Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bun Rieu

We stopped by our regular Vietnamese haunt, #1 Pho, for the purpose of having a sinus clearing meal. Bug was having major issues with congestion likely due to allergies, and I was on the verge of delirium tremens from not having had their summer rolls and pho in ~3 weeks.

No1 Pho Pork Summer Rolls

Their chargrilled pork summer rolls are the absolute best appetizer/finger food I have ever eaten. I am not a fan of pork, but I could eat 10 of these myself.

The pork is sliced thin, marinated, then char-grilled. Crisp lettuce cools the warm meat. Perfectly cooked vermicelli and rice wraps balance the saltiness of the pork and the salty-sweet piquant nuoc cham.

These rapturous rolls are an excellent marriage of salty, spicy, tart, sweet, crunchy, warm, cool, fresh, and smoky!

No1 Pho Bun Rieu
Plain Jane

Instead of ordering my usual pho tai, hold the onions and cilantro, I opted for bun rieu -- tomato crab soup.

I have never been to Vietnam to know how close this is to the real ting. I really doubt pig's blood is used here, and I've never asked. I suppose all that matters is that it tastes good.

Go ahead, point that accusing finger at me saying I'm a hypocrite with regard to authenticity. I'm Japanese so I can be a little bitter about restaurants touting authentic Japanese cuisine and serving beef broccoli, egg rolls, hot and sour soup, and cap the meal with a fortune cookie. Prideful? Maybe.

I have no problem with people experimenting with food, mixing several cultures, or calling it fusion. Don't pass it off as authentic (I'm looking at you, restaurants)!

No1 Pho Bun Rieu Fixings
All dressed up and ready to go...into mah belly

The bun rieu served here has an oily sheen, but doesn't (lip)smack of grease. The soup is nothing like pho, and has an obvious tart tomato component. Pieces of tomato can be fished up along with an abundance of small seasoned meatballs that break apart easily. Also, the noodles are round instead of the flat sticks associated with pho.

A side platter of bean sprouts, lettuce, jalapeno peppers, and a wedge of lime is brought with the soup. Lettuce in hot soup seems weird; however, the lettuce served isn't your wimpy buttery lettuce, but a hearty, crunchy variety.

Bun rieu is a wonderful soup, but my heart is still with pho tai. Sadly, I no longer press the issue about getting the meat raw in a platter (to manage meat doneness to my preference) for fear that my topmost important request of no onions and cilantro be overlooked. Not ordering pho is a very serious decision. Bun thit nuong cha gio (cold vermicelli with char-grilled pork, spring roll, Thai basil, mint, bean sprouts, lettuce, chopped nuts, and nuoc cham) is another favorite.

I should take back the comment about fortune cookies, since it has been ruled in a court of law that someone of Japanese descent invented it.

- Cassaendra

#1 Pho
3120 Superior Ave
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

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