Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pho SHO!

by Erin

First off, sorry I haven't posted in a while - I have been immersed in exams and I have finally emerged!! Yaay! Okay sorry, back to the FOOD. The meal described here happened the Saturday after Thanksgiving but it was so good I had to post about it, even at this late date.

We were pretty wiped from cooking our Thanksgiving meal, so BCD Mom and Dad and I decided to go out for Pho, the delicious Vietnamese soup, typically made with beef broth, noodles, and various cuts of beef. We tried out a Pho place in Columbia (normally a restaurant wasteland, but this was an exception) called Pho Dat Thanh (actually just down the street from our usual Pho place), and it was a great success!

Pho Dat Thanh has a wide variety of Vietnamese and Chinese food and we were eager to try as much as possible. First we ordered an appetizer that was grilled beef wrapped in a grape leaf, served with a tangy sauce (typical in Vietnamese restaurants). This was a delicious dish - the beef was really tender and flavorful, and the charred grape leaf added a delicious layer of flavor (literally and figuratively).

Next we ordered Salt and Pepper Squid, which was also very good. We weren't expecting it to be deep-fried but we weren't complaining! The squid was tender but still had a bite to it, and there was a good kick of heat in there as well.

Next we ordered a noodle dish with rice noodle, grilled marinated beef, and spring rolls actually IN IT! Oh man, you can't beat a bowl of noodles with spring rolls on top. This was served with veggies and more of the tangy, thin sauce. This was really great - the meat was perfectly cooked and again had a charred flavor, and the spring rolls added a fried crunchiness to the whole dish. So good!

The last thing we got was a crab and asparagus soup, which was the disappointment of the evening. First, we were confused because we thought it would come out with the beef rolls since it was an appetizer, but it was last. More importantly, the flavor was not that great - the crab was kind of fishy (how is this possible?!) and the soup was pretty bland. One interesting thing about the soup was that it had white asparagus in it - nice touch, but not nice enough to outweigh the not-so-great soup.

Dad doles out the soup...too bad!

We didn't have dessert but I got my most favorite thing to get at Vietnamese restaurants: Vietnamese Iced Coffee! OMG you guys, if you have not tried this and you like coffee, you MUST get this. Right now. Go. I'll wait here.

Anyway, Vietnamese Iced Coffee is super-strong coffee, mixed with sweetened condensed milk (!) and served on the rocks. We made it at home once - sooo delicious. Pho Dat Thanh allowed me to get "bubbles" (tapioca balls) in my iced coffee, which were chewy and delicious! Seriously, that stuff is like liquid crack.

Notice the super-wide straw - that's for the bubbles!

You might have noticed that we did not get any traditional pho - there were so many things we wanted to try, we never got around to it! Next time we'll get the real thing and report back. I'm sure it's excellent!

Happy eating, and congrats to my fellow law buddies on finishing! Halfway done law school!


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