Pho 79 – Albuquerque, New Mexico

When the temperature dips and the Land of Enchantment’s ubiquitous winds howl with a vengeance, savvy diners revel in the knowledge that they can luxuriate in the familiar warmth of a steaming, swimming pool-sized bowl of aromatically alluring pho. Few things in life are as comfortable as snuggling up with a simple and no frills bowl showcasing a rich, spicy,…

Saigon Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

According to some stereotypes, when you eat Chinese food, you’ll be hungry an hour later.    That stereotype is known as the “Chinese food paradox.”   One of the culprits behind that stereotype is rice, a very starchy food which metabolizes quickly.  Others blame monosodium glutamate (MSG) when hunger creeps in shortly after finishing a meal. Italian food is also shrouded…

Bamboo by Kulantro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hawaiian pizza, black licorice, blue cheese, anchovies, candy corn, cilantro…these are among the pantheon of foods Readers Digest says everyone either loves or hates. And by “everyone,” Readers Digest includes such culinary glitterati as Julia Child who expressed her loathing for for cilantro in a 2002 interview with Larry King.   The towering chef  proclaimed she detested cilantro, saying it…

SAIGON CITY – Albuquerque, New Mexico

My brother in blogging Ryan Cook describes his first day in Vietnam: “So, my first stop in Vietnam was the capital, Hanoi. My honest first impressions… what the hell have I let myself in for. Seriously…The roads are chaos! The ride from the airport to the hostel was basically 40 minutes of holding my breath and cringing. How someone wasn’t…

Cafe Nom Nom – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Nom nom.” It sounds innocent enough. Parents–yes, including parents of four-legged fur babies–utter it in baby talk intonations to get our children to eat something, especially when that something is “good for them” but doesn’t actually look or taste good. Nom nom was, of course, the favorite expression of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster as he ravenously devoured a plate or…

Pho Bar – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

“In food, as in death, we feel the essential brotherhood of man” – Vietnamese Proverb Western sensitivities cause even those among us who consider ourselves gustatorily open-minded to utter an “ick” or two at what is culinarily acceptable–even considered delicious–in other cultures. Some of us would recoil in disgust at the notion of eating grilled dog, roasted cat, grain-fed mice,…

Lime Vietnamese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Kevin: What am I looking at here? Donna: It’s pho. Kevin: It’s what? Donna: Pho. Kevin: Well pho looks like a clogged sink. What are those chunks floating around in there? What is that? Donna: It’s chicken. You love chicken. Kevin: Do they make this outside? What is this? <pulls up a single basil leaf> Donna: Seasoning. Just try it.…

CAFE DA LAT – Albuquerque, New Mexico

While the term “Vietnamese cuisine” is broad and overarching, any attempt to pigeonhole this very diverse and eclectic culinary culture is a failure to consider its complexities and nuances.  Even when culinary taxonomists compartmentalize Vietnamese cuisine regionally into “Northern,” “Southern” or “Central,” these wide-ranging generalizations fail to take into account the variations–often influenced by socioeconomic factors–that occur not only between…

Bamboo Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

In his 30s, curmudgeonly London food critic Jay Rayner who’s been called the “enfant terrible (literally “terrifying child) of the gastronomic scene,” came to the realization that he hated hangovers more than he hated being drunk.  During a visit to a Vietnamese restaurant in London, he achieved an epiphany:  “huge steaming bowls of a deeply aromatic beef broth called pho,…