Here, Eat This: A Beginner's Guide to Vietnamese Cuisine

Categories: Here, Eat This

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Photo by Michael Shum
Com tam at Thuan Kieu Com Tam.
Cơm thịt nướng / chargrilled pork and rice
Pronounced: gum tit noon

Com dia refers to a rice plate, while anything after "com" on a menu refers to the type of meat and other toppings that come with the rice. Again, thit nuong is common. But other favorites include ga nuong and bo nuong (chargrilled chicken and beef, respectively) as well as the fancier ga ro ti: a tiny, roasted Cornish game hen. All rice plates also come with nuoc cham to perk up the rice and a bowl of broth laced with garlic and/or scallions to sip between bites of the sticky rice and cleanse the throat.

Bò lúc lắc / grilled beef with garlic, onion and bell peppers
Pronounced: buh luke lock

Think of bo luc lac as Vietnamese fajitas. Here in Houston, the marinated beef with grilled peppers and onions is even served on a sizzling comal. Also called "shaking beef," bo luc lac -- typically cuts of beef filet or tenderloin -- has an instantly recognizable flavor profile of garlic and jalapeños. Served on a bed of lettuce, it's a nearly perfect Paleo meal if you're into that thing.

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Photo by Michael Shum
Banh bot chien.
Bánh bột chiên / rice flour cake omelet
Pronounced: bahn bot chen

Often served as a morning snack or appetizer, ban bot chien is essentially a small omelet containing rectangles of tender rice flour cake, topped with scallions and garlic. As simple as that sounds, presentation can vary widely from restaurant to restaurant and may include turnips and onions among other ingredients. Top it with nuoc mam for an addictive sweet-and-savory treat.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Banh mi bo kho at Cafe TH.
Bánh mì bò kho / beef stew with carrots
Pronounced: bahn mee buh koh

If someone brought you a bowl of banh mi bo kho and you didn't know its origins, you may have a hard time guessing it's Vietnamese. This hearty winter stew of beef, carrots and onions in a black pepper-spiced broth could be equally at home on a French or American table, save for the hints of lemongrass and fish sauce in the background. It's served with a crusty hunk of French baguette (the banh mi part) for sopping up the broth when you've finished all the meat and veg.



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12 comments
geof
geof

Why must you go the Americanized places??  The bottom doesn't get much lower.

sarsi82
sarsi82

Banh bot chien is normally served with a soy sauce mixture. I've never seen or heard of it served with nuoc mam.

Adrienne Byard
Adrienne Byard

I'll never forget the first time I had Chè ba màu. Such an exhilarating and palate-changing experience.

Wuwu
Wuwu

If I could be so bold to rewrite your story it would go like this;


1.  Go to Cafe TH

2.  Ask Minh to show you the ends and outs of Viet food

3.  Enjoy!

Wuwu
Wuwu

If I could be so bold to rewrite your story it would go like this;


1.  Go to Cafe TH

2.  Ask Minh to show you the ends and outs of Viet food

3.  Enjoy!

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

My local place offers a side order of pig blood.  Not sure, do you eat it or pour it over someone's head?

fmontes
fmontes

Shredded chicken and fried egg on my Bánh mì please!

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

@geof where did you see one name of a restaurant? How about reading the entire article next time before commenting, that way you don't look like a troll.....on the bottom

klepto
klepto

@Wuwu Why must it always be about Minh and Cafe TH? He's a nice guy who does decent Vietnamese, but he's not the be-all, end-all of the cuisine. There are plenty of friendly places that will serve you food at least as good, and be happy to explain it.

Bitspitter
Bitspitter

@Bruce_Are It will almost certainly come as a congealed cube or two, so it's not actually 'pourable.' I've had it a few times, but I'm not a big fan.

Wuwu
Wuwu

@klepto @Wuwu please do explain we are all awaiting....more importantly when it comes to Viet I would be happy to hear your options....

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