Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bún 101: Vietnamese Vermicelli at Saigon Bistro

Like many of us do over time, I have branched out from the usual meat and three rut and boy am I glad I have.  Fried chicken, okra and cornbread are fine but as a change of pace I have become especially fond of Asian cuisine. Meals at India Palace, and Green Papaya have taught me there is some mighty fine food out East (and I am not talking about East Montgomery a/k/a West Shorter). Based upon the recommendation of No Grits No Glory, I tried Sushi Cafe and agree that it is a great new place in Z-Red which also serves Asian cuisine.

So, when the Younger and Tiny Dancer suggested we try some Vietnamese food at Saigon Deli I bit. Literally.

As it turns out, the family which ran Saigon Deli moved their act to the former Lone Star Steakhouse next to the Fatback Outback Steakhouse this past October. They have renamed it Saigon Bistro. The Vietnamese restaurant, owned by David Mai, is now located at 1060 East Blvd. It is a little of a pain to get to (you have to turn into Sam's and then turn right into the parking lot behind the restaurant) but worth the inconvenience.

I obviously know very little about Vietnamese cuisine and will not pretend to lecture you here. A frequent patron recommend the Chicken or Beef Curry Vermicelli Bowl which caused me to do a double-take and ask: "Vermicelli? That doesn't sound very Vietnamese?"

"Well, Vietnam was once a French Colony, so they have a French influence," I was told. And, for a second it made sense. But then it hit me, vermicelli is an Italian pasta. It isn't French at all. Is it?

Well, actually it is. The thin noodles are really "long ass rice" used in many Asian dishes and are called Bún in Vietnamese. Vermicelli is just the Italian word for thin noodles. Confused? Just order it. With beef instead of chicken it costs just $6.50 and I bet you that you cannot eat the entire meal. The bowl it comes in is the size of a popcorn bowl. Add some peppers and bean sprouts and you will have more than you can handle especially if you have some fresh spring rolls filled with two shrimp apiece.

Tiny Dancer got some tofu vegetarian dish she liked a lot. The Younger ordered what I did and loaded it down with some of the pepper sauces on the table. When we finished he was breathing fire but very happy with the meal.

Service was fast and friendly with a lot of "Thank you sirs." The inside of the former steakhouse is open and can accommodate a lot of patrons.

I recommend you go try Saigon Bistro and have some Bún! You will find it on the menu page for Vermicelli. Go figure.

 Saigon Bistro on Urbanspoon

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