asian food guide
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Asian Food Guide
Gwen Ashley Walters
May, 2013, Page 68
Even by Asian cuisine standards, Vietnamese is nuanced – light, refreshing, and delicately flavored. A coastline stretching more than 2,000 miles means fish are plentiful, but in the U. S., beef and pork are more common. Rice is king, whether in the form of grains or noodles, but late 19th-century French colonists left an indelible mark – hence pâté-stuffed baguettes (banh mi) and savory crepes (banh xeo).
: Fish sauce (nuoc mam); lemongrass; star anise; lime; cilantro
Bun Bo Xao
Blank-slate rice vermicelli noodles get layered with mouth-popping flavor from garlic- and lemongrass-seared beef and
onions, fresh cilantro, fried shallots, crushed peanuts and a side of nuoc cham, the slightly sweet, slightly vinegary dipping elixir made with fish sauce ($5.25). 4538 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix, 602-242-3575
Thank the French for introducing baguettes to Vietnam, but thank the Vietnamese for creating insanely delicious (and ridiculously inexpensive) sandwiches with thinly sliced meats, pickled vegetables, cilantro and jalapeño slices for zing ($2.75-$3.25). 1901 W. Warner Rd., Chandler, 480-855-1778,
Literally “salad rolls,” goi cuon (fresh spring rolls) begin with brittle rice paper turning soft and slippery with a dunk in warm water. From there, any number of fillings are added to create a refreshing hand-held snack. Thinly sliced pork and shrimp are traditional, along with mint, rice vermicelli and vegetables. Rice Paper features 14 fresh spring rolls, from traditional to funky. 2221 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-252-3326,
Photo by Terri Lea Smith
Saigon Pho & Seafood
Traditionally a breakfast staple, pho (pronounced “fuh”) is an invigorating noodle soup suited for any meal. The delicate, cinnamon- and star anise-scented broth (either beef or chicken with plenty of onion slivers) is poured over thin rice stick noodles and topped with any number of proteins – sliced beef (tai), meatballs (bo vien), chicken (ga) or the most common version, a combination of sliced beef, meatballs, brisket, tendon and tripe (dac biet). Add accoutrements – basil, jalapeño slices, bean sprouts and lemon or lime slices – to taste ($5.95-$6.50). 1381 N. Alma School Rd., Chandler, 480-786-8828,
Get your hands – literally – on this onion- and turmeric-flavored rice crepe with wisp-thin, crisp edges folded over a purposefully meager amount of shrimp and pork and a generous amount of snappy bean sprouts ($7.99). Pinch off a large piece of crepe and stuff it inside a piece of lettuce along with pickled vegetables, cilantro and mint, and roll it up. Dunk the roll into nuoc cham. Now bite. Mmm. 7016 N. 57th Ave., Glendale, 623-939-6136, littlesaigonaz.com
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