Review: Pho Huong Viet

I had the pleasure of visiting Pho Huong Viet (3855 17th Ave SW, Calgary) this evening for dinner with my buddy JC as we got to catch up on life and a big moving decision that was coming up for him.

The restaurant is situated in a strip mall on a busy intersection and JC had mentioned it was often packed throughout the day.

The restaurant was half full when we arrived and had people lining up at the door by the time we departed!

It is a pleasantly estetic Vietnamese restaurant (most tend to go for pragmatic rather than pleasing design). The restaurant looks like it can seat about 50-60 people, the menu is priced fairly which is a surprise in a city that is well known for its Vietnamese cuisine and has seen prices inflate (unnecessarily) over the years.

JC went with the curry seafood noodle soup and I opted for my traditional choice of Pho Dac Biet (special Pho).
The reason I do this is that when I go to a restaurant, the item I want to put to the test is their signature dish, in this case, the special beef noodle soup. If a Pho restaurant fails at providing a good soup, they ahould not be in business.

The service was “slow” for a Pho restaurant, but I didn’t mind this. Typical Pho restaurants have cauldrons of Pho broth ready-to-go for their customers to get them in and out. However, the slower service actually reflected the quality of their food in this case as I found my soup was carefully prepared with just the right balance of noodles and soup and generously filled with various cuts of beef in a bowl so large that I haven’t seen in years.

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The soup was rich in flavour, it had a subtle sweetness, and it was fragrant.

Many Pho restaurants over the years have lost this touch of fragrance in their beef noodle soup and it is a sad thing; it is the fragrance that tantalizes the tastebuds of the potential diner and invites them to come and try out this particular meal.

I had mentioned to JC as we had pulled up to the restaurant that the name of the restaurant meant “Pho with the fragrance of Vietnam”; I’m glad their food lives up to the name of the restaurant!

I enjoyed my meal to say the least.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend it!

Nuoc Mam: The Vietnamese Sauce of Life

Nuoc Mam, that delectable but oft “foul” smelling sauce that accompanies many dishes in Vietnamese cuisine, particularly rice dishes and vermicelli bowls.

But what is Nuoc Mam? Simply put, it is fermented fish extract. Yup. Rotten fish juice. But how is it possible that something so foul to one’s imagination could be a culinary delight?

Fish sauce or nuoc mam can be homemade or factory produced; most fish sauce that is produced in the world comes from Thailand, only a few brands actually come from Vietnam.

The fish sauce that you can buy at a typical Asian grocery store still requires to be “mixed” in order to produce the “dipping sauce” that you are served at Vietnamese eateries.

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Epic Garlic Roasted Turkey Drumstick and Vermicelli

I saw a deal that I could not pass up today while grocery shopping at Lucky’s Supermarket today: two turkey drumsticks for $7!!

So i decided to roast the drumsticks and serve it with vermicelli!

The turkey drumsticks were simply sprinkled with salt and pepper and marinated in a splash of soy sauce and vinegar to help tenderize the meat. I cut up some garlic and crushed some whole cloves and places them in a pan with the drumsticks and then roasted them for 90 minutes at 380 degrees. I also added about a cup of water into the pan to help add humidity to the cooking process.

Here’s the end result:

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The drumsticks were absolutely splendid! They were moist and tender and had a wonderful garlic fragrance!

Until next time!

Fave Recipes: Chicken Wings in Cola Sauce!

Yes, the you read the title of this post correctly. One of my favourite recipes that I have is Chicken Wings braised in Cola Sauce. It was one of the first recipes that I learned from my mother as a young boy. It’s an easy recipe to teach a 10-year-old kid who was taking care of his 3 younger siblings while both parents are working in order to put their kids through school and have food on the table (the joys of being an immigrant family!).

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Musings On the Forbidden Fruit

It’s durian season and that means many Asian supermarkets in Calgary stock up on this frozen fragrant fruit. For many people, it’s a love-hate relationship when it comes to durian.

My father loves durian. My mother abhors it.

I like durian, my wife thinks I am crazy.

I think it receives such a love-hate relationship because really… it’s a fruit that is just so weird and wild!

Think about it… what would possess a person to look up a durian tree (yes… they grow on trees!) and say: “I wonder what that thing tastes like on the inside?”

Don’t you think God put spikes on the darn thing for a reason? Doesn’t it scream “Don’t eat me or you will die!”?

That’s why I think the forbidden fruit mentioned in the book of Genesis was probably a durian. Too many people think it’s an apple – seriously, what’s so scary about an apple? But the durian… one look at that and you can’t deny that there was something inherently forbidden built into its design!

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Just Chè (Dessert!)

Last Sunday my wife and had dinner with my parents and my mom had made a chè trái cây, a fruit dessert. My wife loved it! And so she wanted to make it herself.

In Vietnamese culture, all desserts are called “chè”. I had mentioned to my wife there were hundreds, if not thousands, of possible chè recipes – she didn’t believe me until she googled “chè” and was not happy that she could not find the particular recipe.

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