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Diann

Upper Darby restaurants

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I'm thinking of stopping by the new Han Ah Reum/Hmart in Upper Darby this weekend and would like to grab a meal in the area since there are so many places to try...

I had been thinking of Xochimilco (sp?) but apparently, they're closed, so what do you think about any of the following:

- Sabor Latino

- Alisa Cafe

- Little Saigon

- La Marqueza

Do any of these places make something that's really great/can't miss? What about other restaurants I haven't heard of? LaBan gave Sabor Latino two stars, but I want more opinions. Thanks!

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Alisa cafe is long gone - now in South Jersey :sad:

I've had good Bun at little Saigon, but haven't tried anything else. I hear tell that HMart has a second floor with interesting fast food. I'd try that first.

Enjoy,

Kevin

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Little Saigon makes the best spring rolls in the known universe. And some very fine soups too. Get the Hue soup if it's even a little bit cold out. Or hot out. Or raining. Or dry.

Just get the Hue soup.

They also have this beef cubes with garlic sauce thing that's really good... it's pretty solid, if not spectacular, in general. Some of the bigger places in Chinatown or Washington Ave might be stronger overall, but for a few things, Little Saigon rocks...

Jeeze, i might have to go get springrolls now...

I like Sabor Latino, it's got offerings from many countries south of the border, and the several I've tried have been good. There's also a little Peruvian Place (El Sol de Peru?) which is basic, homey, hearty, good stuff.

James loves the little place across the street from the H Mart in the old White Castle, he can tell you what to get there.

I used to like Xochimilco, but they moved, and changed names. I haven't been to what's there now. And I LOVED Alisa Cafe, but as noted above, it's long-gone.

You can get some pretty darn good food in Upper Darby, just decide from what country...

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Aw crap. Anyone feel like going on an eating tour of Upper Darby with me? Spring rolls here, a little bit of Korean food there, maybe some arepas, a little Peruvian food...and then let's go grocery shopping afterwards, just in case you didn't have enough food. :raz:

That may be the only way to resolve my dilemma (don't know what to eat, so eat everything).

Little Saigon makes the best spring rolls in the known universe.  And some very fine soups too.  Get the Hue soup if it's even a little bit cold out. Or hot out. Or raining. Or dry. 

Just get the Hue soup.

They also have this beef cubes with garlic sauce thing that's really good... it's pretty solid, if not spectacular, in general. Some of the bigger places in Chinatown or Washington Ave might be stronger overall, but for a few things, Little Saigon rocks...

Jeeze, i might have to go get springrolls now...

I like Sabor Latino, it's got offerings from many countries south of the border, and the several I've tried have been good.  There's also a little Peruvian Place (El Sol de Peru?) which is basic, homey, hearty, good stuff.

James loves the little place across the street from the H Mart in the old White Castle, he can tell you what to get there.

I used to like Xochimilco, but they moved, and changed names. I haven't been to what's there now.  And I LOVED Alisa Cafe, but as noted above, it's long-gone. 

You can get some pretty darn good food in Upper Darby, just decide from what country...

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Also, I haven't made it in yet, so I'm not sure of this, but I think there's prepared food on the second level of the H-Mart, so you could get pretty stuffed just in that building...

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If you're going to HMart, the food court upstairs has an excellent Korean restaurant called Jian. I had the Dol-Sot BibimBab (beef,veg,rice) served in a hot stone bowl. Everything was fresh and piping hot. They'll bring it all out to your table. Portions are generous.

Xochimilco's owners have moved to a new restaurant in Primos on Providence Rd. The name of the new restaurant is Hidalgo and it's in a shopping center with a CVS pharmacy.

If you come (to Hidalgo)* from Lansdowne Ave don't pass the Penn Pines Shopping Center on the way without picking up some soft pretzels from Bernie's Pretzel Bakery. Penn Pines Diner is another good place to eat, and some of the cheapest gas in the area is at the Sunoco & Lukoil stations across the street.

*edit


Edited by bob tenaglio (log)

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All this talk of Little Saigon made it impossible to resist those springrolls, so I got a couple orders to take-out.

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Tragically, we got there pretty late, and there had been an unexpected demand for regular spring rolls earlier in the evening, and they had run out, so we got the vegetarian version. And I was fine with that, they're almost as good as the ones made with ground pork. It's really all about the crackly, bubbly flaky, crispy wrappers that somehow end up less oily than most. Both fillings are tasty too, not the blah shreds of cabbage and noodles you end up with some places.

We also ordered pork with curry sauce, and beef with lemongrass, both of which were even better than I had remembered, or maybe they're just better made with those meats than with the chicken I often order, for some reason... Sorry, they didn't look like much in their take-out containers, so I didn't bother with pix. Next time!

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James loves the little place across the street from the H Mart in the old White Castle, he can tell you what to get there.

get the little grilled fish that the lady makes, which i can't remember the name of. and her haemul pajun, which is the best example of this in the known universe. but mostly get the gamjjatang, which is pork neck bone and potato stew, which is the greatest drinkin dish ever.

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James loves the little place across the street from the H Mart in the old White Castle, he can tell you what to get there.

get the little grilled fish that the lady makes, which i can't remember the name of. and her haemul pajun, which is the best example of this in the known universe. but mostly get the gamjjatang, which is pork neck bone and potato stew, which is the greatest drinkin dish ever.

Assuming you're talking about mrbigjas and his recommendation of the little shop in front of the railroad tracks, I think the latest buzz was that that place was no longer open.

That's what I vaguely remember from a few months ago, can anyone else confirm or deny this?

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uh, i wrote that, and i was there a couple of weeks ago. and am planning a return visit soon--it's still there, and still open.

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Three questions

1. There's a new Korean supermarket in Upper Darby called H-Mart? If so, where is it?

2. Where is Little Saigon?

3. What's the name of the Korean snack shop in the old White Tower across from the trolley tracks?

If you're not sure of addresses, just tell me what it's near or directions from 69th St. Station

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1. it's in that strip mall where woo rae kwan was.

2. dunno

3. pojangmacha. get the gamjjatang, the haemul pajun and a bottle of yipsejoo.

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As Jas said, the H-Mart is where woo rae kwan was, which is to say, on the west side of terminal square, just to the east of the trolley tracks.

If you stepped out of the H-Mart, turned 5 degrees to the right, and threw that durian you just bought across the trolley tracks, you might hit Pojangmacha.

If instead of tossing stinky fruit, you turned to your left, and then made a hard left at the Hello Kitty emporium on the corner, the next shop on the south-facing side of Terminal Square is Little Saigon. Next to that is a newish Mexican place. A few hundred feet down the block, and just barely around the corner to the left on the east-facing side of terminal Square is El Sol de Peru. A few more feet down that side of the block is Sabor Latino.

One could eat one's self silly on that block without ever crossing the street, except to get to Pojangmacha. Which is exactly what we're going to try... (see ISO)

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uh, i wrote that, and i was there a couple of weeks ago. and am planning a return visit soon--it's still there, and still open.

Glad to hear I remember incorrectly.

I still want to check it out, but can't make the trip this weekend.

Naturally, pictures will be posted?


Edited by herbacidal (log)

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We did Little Saigon for lunch today. Flavette had the roast pork/cha gio/noodles special, while I did bahn xeo and bun bo hue, with cafe sue da.

The bun bo hue was strictly prefab broth, and a disappointment. Still gotta go to Washington Ave. and other points in South Philly to get it done the "right" way, and at that I just about have to beg for the blood tablet, etc. The banh xeo was a bit better, but decidedly shrimp-deficient. Flavette reported that she enjoyed both the pork and the cha gio better than she had at other places. Happily, the iced coffee was freshly made and worthwhile.

Dessert was a palmera apiece (elephant ears) around the corner from the convenience store next to Sol del Peru. They were surprisingly good, with a nice, light and airy hojaldre, if a bit less sweet than I like, but that's the Mexican way, and their tastes predominate around here in certain things. Interestingly, the guy behind the counter is half-Spanish, half-German, and we had a nice conversation about the World Cup activity coming up soon in Europe.

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I've had extensive conversations with Edward, the owner, about their soups, and I can guarantee there are no prefab broths at Little Saigon. Still, sorry you didn't like it. I've had that countless times and loved each bowl. I've found that particular soup to be superior to others in town, but I'd love to know where you get a better one.

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Upper Darby, April 1, 2006

450,000 calories without crossing the street.

What was originally conceived-of as a simple trip the H-Mart somehow turned into an all-day eating binge. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that these things happen when eGulleteers get together. Our intent was to visit all of the iconic eateries near the H-Mart, but after a few stops it became obvious that we couldn't possibly manage to visit all the places that looked interesting, so there'll have to be a part two.... probably a part three...

We literally did not cross the street all day, simply exploring the amazing diversity that exists on one single block.

We started in the newly-opened H-Mart

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Upstairs, there's a small food court and a few other businesses. There's Chinese, fried chicken, Sushi, a bakery and Korean. A little observation revealed that everyone was ordering fom the Korean counter, so we followed suit. Oddly, even though we sat there for some time, not a single person seemed to order anything from any of the other areas, just the Korean.

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And everything we saw others order from Jian Korean Cuisine looked really good.

As we were trying to pace ourselves for a long trek, and this was officially breakfast, we simply ordered two soups:

SulRong Tang (Snowy White Ox Bone Soup)

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This was very mild, but comforting and warming, with a few slices of beef, and not too much else in the murky broth. Some sliced scallions, a little salt, and even a touch of hot sauce (all provided in little cups) perked it up a bit.

I think we all preferred the Yook Gae Jang (Spicy Beef and Vegetable Soup)

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This was not extremely spicy, but carried a nice gentle kick. The very flavorful broth hid a wide variety of textures and tastes, with various vegetables and tender shreds of beef. This was a real winner.

Jian mostly serves soups, stews, rice dishes, casseroles and other things in bowls, all of it between 5 and 7 dollars. We're not sure why nobody went to any of the other counters, but we certainly understand why they do order from Jian.

Next, we went downstairs to the H-Mart proper. There's actually not a whole lot of square footage in this store, but they pack in an astonishing amount of food in there. The produce looks fresh and is VERY cheap, and there's a vast array of fresh and live seafood, prepared foods, fresh and frozen meats, and the expected packaged foods. There was an amazing range of hard-to-find meats, often pre-cut in various shapes and sizes. There had to be 10 different cuts of pork belly (including Berkshire Pork, cut like thick bacon), thick and thin slices of shortribs, amazingly meaty-looking oxtails, tongues, tails, gizzards and on and on... There were also a surprising number of free samples on offer, one could put together a decent lunch on saturday just browsing the aisles. There were many free tastes offered of what looked like house-made preparations for sale in bulk, ranging from spicy pork, through bulgogi, to pickled vegetables and dried squid. One could also try an example of their vast array of frozen dumplings, and more... Great place, I'm eager to go back soon, when I wouldn't have to drag fresh pork bellies around with me all day!

We took a left out of the H-Mart, and another left past Little Saigon, which we discovered does not do lunch on saturdays, but no worries, we just kept going around the block, and just around the next corner was Sol de Peru.

I figure it's always a good idea to drink the local drinks with the local cuisine, so I went for an Inka Cola as we perused the menu.

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It's, umm.. very yellow. Make that golden. It was actually not bad at all, a little sweet, but fruity in an unusual way, it almost had a hint of banana, and some citrus, and...yellow.

We also tried some fruit drinks, which are available mixed with water or milk, we did these con leche

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My apologies, I don't remember which fruits these were, but they were both quite good, refreshing like a thin milkshake.

The main menu looked good, but very hearty, and indeed some plates we saw as we walked in looked HUGE, so we decided to just order some appetizers, in order to save space for a few more stops.

We had a side order of Maduros Plantanos which were nicely sweet and soft with crunchy edges, and not at all oily.

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When in a Peruvian place, it only seems right to get something based on potatoes, so we got an order of Papas Rellenas

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This was surprisingly light mashed potatoes filled with spiced ground beef, and fried. We liked this a lot, like the plantains, it was fried perfectly, to give a nice crust without getting greasy.

we also ordered Aji de Mondongo, tripe in a yellow pepper sauce, served on top of (surprise!) potatoes, topped with an egg.

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The pepper sauce was very tasty, but the tripe was bit rubbery and uninteresting, and the potatoes were a little plain. All in all, it wasn't bad, just not a thrill.

We also ordered Anticuchos (Grilled Beef Heart with...potatoes... )

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The meat itself was very tasty, and not all that different in texture from a more common cut of beef. It had a nice slightly sweet marinade on it, but it got even better with some of their hot sauce, which had an excellent chile flavor, and a slowly building heat. These roasted potatoes were excellent too.

The man who took our order seemed to be the owner, and he was super-friendly and helpful. As it turns out, we were there about an hour too early, on the first saturday of each month they do an all-you can eat buffet, which looked really great when we poked out heads in again later. We didn't notice a price, but the place was crowded, so I'll bet it's a bargain. We're going to try to remember this at the beginning of May or June.

All these carbs gave us the energy to get up and walk a few feet down the block to Sabor Latino where we promptly indulged in....more carbs. But first, another fruit drink. I think this one is Guava. It just so happens it's not an incredibly beautiful color, but tasted good.

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Their fresh Lemonade is good too, maybe a touch too sweet, but very refreshing.

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Sabor Latino serves dishes from Mexico, Ecuador, Columbia, Cuba, and maybe a few more countries. And we lost track of which recipes were from where, but it was all good, so we'll just ignore borders for now.

Empanadas were seasoned ground beef in a nice crispy corn shell.

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Arepas came a few different ways, we got the corn cakes with fried pork ribs.

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The arepas themselves had a slight cheesey taste, and were good supports for the very tasty pork. We decided it would have been nice to have some sort of sauce with this, like a mojo or chimichurri, as the pork had great flavor and crunch, but was a touch dry.

The Pernil Asado appeared under two different country's sections, I'm not sure which one we got, but wherever it was from it was delicious.

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The pork was extremely tender and juicy, the onions added a great flavor as well. The sweet plantains were an excellent accompaniment, as were the rice and beans.

Sabor Latino has a very deep menu, we could have spent all day just in there and covered a lot of culinary territory. I've been there before, and enjoyed the food then too, so I can say they have lots of good items on the menu, and plenty more to explore.

Finally fortified, we worked up the energy to walk about 100 yards back to Little Saigon.

This was almost a tragedy: we'd all been looking forward to this stop on the tour, but it was a few minutes after 5pm, and the place was dark and deserted, no signs of life, despite the listed opening time of 4pm on the door. Just as we were about to give up, the owners showed up, full of apologies for making us wait. They'd been held-up at a family affair, but got up to speed at an amazingly quick rate. And we're glad we didn't walk away, as this was a fitting capper on the day of eating.

Of course, we needed some Spring Rolls which are distinguished by an unusually crunchy, almost bubbly texture to the wrappers, without being at all greasy.

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Not only that, but the filling is more tasty than most as well, with a generous portion of ground pork, as well as mushrooms and cellophane noodles.

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We followed that with the Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Beef Soup from Hue)

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I'm not sure what could have been wrong with the bowl that Flav referenced upthread, but this one was truly outstanding, with a very complex broth, tender thin-sliced beef, and slippery rice noodles.

Equally good, in a more subtle way, was the Roast Pork Wonton Noodle Soup

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That perfectly clear, yet hearty, broth is indicative of the care they put into their stocks here, and transforms a simple soup like this into something especially delicious.

Beef Cubes in Garlic Sauce is not an offering I see at most Vietnamese restaurants, but it might be worth coming to Little Saigon just for this.

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Meltingly tender cubes of Filet Mignon are cooked with a subtly garlicky sauce and a few peppers and onions. It's pretty simple, but succeeds on the quality of the beef, and the flavorful sauce.

There's lots more good stuff on this menu, but we had reached our limit, and will have to consign further explorations to future visits. But first, a jackfruit shake:

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and a classic Vietnamse Iced Coffee with condensed milk.

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Our original intent was to make it to Pojangmacha, The Irish Coffee Shop, Pica's and a few other landmarks of Upper Darby, but when confronting the limits of our appetites, we realized we couldn't do those places justice, so, we'll have to come back and fill-in the gaps on another trip.

Even barely scratching the surface as we did, one has to marvel at the diversity of food available in this very compact area. I can't think of any blocks in any cities I've been to that offer Korean, Vietnamese, Mexican, Peruvian, Chinese and pan-SouthAmerican all within a few hundred yards of each other. And again, we kept ourselves well-fed and amused for over 7 hours without crossing a street. It's an amazing neighborhood.

For you Center City dwellers, as well as those of you in other areas, it's an easy ride on the El, or any of several buses. Just about everything terminates at the 69th street terminal. All of these places are located about three blocks west of the terminal. Cross over to the south side of Market street, then go a few blocks west to Garret Road or Terminal Square, turn left, and you're there.

It's worth a visit, even for just one of these places, don't feel obliged to hit ALL of them. Although, there are worse ways to spend a saturday....


Edited by philadining (log)

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I am full just looking at those pictures, gorgeous as they are. Great post. :biggrin:

Evan

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wow, nice job guys.

but you didn't get the national dish of peru--beef stir-fried with french fries!

that yook gae jang looks great. i love that dish.

the bun bo hue looks good too. i didn't know that about the blood in there, ff--i'll ask for it next time maybe.

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I'm glad that you had a nice day out, phila.

Taste is both relative and a matter of perception. I prefer what I've had elsewhere and what I make myself to the bun bo hue that I had at Little Saigon.

As I stated before, the broth tasted to me like the product of an instant base, many of which are available and used commercially. Part of my disappointment was in the apparent lack of complexity in the broth; whereas traditional phó broth is purely beef, bun bo hue's (despite translating to Hue Beef Noodle) broth can be made with a combination of beef, pork, and chicken. Northern purists might insist on beef alone; southerners and those towards Cambodia are more lenient and catholic in their use of meats.

Other things were missing as well: no blood tablets, no banana blossoms, nothing offered in the way of the "hedgerow" besides cilantro, and that after asking; usually, bun bo hue comes with sprouts, and one or more of mint, watercress, thai basil, culantro, and hot peppers. Edward admitted when I talked to him that most Americans are unfamiliar with the nuances and that he purposefully omits some of the touches for their palate.

If you'd like, I'll post the recipe that I use at home.

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There are several places in and around Washington Avenue that serve a decent bowl, You do, though, have to insist on the whole-hog approach at most restaurants. Additionally, I've had the Cambodian version (South Vietnam was part of Cambodia before the French showed up; they lay claim to this dish as well.) up at Phnom Penh (and other places) on Old York Rd. around Rockland, definitely DDD territory.

EDIT: Oh, and before I forget it, if you look carefully along the latino aisle in certain supermarkets, you can find Inca and other "champagne colas." My younger son, who is currently in Japan, is absolutely addicted to it. Try a Giant, or, of course, one of the various Cousin's stores if you're up that way.


Edited by Furious Flav-or (log)

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wow, nice job guys. 

but you didn't get the national dish of peru--beef stir-fried with french fries!

that yook gae jang looks great.  i love that dish.

the bun bo hue looks good too.  i didn't know that about the blood in there, ff--i'll ask for it next time maybe.

Funny, I was under the impression that it was guinea pig: http://gosouthamerica.about.com/od/cuisine/a/cuy.htm

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wow, nice job guys. 

but you didn't get the national dish of peru--beef stir-fried with french fries!

Funny, I was under the impression that it was guinea pig: http://gosouthamerica.about.com/od/cuisine/a/cuy.htm

ha! ok maybe it's not the national dish--googling turns up that ceviche is considered peru's national dish. but lomo saltado turns up in every peruvian recipe guide i can find, and unlike cuy is guaranteed to be on the menu at any peruvian restaurant you go to...

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Other things were missing as well: no blood tablets, no banana blossoms, nothing offered in the way of the "hedgerow" besides cilantro, and that after asking; usually, bun bo hue comes with sprouts, and one or more of mint, watercress, thai basil, culantro, and hot peppers. Edward admitted when I talked to him that most Americans are unfamiliar with the nuances and that he purposefully omits some of the touches for their palate.

If you'd like, I'll post the recipe that I use at home.

you have to ask? pm me if you think it'll be considered off-topic for the forum.

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Other things were missing as well: no blood tablets, no banana blossoms, nothing offered in the way of the "hedgerow" besides cilantro, and that after asking; usually, bun bo hue comes with sprouts, and one or more of mint, watercress, thai basil, culantro, and hot peppers. Edward admitted when I talked to him that most Americans are unfamiliar with the nuances and that he purposefully omits some of the touches for their palate.

If you'd like, I'll post the recipe that I use at home.

you have to ask? pm me if you think it'll be considered off-topic for the forum.

NP. All they can do is yell at me and ask where to get the ingredients, right?

Ingredients first:

Stock:

½ to 1 lb. London broil or eye round steak

½ to 1 lb. Lean pork loin

4 Pork trotters approx 3 lbs.

1 lb. Chicken back bones

5 Stalks lemon grass

1 Large or 4 small yellow onion/s

5 Cloves garlic

20 Cups water

2 Tablespoons dried roasted onion. (Sold at most Asian markets)

2 Tablespoons rotten fish sauce (nuoc mam)

1 Tablespoon shrimp paste (ruoc)

4 teaspoons sambal oelek

¼ Teaspoon black pepper

1½ Teaspoons salt

3 to 4 pieces "rock" sugar

1 teaspoon MSG

Vegetables:

1 banana blossom, sliced thin, soaked, rinsed, drained (if canned just rinse and slice)

¼ to ½ lb. Asian water spinach or watercress if unavailable, leaves only

Holy basil, culantro, quartered lime wedges, thinly sliced small onion, sliced hot peppers, bean sprouts

Noodles:

Vermicelli rice noodles

8 to 10 cups water

Process:

1. Place pork trotters in water to cover. Parboil until a healthy head of "scum" has cooked out and floats on water's surface.

2. Remove trotters, rinse under cold running water, reserve. Clean stockpot out thoroughly and return to stove. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for chicken bones.

3. Caramelize onions over open flame for 10 to 15 minutes, less if smaller onions. Remove worst of scorched, black carbonized onion material and slice off ends. Reserve.

4. Prepare pork loin and London broil/eye round for pot. Take care to remove fat and connective tissues from pork.

5. Prepare lemon grass by removing rough, discolored outer layers and trimming at ends. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizing hammer, slightly crush the cleaned stalks, cut in half, and tie into a bundle.

6. Place the rice vermicelli for the meal in cold water to soak for at least one hour at this point.

7. Place 20 cups COLD water in stockpot. Add trotters and place on medium high flame. Add beef and pork loin, as well as lemon grass, caramelized onions, and remainder of stock ingredients as stock picks up to a nicely rolling low boil. Reduce to medium flame and cook beef and pork until sufficiently tender.

8. Remove London broil sections, slice thinly (1/8 to 1/16") across grain, place into cold water for a minute to halt cooking action, bag, and refrigerate. Take care not to overcook beef past medium. Repeat for pork, making sure that pork is cooked well enough to avoid issues.

9. Allow stock to continue cooking for at least another half hour.

10. Begin vegetable prep work on banana blossom, basil, culantro, and watercress.

11. Strain stock into second pot and bring to rolling boil. Bring 8 to 10 cips water to boil for rice vermicelli. Reserve trotters, taking care to allow room in second pot for trotters. Return trotters to second pot.

12. Place vermicell in water for eight to ten minutes, removing and rinsing under cold water in a colander for a minute. Place now-cooled rice vermicelli in bottom of soup bowls. Blanch bean sprouts for 30 seconds in boiling stock. Take great care as stock is now incredibly hot. Place sprouts over noodles, cover with a handful each of reserved pork and beef per bowl, and place trotter in as well.

13. Cover contents of soup bowl with rapidly boiling stock. Garnish with assorted vegetables, and feel free to adjust taste with hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, rotten fish sauce, etc.

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Flav, thanks for posting that recipe, it certainly looks good! And of course you're right about people having different preferences and expectations.

I'm not arguing that Little Saigon's Hue soup is especially authentic, I wouldn't know, and don't much care, I'm just saying that it's an extremely tasty soup. And I'm still very skeptical about the implication that it could be derived from a commercial soup base. As I mentioned upthread, I've had this quite a lot, and never tasted even a hint of that, and I know the pride that they take in all the soups there. So, while I wasn't in the kitchen, and can't prove how it's made, I'd be shocked if it wasn't based on a homemade stock.

And in the end, if they do make it with some commercial product, well, more power to them, they're getting a great result.

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