1. On the Menu: Ham Sui Gok

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    Ham Sui Gok (pronounced HUM-SOY-GOK) is a dim sum dish we put on our menu during the Lunar New Year and haven’t taken off!

    Katie discovered them on her trip to Hong Kong last year and fell in love with the fried mochi dumping. The outside layer is a subtly sweet crispy and chewy mochi. Inside you’ll find a savory pork and shittake mushroom filling.

    Come try them at our Thursday pop-up at Mojo Bicycle Cafe or at our Dear Mom pop-up on Sunday.

     

  2. How We Roll: Bo Bia

    For our three-city tour with The Bold Italic we chose to make Bo Bia, a type of Vietnamese spring roll. We made two versions: the traditional one featured Chinese Sausage and Egg while the Vegan/Vegetarian version had Fried Tofu (and Egg). Both are served with a peanut sauce.

    We chose this dish because 1) who doesn’t like spring rolls and 2) it’s a less common in the US, but something we came across often in Vietnam. Better yet, the ingredients are easily found in each city.

    We love our fresh the rolls taste. Wanna try? We’re serving up our Vegetarian Bo Bia at our pop-up at Mojo Bicycle Cafe this Thursday.

    Here’s a visual breakdown of what’s in our Bo Bia.

    Rice Paper For Life! Untitled Untitled Untitled Bo Bia Spring Rolls

     

  3. Eater’s Digest: SF Chefs

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    Last last weekend, we got a chance to attend SF Chefs - a restaurant, food, booze, lovefest in Union Square. 40+ bites, 20+ beverages, and all around good times.  OH the things we ate!

    Through the hum of it all, here is what we learned:

    1. Eating food is much easier than taking photos of food

    2. There is no shame in walking around with a wine sampling glass attached to your neck.

    3. Ruebens and pastrami are so hot right now.

    Here are the highlights and some good ole food porn:

    Beef Heart Reuben

    Beef heart reuben from Michael Minna. Thanks John!

    Lamb Pastrami

    Lamb Pastrami.

    Wine Coozie

    Attendees know no shame. Wine coozies to free your hands to double fist food.

    Bone Marrow Brulee

    Bone marrow brulee from Jordan Grosser, chef at Honor Bar and the Lake Chalet Restaurant Group.

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    Photo bomb! What up Jordan!

    Check out the full photo set here.  Until next year SF Chefs! 

     

  4. Eater’s Digest: Hue

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    Fried Frog Legs

    Inside: Fresh frog legs stir fried in chilis, peanuts, garlic, and onions. 

    Verdict:   A-ok in our book.  Maybe not the best frogs ever, but the sauce was darn tasty and whetted our rice for more!

    Extra bits: Michiel, a traveling cook (at 3 star Michelins) we met along our travels, ordered this dish out of love for the divine amphibians.  Although he was versed in the French preparation, he had never had southeast Asian style. 

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    Banana Blossom Salad 

    Inside: Poached banana blossoms, rau ram, peanuts, chilis, garlic, shrimp, and beef!  Paired with a crispy tapioca and sesame cracker. 

    Verdict: This dish screams Hue-style cuisine: unexpected pairings of flavors and opulence. Unlike common preparations for banana blossoms, this dish’s braised banana blossoms, that took on a meaty, almost poultry, texture. This dish was as delicious as it was fun to eat - delightful surprises around every corner. :)

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    Braised Whole Fish

    Inside: A whole fish, seasoned with garlic, shallots, chilis, and ginger, braised in a foil packet.  Served with paper thin sheets of rice paper, nuoc cham, and herbs. 

    Verdict: Yum, yum, and yum.  This fish came out super tender and meaty.  The fun came in filling super thin paper with filets and making small “tacos”.  So finger-licking good, we ate the whole fish - we even ate the meaty parts of the head!

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    Che - Che bars are everywhere in Hue.  There are at least 15 different mixtures of fillings you choose from.  Just walk up to the cart, point at what looks good and wait as they pile them.  The fillings included mochi balls in coconut milk, poached taro cubes, and sweet red beans to name a few.  They are always topped off with shaved ice and coconut milk.  Swoon. 

    Inside: Tapioca balls, sweet mung beans, coconut chards, agar jello, boiled peanuts, shaved ice, and fresh coconut milk.  

    Verdict:  YES!  The myriad of textures was divine.  We especially loved the soft boiled peanuts, that are unlike roasted peanuts in so many ways.  Digging into the shaved ice with long spoons and checking out the hustle bustle of the streets is a ritual we came to love in Hue. 

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    Forgot the Name :(

    Inside: Rice vermicelli, a bit of hot pork broth, chicharrones, peanuts, fresh banana blossoms, cilantro, salt/pepper. 

    Verdict: We were not wooed by this dish.  Kind of left us wanting more. 

    Extra bits:  We were directed to this dish by a women who heard us rave over the banana blossom salad (shown above).  Thought the specific shop she directed us to was closed, we found a close second next door.  

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    Banh Ep

    Inside: Flat tapioca and egg pancake, braised pork, pickled carrots and daikons, green papaya, served with nuoc cham. 

    Verdict: We hit the jackpot with this little dish!  We planned on sharing just one, and we ate 8 in total.  The airy texture of the pancake, the flavor of the pork, and the refreshing crunch of the vegis were a party in our mouths. 

    Extra bits:  We found this place on the side of the road, and decided to take a seat (at a little red stool) after we saw their awesome preparation technique.  Fluffy white squares of tapioca dough, topped off with a small piece of braised pork, were inserted into what looked like a hot tortilla press on and flattened to a perfect pancake.  Egg was added and quickly seared into the pancake.  As the Banh Ep came off the press, it was filled with vegis and brought to our table. 

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  5. Gettin’ Sauced

    We visited Hung Tham fish sauce factory in Phu Quoc. Despite following our noses, something about huge vats in dark shacks eluded us!  We couldn’t find the door for a good 10 minutes!

    We did some filming and interviewing, so we just wanted to release some shots from the visit! Enjoy!

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    The master distiller.  He’s got everything - dates, times, schedules - recorded in his head.  We wish we could say the same…

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    The good stuff - in raw form. Don’t be scared!

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    Purse fish sauce yields beautiful salt crystals. 

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    Two grades, #40 and #35, the former being more potent.  The owners only take #40 in their nuoc mam (fish sauce).  

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    Good thing they we scored an invite to the table for some rice noodles with shredded pork skin noodles, mint, lettuce, cha lua (Vietnamese ham).  The chili nuoc mam sauce was perfectly balanced in salinity and flavor. These guys don’t mess around!

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  6. Eater’s Digest: Saigon

    We’re here to eat street food, and lots of it. Here’s how we made our first dent in Saigon!

    Chao Long - Offal Rice Porridge

    Inside: Tasty pig parts like blood cubes, intestines, and liver, topped with a Chinese donut and bean sprouts

    Verdict: Loved it. Full of texture. Can’t wait to try our hand at it.

    Extra bits: Our vendor was a third-generation Chao Long vendor; her 40-year-old beautiful blue cart was passed down from her mother. We shared our table with a very drunk man who paid for us before we even had the chance to pay up, showing us how generous Vietnamese folks can be.

    Xoi Bap - Corn Sticky Rice

    Inside: Hominy, sticky rice, fried shallots. Topped with sugar and roasted sesame seeds.

    Verdict: We’re accustomed to eating regular xoi, a sweet mung bean sticky rice. This version is more on the savory side due to the use of salt and shallots. Perfect for breakfast.

    Extra bits: Scarfed it down in about two minutes.

    Hot Vit Lon - Fertilized Duck Egg

    Inside: Fertilized duck/quail. Basically a somewhat developed fetus, complete with feathers and soft beaks.

    Verdict: Duck egg faired better with the lime/salt/pepper dipping sauce, which helped us ease into the idea of eating feathers. The quail eggs tasted like little boiled eggs, and paired well with rau rum, a Vietnamese herb.

    Bap Xao - Sauteed Corn

    Inside: Sticky corn, dried shrimp, fried shallots, chili, margarine

    Verdict: Yum! We make this dish quite often at our Banh Mi Thursdays, but we’re not able to get our hands on sticky corn in the States, so it was a treat to eat this more toothsome maize.

    Ok, this isn’t street food - but check out the huge coffee filters we scored! We’ll be ready to churn out tons of drip coffee for you when we get back!

    V + K

     

  7. The Green Papaya Shuffle

    Under the trees that line Con Vien park, off Hai Ba Trung street, we spotted some 20 people feasting on green papaya salad, Saigon style. Their plates were filled with finely shredded papaya, beef jerky, prawn crackers, chili sauce, peanuts, and, of course, sweet fish sauce. 

    Instead of sitting on little red stools, the diners were seated on linoleum seat covers laid out under the trees. 

    What was not present was the green papaya cart itself, which turned out to be across street.  Upon closer examination, we deduced that the owners were running a two pronged approach to street food hustling.  Back-of-house operations and take-out orders were executed on one side of the street, while front-of-house service was conducted on the other side of the street.

    Each plate started with a tuft of green papaya and was topped off with fried prawn crackers, a bit of beef jerky, peanuts, and fresh basil.

    Half assembled, the plates were then stacked on a metal tray, brought across the street to the park, and mounted on the back of a motorbike. 

    How they managed to keep the salads from toppling over is just the tricks of the trade.

    Before bringing them out to customers, the women finished the dishes off with chili sauce, fish sauce, and another handful of herbs.

    Swoon.

    We couldn’t help but steal some shade and get down on the cool refreshing salad.  The papaya made our lips smack, the jerky made out bellies dance, and the chilis made our noses run.  Best way to beat that Saigon heat!

    Their thoughts exactly.