it’s topped with a healthy serve of coconut milk and shaved ice. Mmmmmmmm… I normally like to mix it up a bit so the coconut milk spreads the love on the beans 🙂
Nam Nuong (grilled pork) rice paper rolls – my cousin took me to THE place to have nam nuong. We got some take away and took it home to devour in our pajamas. Freshly rolled with a variety of greens, a surprise of fried spring roll skin, and a generous piece of grilled pork meat – I can easily eat 4 of these babies. Well, just.
Creme Caramel – now the Vietnamese have perfected this to my palate. I love a good creme caramel, however I often find it too sweet when I buy it. This creme caramel is a little less sweet, and the caramel itself is more runny and bitter. Yummo!
Pho (beef noodle soup) – where would I be if I didn’t try this dish?? One of the most famous dishes of Vietnam (not to mention one of my favourites) – we went to this danky little restaurant that apparently serves the best pho in California. While waiting in line I received a couple of compliments on my cool accent (seriously, I’ve never heard the Australian accent referred to as cool – but thanks anyway!). The pho itself was quite nice – but I’ve had better. The noodles were fresh and chewy, the meat and meat balls delicious as I remember. However the soup stock was too sweet for my liking. Perhaps this is what Californians prefer…
Banh Cuon (rice flour rolls) – Now it’s hard to find this fresh in Brisbane. I’ve eaten pre made ones in lunch boxes but nothing compares to eating them fresh in a restaurant. The rolls where chewy and had the perfect consistency (Mr Ana kept saying ‘yum’). Especially with pepper beef… And the dipping sauce came in a jug. I was happy.
Pate Chaux (puff pastry with pork mince) – another adaptation from the French colonisation days. This is one of my favourites and I make these at home. These pate chaux became my staple brunch while in LA and went perfectly with a Vietnamese iced coffee (another firm favourite). We became regulars at one particular bakery.
Snack table gone mad – now, I like to go to the Vietnamese grocer every now and then. I’m always bound to find a great little packed lunch for $3.50 (cheap!), or some nice sweets to snack on when I get home. So we went to this bakery to buy something for breakfast, and I was confronted with this massive snack table of sweets of every kind. My mother would have gone nuts if she were there. I only tried a few things though, I was very restrained!
Lets just say I never really felt hungry in LA. Brought back a few souvenirs to Australia – a few extra kilograms in my stomach!!!