1. Lastly, a rare shot of the both of us in Vietnam (since one of us was filming or taking pictures.)

    Keep posted for our short videos of the street food vendors we profiled in Vietnam, which we’ll post on our YouTube (once we get done with the editing, that is!)

    Photo by the lovely Eric Wolfinger

     

  2. Eater’s Digest: Hanoi

    Hanoi Beef Pho

    Hanoi-Style Beef Pho 

    Inside: Not much — and that’s the way we like it. Beef, broth, scallions, and fresh noodles.

    Verdict: We love the simplicity of Hanoi-style pho, which doesn’t include the bean sprouts and herb plate that usually accompanies Southern-style pho. This way, you’re able to get straight to what’s good — the warm, savory broth. Our experience at this street food stand inspires our version of pho. Clean and simple.

    Extra bits: We discovered this spot while walking down alongside Xuan Dieu Street in the Tay Ho District. A taxi cab driver ran into Katie (well, brushed up against her with his car) to pull over into this spot. We figured it must be good if cab drivers are willing to kill for a bowl.

     Cha Ca Spread

    Cha Ca at Cha Ca Va Long

    Inside: Tumeric fish, cooked in hella oil, accompanied with dill, chiles, scallions, bean sprouts, peanuts, soy sauce and rice vermicelli noodles.

    Verdict: Always a fun dish. Watch the fish fry up on your table top, and add dill and other toppings to your heart’s desire. The pungent fermented shrimp paste will always be was mellowed out with lime juice and sugar - proving to be as addictive as it is funky.

    Sweet n Sour Pho Noodles Plate Up

    Sweet and Sour Pho Noodles 

    Inside: Fresh rice noodles tossed in a thick sweet and sour sauce, with dill, cilantro, lettuce, sliced cucumbers, peanuts, and fried shallots.  

    Verdict: Yum town. Fresh rice noodles were the reason why we loved Hanoi. 

    Extra bits: They usually don’t plate it like this, but when one of the young cooks saw me taking pictures, he took extra time to make it look pretty.

    Fish Cakes and Sticky Rice

    Fish Cakes 

    Inside: Fish cake and a moist “mochi” stuffed with ground pork and wood ear mushrooms.  We suspect the mochi was a combination of sweet rice and tapioca starch. 

    Verdict: We think we enjoyed it. By this time we were having so much fun shootin the shit with our friends, our notes fell by the wayside. We’ll have to try and recreate this dish to see.

    IMG_5424 Squid Linguine @ Restaurant Bobby Chinn

    Squid Linguine at Restaurant Bobby Chinn

    Inside: Thinly-shaved squid, avocado, wasabi and tobiko

    Verdict: Good. Can’t go wrong since it’s basically all our favorite ingredients rolled into one.

    Extra bits: Pictured above is Bobby’s Chef D, who along with other six other females, are a part of Blue Dragon, which brings women from the countryside into professional kitchens in the city. They believe that by giving teaching them a trade and paying them a good wage it would help break the poverty cycle. Bobby Chinn also donates a percentage of his sales to Blue Dragon. We approve.

     Sauteed Frog A Hotpot of Goodies

    Hot Pot with Hanoi Hipsters

    Inside: What wasn’t inside!  Crispy frog legs, tofu, Xian greens, fried tofu skins, little fresh bamboo shoots, tomato, enoki mushrooms, greens.  It’s was if someone went down the line at a market and put one of each thing in their pot. Delicious as always. 

    Verdict: Hot pot, cold beers, and a group of good people make for fun times and soup facials.

    Extra bits: Our new friends took us to their favorite hot pot spot for lunch. The key is to know the order in which to add things. You don’t want to be gun happy and add all the ingredients as once, as some things take longer than others to cook.

     

  3. Scenes from Hanoi

    The West Lake

    It’s been six months since we were in Hanoi, the last city on our month-long tour of Vietnam.

    We suppose we’ve been procrastinating on these last recap blog posts because we didn’t want to accept that the journey was over.

    But it isn’t. We recently decided to go on another month-long trip to Vietnam late February/early March, this time concentrating on the Central and Northern regions, as well as a yet-to-be-determined city in China.

    And our relationships and memories still live on. While in Hanoi, we met up with the ever-so-talented Eric Wolfinger, whose photos we drooled over in the Tartine Bread book. He was on assignment for Charles Phan’s upcoming cookbook and we bonded over Cha Ca (Tumeric Fish with Dill) in between bites of the food and the clicks of our DSLRs.

    EW in Action

    Our first meeting turned into a 36-hour whirlwind of street food, games of Thirteen (a Vietnamese card game) at numerous cafes, and hours spent at streetside pubs — experiences we shared that influenced our Food and Wine photoshoot that we shot with him.

    Eric also introduced us to a couple of Hanoi hipsters that took us to Pho Cuon Alley, where we picked up the Beef Pho Roll dish we’ve been serving ever since we got back.

    New Friends Gifting Us This Notepad!

    Our adopted bro Boon also joined us in Hanoi, and today we learned that he’s moving back to the States, so hopefully we’ll see his mischievous grin again when we visit him in Michigan or when he pop-ups here in San Francisco.

    Katie + Val + Boon Photo Bomb

    We made another great friend in Hanoi — Bobby Chinn, restauranteur and TV host, whose Vietnamese cookbook we consulted early on in our cooking days. The lovely Traci Jardinere introduced us to him when she heard about our trip.

    Bobby Chinn @ Restaurant Bobby Chinn

    It was surreal to be crashing at the house of a chef who’s book lent us so much knowledge. We were thankful for his hospitality, as well as the many shots of Patron that lead to a dance party (Moves Mick Jagger will never sound the same) that then lead to stargazing on the rooftop and wishing we had one more night. The next morning, with only two hours of sleep, we drunkenly schlepped to the airport to head back to Saigon then the States.

    Too much fun. Going through these memories makes us excited for a reunion with our Hanoi friends is only a short while away :)

    See more photos from our trip here

     

  4. SF Street Food Fest Menu; Inspired By Our Eats In Vietnam

    We’ve only got three days left to get into the SF Street Food Festival (voting ends this Wednesday, July 25th!).  As a countdown, we are going to offer you three reasons why you should VOTE US IN - each day another reason!  

    #1 WE WILL MAKE YOU DAMN GOOD FOOD

    Street food is at the heart of Rice Paper Scissors.  We don’t mess around when we set up in alleyways and warehouses, designing regional Vietnamese menus and bringing unique flavors to SF.  We have even travelled to Vietnam to eat and report on street food 3 times a day for a month! Thats almost 100 street food dishes in our tummies!  We are all about creating unique dining experiences, so here is a unique menu, just for the SF Street Food Fest. 

    SF Street Food Fest Menu 

    Grilled Baby Octopus
    served with salt, pepper, and lime

    Inspiration: Making new friends in Saigon over charcoal grilled octopus and balut over here.

    Pork Belly Banh Mi Dac Biet
    slow roasted pork belly with Vietnamese style pork pate, and ground pork ragu, served with pickled daikons, cucumbers, jalapenos, and cilantro.

    Inspiration: Nervously ordering the meat special sandwich with meat ragu at Banh Mi Phuong at the Market in Hoi An. Downing it within 2 minutes.

    Vietnamese Iced Coffee
    slow dripped Trung Nguyen coffee and condensed milk, served over ice.

    Inspiration: Was endless days of coffee or endless coffees in a day?

    If you’re as excited about this menu as we are get it August 18th!  But VOTE Rice Paper Scissors first!

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    Coffee service IMG_0307

     

  5. RPS plays Tic Tac Toe

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    Our first day in Hue, we encountered what looked like two construction workers arguing over the mark-up of the citadel sidewalks.  Upon further inquiry, we learned that they were playing an elaborate game of tic tac toe.  Except in this case, the number of X’s in a line was 5, and the squares to play were the tiles of the sidewalk.  

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    The players were, in fact, xe om or motorbike taxi drivers and they played for cigarettes and rounds of coffee.  The xe om driver in the yellow hat explained that this was a game he used to play in grade school, on graph paper.  Killing time between rides, he noticed that the tiles of the citadel closely resembled the grid pattern of his yester-year - and thus, the game was born.  Resourceful too the max, he used chipped tiles as chalk to draw lines in the ground. 

    Katie played a round and then Michiel, a cook/friend, we met along the way jumped in.  

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    Playing games and hanging with xe om drivers in a hustle-free atmosphere was a great way to kick it in Hue.  We love playing games (as do the Vietnamese) as it is a great way to meet people and bust some balls.  Later that night, we posted up at a bar and played Thirteen, the national card game of Vietnam (similar to President or Asshole), meeting new friends with every hand played. 

     

  6. Scenes from Hue

    Oh beautiful beautiful Hue!  It’s hard to imagine we did all this in just two days…

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    Photo captions by number:

    1. Residence on the south river

    2. Valerie in a cyclo - gotta try it once ya’ll!

    3. Spit fired ducks, served in the citadel

    4. Getting down on Banh Bot Loc

    5. Little red stool altars for the full moon

    6. Katie at the coffee shop

    7. Cards in play: Thirteen, the national card game

    8. Boon reunion, right before hopping onto an overnight train to Hanoi

     

  7. The Fashion of Hue

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    Walking the hamlets south of the main river was our favorite way to take in Hue.  Off main arteries of traffic, we ducked into small side streets where everyday life was going strong.  The architecture of the buildings (Chinese influenced) and the willowy trees were enchanting.  They also signified a transition into northern Vietnam.  

    What caught our eye above all?  The street fashion.  As the weather got colder (in comparison to Saigon), people donned lavish coats and trendy fashion.  

    This season’s must have? Fur lined coats. 

    Ch-ch-check it out!

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    <3

     

  8. 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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  9. Adventures with Boon

    photo by Eric Wolfinger

    We became friends because he talked some shit.

    It was our first night in Hoi An. Wet, windy, cold — a tough transition from the hot hot heat of the Central Highlands.

    I was ordering dessert with my slightly broken Vietnamese when a 15-year-old-looking boy heckled me. “Ey,” he hollered. “I like your American Vietnamese accent!”

    This is the first time someone’s called us out in English. The instigator was Boon — a 19 or 22-year-old Vietnamese-American (depending on whether you look at Vietnamese or American documents) by way of Michigan. He was ditching school in the States to travel and hang out in Vietnam where he was originally born.

    Boon had thick eyebrows and a goofy grin that suggested (and confirmed) how mischievous he is. His (and our) immature sense of humor and love for hijinks brought us together. He quickly became our translator and partner-in-crime.

    Together we explored Hoi An - filming a family making Cau Lao noodles at 5am, hanging out at the gray beaches trying to convince tourists that we were local guides, and playing countless rounds of Thirteen, a Vietnamese card game. We affectionally dubbed him “em,” which means younger brother in Vietnamese.

    After Hoi An, Boon traveled with us to Hue and Hanoi and made promises to see us back in the States. However, we haven’t heard from him since we got back to the States — not a surprise — despite being extremely lovable, we can’t say we’re 100% sure about who he said he was. We still miss him everyday when we don’t have someone to play cards with.

    He’s not on Facebook, nor is he Google-able, so we’re not sure he really existed or was a figment of our imagination. Luckily our friend (and talented photographer) Eric Wolfinger snapped some pictures of us all hanging out and gambling in Hanoi. If it weren’t for these pics, it might have never really happened!

    Those pics just warm our hearts!

    Em — if you’re reading this — email us with a VIABLE phone number and your coordinates. Your big sisters are not too happy with you, but we won’t beat up on you too hard ;)

     

  10. Scenes from Hoi An

    1. Handmade lanterns from Hoi An, many of which we schlepped back to the States!

    2. Encountered the rain. Made for some interesting outfits, many of which we would not repeat back home.

    3. Badass vendor, who doesn’t have to sit up to sell food. This is what we’re striving to attain.

    4. Taking one of many coffee breaks.

    5. The bridge

    6 & 7. We visited Chi Hien’s house to film her making Cau Lao and were fortunate enough to have lunch with her family. One of the boys almost threw a cleaver at us, but despite that hitch, we had a great time.

    8. Chilling after a 5am shoot where we documented a family who’s been making Cau Lao noodles for three generations.

    9. Last but not least, our Hoi An crew! Gerland to the left, and our adopted little brother/sidekick Boon. We took a ferry across the harbor for some grilled stingray. Unfortch they sold out by the time we got there, but it was a fun trip nonetheless.