Artistic plating, scintillating flavors, inspired creativity and ingenuity are hallmarks of Vietnamese cuisine which has taken the Duke City by storm. Jim Millington, a long-time friend of this blog, contends that “there must be a bad Vietnamese restaurant somewhere on this wide earth but I have never found it.” Frankly, I haven’t either with most Vietnamese restaurants ranging from very good to outstanding. Here are my very favorite Vietnamese dishes–not counting soups which are represented on my list of favorite soups. By clicking on the name of the restaurant for which you wish to know my opinion, you will be magically transported directly to my review of that restaurant.
|Entree||Restaurant||City||What Makes It Special|
|Catfish in Ginger Sauce||Cafe Dalat
||Albuquerque||A whole catfish which is perfectly prepared–crispy on the outside and lovingly tender on the inside–topped with a slightly piquant but mostly sweet ginger sauce the color of Day-Glo. It’s my Lenten seafood favorite.
|Spicy Beef Ribs||May Hong||Albuquerque||Beef ribs in a spicy sauce of ginger, scallions, pineapple, chili flakes and garlic will tantalize your taste buds with a flavor profile that is savory, sweet, piquant and tangy. It’s got it all!|
| Banh Mi
||Albuquerque||This Vietnamese po’ boy on French baguettes is one of the best sandwiches in the Duke City of any genre. Other Vietnamese restaurants also serve banh mi, but May Hong does it best.|
| Egg Rolls
||SaiGon||Albuquerque||The very best egg rolls in New Mexico, by far! They explode with the flavor of perfectly seasoned ground pork and vegetables encased in a crispy, deep-fried yellow wrapper. These are a must have! Two orders are advisable.|
|Grilled Onion Beef||Saigon||Albuquerque||Cigar-shaped “beef rolls” encasing slightly caramelized grilled white onions then topped with ground peanuts and diced green onion make this a carnivore’s delight and one of the very best beef-based entrees anywhere.|
|Seven Courses of Beef
||Pho #1||Albuquerque||Beef: It’s what’s for dinner…and Pho #1 serves it seven unique and delicious ways. This is adventure eating with all the deliciousness of a gourmet meal. Seven will become your lucky number if you order this meal.|
|Stuffed Grape Leaves||Viet Taste||Albuquerque||If you thought stuffed grape leaves were exclusive to Greek dining, you’ll love Viet Taste’s version which features anise, lemon grass and cinnamon blessed grilled beef encased is a small, tightly wrapped, cigar shaped grape leaf and served with Nuoc Mam, the incomparable fish sauce.
|Fried Flour Cake with Egg and Green Onion||Kim Long Asian Cuisine
||Albuquerque||This is actually a Chinese dish, but Kim Long prepares it with Vietnamese touches and flair. The recipe for this treasured family dish is several generations old. As they say “practice makes perfect” and this is the perfect starter.
|Spring Rolls||Kim Long Asian Cuisine||Albuquerque||Made the Vietnamese way with fresh, nearly translucent rice paper instead of Chinese egg roll wrappers, these rolls are engorged with Vietnamese Pork, Shrimp, Lettuce, Basil and Vermicelli Noodles. Don’t miss these!|
|Special clay pot rice with grilled chicken||SaiGon|| Rio Rancho
||As you eat, the clay pot remains piping hot throughout your meal which allows the slightly smoky sauce of chicken simmered and slightly caramelized on the pot to waft invitingly for the duration of your meal.|