What a great way to start the new year….I just finished one of the best ethnic take-out dinners ever! Oh my, wowee, that was good! And to make it even better, the whole meal was rather hapharzard.
I was sitting home alone on the last night of a long holiday weekend. Just the day before I had cooked up a big brunch for 20-some friends and the kitchen still wasn’t back in order. Making dinner for my party of one was out of the question. This was an opportunity: diet starts tomorrow, husband is outta town, I can eat anything my little heart desires!
Well it took a few hours over the procrastination of some household chores, but I finally decided on Vietnamese food from a place I’ve walked past many times. Hien Vuong, in the Rivermarket area, is a small restaurant that packs some big flavor into its dishes. I couldn’t find a menu online, so I took the word of someone who had posted a review on Google. Picking a choosing from a plethora of items he had gushed about, I called in my order of a few appetizers and a couple entrees. It was an anonymous review, but I knew just a few blocks after leaving the restaurant that if the food tasted half as good as it smelled, that review was spot-on!
I got home and eagerly opened up the styrofoam containers to sample this new cuisine. I immediately snatched a little pan-fried chicken dumpling, dipped it into the runny sweet and sour sauce and devoured the guy in two bites. It was fantastic!
The dumplings were definitely the highlight of the appetizers. I sprinkled a little soy sauce in the top and voraciously worked through half the box. The spring rolls were nice, stuffed full with lettuce, cilantro, rice noodles and a few shrimp. Next time I will pass on the fried shrimp and sweet potato fries. Just tasted too much like a deep frier instead of seafood or potatoes.
To my delight, I had saved the best for last. The main dishes were by far the best orders of the night. It had sounded a little risky – the #26 bun noodles with sauteed lemongrass beef – but I just trusted that anonymous reviewer and took a chance. And I am oh so glad that I did. The thinly sliced beef was tender and seasoned with fresh lemongrass atop delicate rice noodles. It came with a wonderful mixture of sliced lettuce, beansprouts, cucumber and pickled carrots. Mixed altogether and topped with the accompanying side of fresh herbs, this dish was a mosaic of savory, textured and bright flavors. Marvelous!
But even better was the #40, chicken curry. Served with a wonderful jasmine rice, the tender chunks of chicken were cooked just right with cabbage, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. All of it was lightly tossed in a yellow curry – just enough to bring a whirlwind of flavors to the foundational ingredients. The curry sauce was not overpowering, but still carried an intense combination of warm flavors with hints of lemongrass and cinnamon. It was the most unique and most delicious curry I’ve tasted. I can’t wait to share this fare with friends.