Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vietnamese Cuisine - oxymoron?

Had my first taste of Vietnamese cuisine last week while in Las Vegas, Nevada.  That might be a tip-off right there.  Like any "national" food that gets popular, how true to authentic can you expect, especially in the land of fake-believe, Las Vegas? 
Work was over for the day, and we found ourselves at the Zine Noodles Dim Sum restaurant in the Palazzo.  My two dinner companions have traveled to China, Japan, Vietnam and other points in the Far East many times.  They had eaten at the Zine Noodles restaurant before, and thought it would be a good starting point for me.  At their recommendation, I ordered the Satay Filet Mignon Spicy Noodle Soup.
After I ordered my soup/dinner, my dinner mates both chuckled and said it would not be like any soup I'd find in Vietnam.  At that comment, I became a little worried.  The reason it wouldn't be "authentic", they said, is because the Vietnamese rarely serve beef in their foods.  I would be more likely to find monkey, dog or some other type of Vietnamese roadkill in my meal, if this had been truly authentic.  I thanked my lucky stars for the Las Vegas strip and all it has become.

The soup was very rich in flavor, starting with a spicy curry base.  Slivers of chive, green onion and red pepper floated happily about the surface with some peanuts.  The filet mignon was sliced thin.  Hiding under the broth and the meat was a substantial portion of long, soft Asian noodles.  As I ate the soup with the obligatory Asian spoon, I became all too aware why you'll often see people cradling their bowl as they bring their face closer and closer to eat.  That's the only way to effectively eat this delightful soup without ending up wearing it.

I'll try Vietnamese chow again, especially when I want something light.  There's nothing else like it.

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