Eating outside the Bến Thành Market, Ho Chi Minh City
We were looking for some authentic food, and decided to try this place outside the Bến Thành Market. It was touristy, but the food still looked authentic (what do we know, anyway?), so we thought we’d give it a whirl.
The food was actually very good. We started with bánh xèo, which is a crisy rice “cake.” It looks suspiciously like an omelette (well, a very thin omelette), but surprisingly, it has no egg. It gets its yellow color from turmeric. Inside is shrimp, pork and bean sprouts. You cut it up and roll it inside of the greens, and then dip it in the sauces.
We wanted to order the “Ear elephant fish fried bristly” but by the time we’d placed our order they were sold out. We were drawn to it for the presentation—the fish was fried in a way that enabled them to serve it “standing up” on the plate, as if it were swimming (maybe that’s what ‘bristly’ means?).
Instead we got the snapper, which was really deliciously grilled. It too made a nice presentation, even if it wasn’t in swimming formation (unless it was really a halibut!)
We also had some of the water morning glory. I’d forgotten how good it is, and will have to look for it at the Asian market. Yum, veggies!
When we were at the restaurant outside the Bến Thành Market in Saigon, some people around us had ordered a dish that had shrimp hanging on a coconut. The entire thing was flambéd and at the end, the shrimp was put inside the coconut (I presume there was coconut milk inside) and steamed/boiled further. It looked delicious (not to mention, how great that they did all the work of beheading and shelling the shrimp!) but we couldn’t eat more by that point.
Supposedly Miss Wong’s has some of the best cocktails in Siem Reap (duh!). Unfortunately, they were closed for the new year holiday, and didn’t reopen before we left town.
I would give credit but I have no idea who(m) to give it to.
(They say “whom” is dying out…did you know that? As is the rule about dangling prepositions.)
Noooooooo, non farlo!
(But I face that same dilemma whenever I see a donut, too!)
There’s a new wine bar in Burlingame. The name is a bit too cutesy for me—Grape Escape—and the font used in their logo makes it even worse. But I’m hoping the food and atmosphere make those non-issues in their success.
Ever since the closure of Nectar, my all-time favorite wine bar north of P.A. and south of SF, Burlingame has needed a good wine bar. I’m looking forward to checking out the food!
Sons and Daughters did not disappoint
A little over a year ago, we decided to go to Sons and Daughters on a last minute whim. I ended up raving about it. Not just here, but to anyone who would listen. I’ve always felt it was the best meal I’d ever had.
So I was a bit nervous going back a second time. It seems unlikely that a place can live up to such a memory. I’m happy to report, the experience was still impressive and delicious. The menu this time seemed a little more subdued—not quite as adventurous as what I remembered from the first visit. But still tasty nonetheless. I wonder if the menu was customized for one (or more of the guests) that night. Considering it’s a very small restaurant—they probably serve about 40-50 people a night—and it’s prix fixe—I’m guessing if someone says they have dietary restrictions, they may have to adjust the menu across the board.
I won’t detail all the food (like I did the first time) but I will say I had a delicious pinot noir: Waits-Mast ‘Oppenlander Vineyard’ 2009 from Mendocino County. WOW. Paired with squab. It was deliciously smooth and not cloyingly fruity. The sommelier gave me their contact info so I can find out how to acquire some bottles.
The first dinner in December 2011 still holds first place for best meal ever. Last night’s was a little less amazing, but still very good, and beautifully presented. Doing the complete wine pairing makes a difference (last night I shared, so really only had a couple of sips of each). Conversation and company also have a lot of impact. Not that last night’s wasn’t good—just different.
A friend forwarded this link today (in an email aptly titled “Fishy”) about how many restaurants and some markets are selling fish that is not really what they say it is. How disturbing is that? Read up on the mentioned escolar, and you’ll be even more disgusted. You may choose not to eat fish—well, maybe you can eat salmon—in restaurants anymore!
Taking a trip in the wayback machine: the Tonga Room
Wednesday night I was at the Jackson Browne concert at the Masonic Auditorium on Nob Hill in SF. Due to an early start time, I wanted to find a place closeby for a quick bite to eat. The first thing that came to mind was the Tonga Room at the Fairmont: I figured that would be a great place for a cocktail and some appetizers.
We didn’t have a lot of time, but the food was actually not bad (I think that’s as close to a resounding endorsement of this type of joint as you can get). Nothing really worth describing, but at least our stomachs didn’t growl during the concert.
I wonder how the menu has changed over the years. I think it the 80s it must have been a bit more continental, judging from the dishware on the table in the photo below. In those days, they had women working the dining room who would take your picture (with a camera with film!). Probably cigarette girls too. In any case, they’d sell you prints of the photo—in a souvenir frame, or on a matchbook or keychain. Of course we had to buy some!
Trying to be grown-ups at the Tonga Room, 1980. John and Diane (if I remember correctly!), and me and Tim.
I don’t think I’d been to the Tonga Room since then. The website says it received a $1M makeover, but it still looks pretty much the same as I remembered it (granted, my memory of 33 years ago is sketchy). Still a tacky tiki lounge—exactly what you want from this type if place!
They have a well-provisioned (and apparently very popular) happy hour. We’ll have to go back some time—and maybe stay until after 8, when the top 40s band comes out on the boat set in the lagoon where the fake rain showers down. Yes, you have to see it to believe it.
Tosca lives to see another day
Someone has invested in Tosca and will enable it to keeps its doors open with Jeannette Etheredge staying involved in some capacity. That’s great news—it’s a fantastic time machine in the heart of North Beach.
The new owners are successful restauranteurs from New York. Sean Penn, a regular of Tosca, reached out to them when he heard the plight of the bar. Looks like they’ll bring in a new food menu but keep the decor and drink list essentially the same.
Should be interesting!
Dec 27 Reblogged
Hot Chocolate Tin Design for the Clifton Coffee Company (2012)
Copyright Ben Newman
Love this artist’s style. If this were a poster, I know someone for whom this would be the perfect gift!