When you think of New Orleans or Louisiana, Cajun/Creole cooking comes to mind as well the yearly debauchery known as Mardi Gras. If you haven’t been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it is basically Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and the 4th of July all rolled into one for horny men. For just 50 cents, you can buy some ugly ass beads and get some girl to show you her goodies. Way cheaper than a strip club. What’s even creepier is that it is more truth than joke. There are guys trolling around the streets with armfuls of beads and cameras at the ready.
But I digress. One of the few things that don’t come to mind when you visit the city is Vietnamese Pho. But there is a pho place that is rumored to have Emeril Lagasse making several trips and ordering more than one serving of the stuff. His favorite is apparently the Pho Ga, or chicken pho.
Even thought the clear broth looks fairly plain, it was very flavorful. The addition of cilantro gave an entirely new dimension to the dish, compared to with the standard basil leaves. Thick slices of chicken breast contributed to the heartiness of the soup. A bit more filling than you would get from thinly sliced beef. Noodles were nice and fluid and not clumped together like some pho places.
And some things just weren’t meant to be…like the Soup Rau Chay…which is the vegetarian pho. This is one of those things that exist to provide vegetarians an option, but broth made from vegetables, just isn’t quite pho.
They also serve banh mi sandwiches here, which you would expect. They are pretty decent, and then when you consider the price, they are really good. But to go with the NOLA theme, they are referred to as Vietnamese Po’ Boys. Usually made with fresh French rolls, and various meats such as ham, pork, chicken or pate, they are a bit lighter than your traditional sandwich. Meat is used sparingly which allows the pickled vegetables, cilantro, and hot pepper to dictate the majority of the flavors. The one in the photo is the Banh Mi Thit Nuong with chargrilled pork slices.
And no visit to a Vietnamese would be complete without ordering a Cafe Sua Nong which is espresso with sweetened condensed milk. What makes this delicious is that there is almost as much condensed milk as there is espresso. It is recommended that you stir it up to mix the two together, but I like to keep it separated. This way, after I finish with espresso, it is like finding buried treasure. You get hit with two distinct buzzes – one from the caffeine and another from the sugar.
I honestly did not expect to have one of the best bowls of pho I have ever had here, but I did. I shouldn’t have doubted the taste from a top culinary chef such as Emeril. BAM!
Bill total = 2 pho, 1 banh mi, 1 coffee, tax, tip = under $24 ($12 per person)
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