Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saigon snack

If you screw up scheduled meal times, it can be difficult to fix them. Having breakfast/brunch at 12pm forces lunch to about 4pm - and then a midnight dinner? It's good to have snacking options out and about, although this requires enormous amounts of restraint. To choose menu items to share as a snack - not a meal.

Che drink from Miss Saigon, Forest Road, Hurstville
So pho was not really an option when we descended upon Miss Saigon at about 4pm, although the three or four tables around were all having soupy noodles. I know I was missing out, but with dinner just a few hours away, it had to be discipline all the way. Starting off with the green tinged che drink, with red beans and green jelly strips among other ingredients under sweetened milk and shaved ice. I imagine this in itself could be a meal.

Lettuce leaves and herbs plus nuoc cham
One thing I love about Vietnamese food has to be the abundance of fresh and raw food involved, especially the ever-present lettuce leaves and Asian mint. They're generally used to wrap things, I think, almost everything in my experience, dunked into the also omnipresent nuoc cham dipping sauce. I'm not sure which of our ordered dishes, if not both, this was meant for, but it made it with both.

Banh xeo
Both dumplings and pancakes are two food items I struggle to resist. The Vietnamese savoury pancake version is banh xeo, here bright yellow and thin with a crunchy looking outer. I imagine I'd be able to scoff piles of these empty, like a savoury crepe of sorts. Perhaps there's a French influence.

Banh xeo innards - pork mince, prawn, bean sprouts
Inside the pancake reveals a pile of bean sprouts, a couple of poached prawns and a helping of dry-cooked pork mince, all nestled into the inner, ungrilled side of the pancake. The fillings are not stuck into the batter as such, but rather blanketed by the pancake, and very simply seasoned. I think the rack of condiments by the side of each table are meant to help that cause, as too the basket of wrapping and dipping sides.

Salt and pepper calamari
Other people just can't help themselves to salt and pepper squid. It's like something stronger than magnetic attraction and I've learnt not to try forcing them apart. This plate looked promising with its pale batter (clean oil!) and generously-sized pieces, but was let down somewhat by the lack of flavour - neither salt nor pepper seemed present.

And then the forced stop while we're still not quite full. It's kind of a new experience, stopping way before explosion point and still a little wanting. It's a little enlightening in a few ways, and probably lightening too - seems a little restraint goes a long way.

Miss Saigon on Urbanspoon


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

I love banh xeo. Such a great dish, especially in summer. I'm not one to say no to salt and pepper calamari either. Resistance is futile!

Tina said...

Hi Helen - It's very light, isn't it? Although I like banh khot even more :)


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