If you think my last post’s photos were bad, I’m REALLY sorry about this one.
I went to Le Steak de Saigon for the second time last night. I enjoyed it the first time and I was well-prepped to order what I thought was the perfect combo this week. I kept the mashed potatoes in my order ‘cause I loved their creamy mash last time. I changed the sauce to a blue cheese sauce, which was probably the best decision I made last night. I also changed my order to “rare” because while last time was good, I just wanted my steak less cooked. That was the second-best decision I made last night. The steak was 200K and comes with a nice, big salad as well. I feel like I was eating butterhead lettuce…which I usually hate, but it was tolerable with the dressing they used. You also get a basket of bread for every 4 people.
Ted was awesome and bought two bottles of wine for us to accompany the meal and I think I’m almost at the point where I’ll feel the need to always pair my steak with an appropriate red wine in the future. I didn’t want to look like a proper dork, so I took this picture rather hastily. I can’t ‘not like’ this place. I’m definitely up for coming back.
Sorry my phone doesn’t do this dish much justice. I started to go out on my own and have some good food.
I went to “My Place” at 195 Dien Bien Phu street. It’s in an alley and is a nice, intimate French restaurant. I was a bit overwhelmed by the menu, not because it was big, but because I wanted to order everything on the menu.
The app I ordered to accompany this was a country pate with onion confit. the onion confit was sweet and (a bit) tart and was the perfect accompaniment to the pate. I got a Tiger draft to go along with the meal…which seemed blasphemous…but I didn’t want to shell out 150K/glass for red wine. I’m not much of a wine person. That’s slowly starting to change, though, here of all places.
The My Place Beef Stew was 240K ($12), the Country Pate was 90K($4.50), and the beer was 45K($2.25). With gratuity (calculated for you), it was about a 400Kvnd meal ($20). I felt very satisfyingly full and I would definitely go back to it again to try a different dish.
Almond Milk/Tea (this is for you, Marie!)
I’ve been drinking this a lot more ever since I drank that Almond+Hazelnut tea I talked about a few posts ago. Two heaping spoonfuls of almond powder, two rock sugar things, and hot water. :)
Will I ever make almond milk like I do soy milk? Nah.
I can make tea next to my bed
(which is actually a Red Oak futon I built in the Craftsman style)!
I love my Zojirushi water boiler—I can have hot water (195F) anytime, no need to wait for water to reboil ever again!
You can also see the can of almond powder I mentioned in the previous post. Unlike many other brands, it doesn’t contain any cornstarch and is really *just* super-finely-ground almonds. Sometimes I use this to make some tasty coconut almond agar.
Greenmax Almond Tea with Hazlenut
Every week when I go to work, my mom usually has random foodstuffs for me to bring back with me. She recently came back from visiting her family in NY and brought back with her various teas and “teas” among other things. This was one of the things she packed me.
Found on some other site, here are the supposed ingredients:
Natural Almond Powder, Hazelnut Powder, Yam, Fungus, Milk Powder, Corn Starch, Walnut, Lily, Crystal Sugar, Vanilla Powder, Almond Oil, Vitamins, Minerals
Upon opening the package, I could smell the pleasing aroma of powdered almonds (I specify “powdered” as I cannot recall whole almonds from grocery stores smelling like this). If you don’t know what it smells like, think almond extract but with its harshness rounded out—it doesn’t smell so……fake, for lack of a better word. If you’ve never gotten a whiff of some almond extract, think…maraschino cherries (the bright red kind)…or even amaretto (which is actually made with apricot pits).
Usually this type of drink has a barely noticeable grit to it (nuts aren’t exactly soluble) but the subtle richness of it from the starch and milk powder definitely improved the drink. The sweetness level was perfect (read: not too sweet). The other ingredients in this also made this drink more satisfying than my usual almond “milk” (2 heaping spoonfuls of almond powder + 2 rock sugars + hot water).
Drinking this was quite enjoyable, I may even get more for myself next time I go to an Asian grocer.
I have a friend who is about to end his 6-month stint in vegetarianism. So I told him that I’d try my hand at making him some vegan curry before he re-embraced the world of carnivorism (technically omnivorism…but you get the point). I reject the attitude that a lot of restaurants seem to have for vegan/vegetarian food: that it’s just a bunch of vegetables thrown into a hot pan, and then charging an overpriced dish for what it actually is (boring, underseasoned, lazy, etc.). I don’t know, I seem to get the feeling that restaurants think that vegetarians have super sensitive tongues that need coddling. NO. I also think meatless dishes should have the ability to make the most devoted of carnivores forget about the absence of meat, even if only for a second or two. That being said, it should be intense. Flavor-wise, of course.
So what did I throw in? Everything seen in the first photo, plus more.
- fried gluten balls
- fried tofu
- firm tofu
- sweet potato
- mushyrooms (4 kinds!)
- habaneros (only 2 are pictured….but I threw in 2 more much later)
- coconut milk
- and some other stuff…like a bunch of thai chili peppers, a generous helping of cayenne pepper, etc. yeah, the 4 habanero peppers weren’t good enough for me
I started off with a smaller pot but had to eventually switch over to a stockpot as I was running out of room with all the vegetables and soy/gluten products I was throwing in. How did I go about deciding what to throw in there? Well, I just thought of what would go well with curry. Plus HT and I had a discussion where we bounced off each other what would go well with curry a while back (the possibility of daikon joining the happy curry family was rejected during this conversation). In this dish, I was quite liberal with the mushrooms along with the fried gluten balls and tofu products as they had the ability to contribute to the “meatyness” of the dish along with their ability to complement curries (in fact, they absorb the flavors quite nicely).
I served this curry with rice and chrysanthemum greens—its herbaceous flavor (it was an acquired taste for me) does surprisingly well with curry. However, I did not throw this into the curry pot as it would render said greens into mush…and it would literally stink up the curry. Don’t ask me why but whenever I describe its flavor, I say “car tire air”—no, I did not use inhalants (let alone suck air out of tires) as a kid.
It was not that spicy, despite my efforts. I still got heartburn.
This dish has reaffirmed my belief that I don’t think mushrooms can be overcooked—they still retain their satisfying “al dente” texture despite spending hours in a hot pot of liquid. In fact, mushrooms were one of the first things I threw into the pot (after the onion and carrots)—I wanted to give the mushrooms plenty of time for them to mingle and purge their odd umami-laden mushyroom flavor into the curry and at the same time, absorb the curry’s flavor.
I’d say this dish was an overwhelming success. But it took a lot more work (and money) than its meat counterpart so I don’t plan on making it again anytime soon. Hey, I’m lazy.
Celano Ice Cream
In Vietnam, ice cream that I would consider good or even just ok is really hard to come by. I’ve tried New Zealand’s Natural or whatever, Lotteria, KFC, Burger King, and various other pint-size ice creams in the Co-op Mart. Today at work, I walked down to the 5th floor and got an ice cream bar after a coworker walked around eating one. It was pretty good. If the freezers here are even half as decent as freezers back home (or if the temperature here wasn’t burning hot), then the ice cream’s texture would’ve been even better. It costs 20KVND, but if you’re craving one, then I would suggest this as a start. Forget the damn New Zealand’s Natural. It sucks. Counting the days until I get back to my pineapple and coconut Haagen Dazs.