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Bruce Perry
Lives in Brookline, MA, United States
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Bruce Perry

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Yes, but how much is a metric buttload?
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(Probably also about what a mule could comfortably carry, aka, an ass-load)
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Vietnamese restaurants - part 8

This time a group from work went to Pho Hoa (1370 Dorchester Ave).  We all had variations on Hu Tieu, a kind of seafood soup.  One type had egg noodles and clear noodles.  Another (mine) had just the clear noodles.  A third was pork-free.  The first two also came with small slices of ham.  We were also provided with a large platter of bean sprouts (and maybe some shredded cabbage?) to put in the soup.

Ultimately, though my soup was good, I regretted my choice as the egg noodle+clear noodle variant also came with a deep-fried shrimp disk that mine lacked.  John assured me that the shrimp disk isn't all that special, but how will I ever know for sure?  How can one truly ever know anything?  I'm clearly going to have to go back so I can try the deep-fried shrimp disk.
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Vietnamese restaurants, parts 6 and 7

For part 6, we returned to Saigon Seafood for salt and pepper lobster and salted fish fried rice.  The salt and pepper lobster, according to John is more a Chinese than Vietnamese disk.  It consists of lobster cut into pieces that are breaded and fried (deep fried?).  It's tasty, but as is typical with lobster, you have to do some work to extract the meaty bits.  I was initially dubious about the salted fish fried rice (not a huge fan of salted fish), but it was very good. The fish was shredded into very fine pieces which serve to add a nice flavor to the fried rice without being excessively fishy.

For part 7, we went to Lucky Cafe, an Asian barbecue place at 1107 Dorchester Ave. I think they have more typical Chinese offerings, but we got the rice combo that comes with 2 kinds of meat. It was $8 and had enough rice and meat for two meals.  I had chicken and duck; John got chicken and pork. John is a big fan of the ginger sauce they put on the chicken.  I liked it, but I won't rave about it the way John does. BTW, this restaurant is cash only.
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Boston skyline from Spectacle island
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Vietnamese restaurants - part 4

This time we went to Pho 2000 (198 Adams St) for Vietnamese crepes. These are savory crepes made of rice batter with a filling of bean spouts, little shrimp, thin pork strips, and some other stuff I'm forgetting. They're cooked so that the shell is crispy. These are an old favorite of mine; I was introduced to them by a co-worker at Cigna <mumble> years ago. Vi Do's family ran a restaurant and our department would go there for lunch sometimes. I'll be eternally grateful to Vi for introducing me to the Vietnamese crepe, but he neglected to show us the proper way to eat them.

John was happy, as always, to set me straight on how to properly eat Vietnamese food. The crepe should come with a pile of lettuce leaves, carrot and cucumber slices, and a few other leafy things. You take a lettuce leaf, break off a piece of the crepe, add carrot/cucumber/leafy stuff as desired, and then dip the whole package into the fish sauce*. Repeat until crepe is gone or the fragments are too inconvenient to pick up in this way. Can be somewhat messy. John thought the crepes at Pho 2000 were more crunchy than his mom's and that (obviously) his mom's version was better. There's no counter to that criticism, but I will say that the crepes were delicious all the same.

This time we decided to try one of the desserts. John suggested one that turned out to be a goblet with layers of red beans, mung bean paste, green jello. Coconut milk was poured over all this and there was a big pile of crushed ice on top. Step one is to mix the crushed ice into all the other ingredients. I'm generally dubious about desserts containing beans, but this one was actually pretty good. I'm not sure why, but it's much better when the crushed ice is mixed in.

*to which you can optionally add chili sauce.
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Vietnamese Food, part 3

Got take out food from Ba Le (1052 Dorchester Ave Dorchester) on Friday with John, my Vietnamese coworker. The dish of the day was bahn cuon. This is ground beef wrapped up in wide rice noodles, topped with sprouts, fish sauce and chunks of Vietnamese cold cuts.

The woman preparing this dish for us at the take-out counter used a small Chinese-style cleaver. While she cut up the beef rice noodles and the cold cuts, she was frequently NOT looking at her hands. I wanted to say something, but figured it would be better not to distract the person with the rapidly moving chopper. 

John eats this by putting the cold cut chunks in the lid of the take-out tray. He then pours the fish sauce over the what's in the bottom of take-out container. He recommends eating from the bottom of heap of food to make sure each bite gets an adequate amount of sauce.
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Vietnamese restaurants, part 2.5

Back to Ahn Hong with John and another coworker for 7 kinds of beef.  This time, John pointed out a plant/herb on side platter of vegetables used to fill out the spring rolls.  There were just a few stalks of it on the plate.  On the first visit, I think I'd missed this stuff entirely because there's at least 5 times as much basil on the plate.  John says some Vietnamese people like it and other don't. The herb is described as tasting like fish.  He didn't know an English name for it.

Anyhow, the herb is called Fish Mint in English.  I figured this out by googling "Vietnamese plant that tastes like fish".  I can see why the flavor is described that way, but I don't really taste it as fishy.  I'd call it slightly minty/slightly soapy.  It's probably just as well I'm not in charge of marketing it since even "fishy" sounds more appetizing.  It's not my favorite herb, but I don't dislike it.
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Huh. Wonder if it's got a lot of omega-3?
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Vietnamese restaurants, part 9

This time we went to Pho Le (1356 Dorchester Ave) for pho*.  It's not John's favorite soup which is why we left it till this late in the series.  Also, it's cold now, so soup works well.  We both got the pho with beef slices, beef tendon, and tripe.  All were thinly sliced and delicious.

John tells me there are two main ways of spicing up your pho.  Both start with putting basil leaves in the soup.  Basil leaves and bean sprouts come on a plate separate from the soup.  The basil, in John's view, is not optional.  Some put a mix of Hoisin sauce and chili/Sriracha sauce in a side dish to be used for dipping the meat slices.  Others put the mix directly in the soup.  John is a dipper.  He says the sauce gets in the way of appreciating the properly-made broth that is the key to a good pho.  I tried dipping as well.  John's point is well taken.  The broth could easily be overwhelmed by strong condiments.  The other sign of a good pho is noodles that are not overcooked.  If they're falling apart when you pick them up, they've been cooked too long.

Next episode, congee with tripe?

*pronounced fa (but there's also a tone to do there)  If you say foe/faux, you've just said the Vietnamese word for city.
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Vietnamese restaurants, part 5.5

Yesterday, John and I and two coworkers went to My Sister's Crawfish, which I described in part 5 of this series. This time, I had the Bun Rieu soup. I had previously described this as "crab stock, crab meatballs, noodles, etc." One of the etc bits was fish meatballs, another was blocks of what initially appeared to be dark red jello. John was able to identify them as blood pudding. I've never been a fan of blood pudding, but I have to admit it's more the idea than the taste. Not wishing to be shamed in front of the coworkers, I summoned up my courage and tried it(finished it too). Kind of bland and flavorless actually (but still made out of blood!). Overall though, the Bun Rieu was was good and really hit the spot on a cold day.

My favorite here remains the Bun Mam. The combination of seafood plus pork slices gives the soup a wonderful flavor I haven't encountered before.

One of the coworkers confessed to getting her Vietnamese soups with a side of peanut sauce (the kind used on fresh rolls). John was horrified (not actually offended though) and thought this was a most improper use of peanut sauce. It seems he does not believe in crossing the culinary beams. The coworker comes from a country where peanuts or peanut sauce are used very commonly and couldn't see the objection.
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Vietnamese restaurants, part 5

The weather has turned colder, so John and I decided that soup was the way to go on Monday.

We went to My Sister's Crawfish (272 Adams St, Dorchester). I had Bun Mam, fish stock soup with noodles, shrimp, pieces of fish, calamari bits, and slices of pork. John had Bun Rieu, crab stock, crab meatballs, noodles etc. These are the two dishes that John regards as the specialties of this place. He doesn't think the crawfish here are anything special. Bun, by the way, is the name of the type of thin rice noodles used in the soup. Along with the soup, we were given a plate heaped with with shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, mint leaves, and more. John shoveled supplementary veggies into his bowl and I did likewise. John is of the opinion that the added veggies are a vital component of the soup. I think I could have enjoyed the soup without them, but they were certainly good in the soup. I'm not sure I've had a soup before where uncooked vegetables were a component. The pork slices in the Bon Mam give the soup an added richness that is quite special.

I'm going to have to go back and try the Bun Rieu at some point.
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+another SOB I made a conscious decision not to care about Sojourner a long time ago
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Fun with the TSA - on my return from San Francisco I was wearing my knee braces. Apparently neoprene knee braces (with no metal components) are too much for their new high tech scanners and gain one a pat down. My peeve is not that I get a pat down. What annoys me is that I could have taken then off and saved everyone time - if they had bothered to mention it somewhere.

BTW, I am aware that the TSA has, after a number of episodes of dimwitted dumf*ckery on their part, become sensitive to the notion that people might not want to remove medical devices in a security line. That's certainly an improvement over their prior behavior.

Lesson learned - put the knee braces in the bin to be scanned
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Brookline, MA, United States
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The mind is not a vessel to be filled; it is a fire to be lit.
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Made a 3 gigapixel panorama of Machu Picchu (see it here->http://gigapan.org/gigapans/1758/). Visited the Pantanal and saw jaguars in the wild.
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