Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vietnamese + Anthony Bourdain

Last night, Nate and I went out for a Vietnamese meal and saw one of our favorite chefs and authors, Anthony Bourdain--both great experiences!

Let's start with the food. We wanted to try Noodle House on 35th and National Avenue, but it turns out it's no longer in business (or maybe it moved? I didn't see a sign, though). So we tried Phan's Garden on 19th and National. It was fantastic. I can't wait to go back and try something else on the extensive menu.

We started with summer rolls, which are served cold, and they came with pork, shrimp, herbs and "bĂșn" (rice vermicelli) in rice paper with a really good peanut sauce. We also had some Vietnamese beer--33 and Saigon. I'm pretty sure what Nate had was banh xeo, which looked like an omelette with shrimp and herbs. I had something I've been wanting to try for a long time: pho, which is a soup made with rice noodles, beef broth, beef and lots of great seasoning and spices. It comes with lots of garnishes you can add as you want, such as cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, jalapenos and lime. And of course, there was Sriracha sauce to add to it. I ordered the large bowl, and I didn't realize just how large it would be. Nate and I both ate a lot of it, and we probably brought three or four servings home.

Afterward, we went to see Bourdain at the Riverside. We had a great time. The theater was packed, and we lucked out with pretty good seats--first row of the balcony, the first seats in the row. (My pictures didn't turn out too well--I had to turn the flash off and he kept moving so it's blurry.) He was on stage for about two hours.

The first hour, he talked about other chefs (those he respects and those he really doesn't like), food and traveling. The second hour, he took questions from the audience. Some of the questions were good, but other people were obviously very drunk and some just told pointless stories. I think I would have preferred to have him just talk for the entire time. But, I'm definitely glad we went.


  1. At first I thought you meant you met Anthony Bourdain at the Vietnamese restaurant. :)

  2. Ha! That's what I thought too, actually. I've been on a Bourdain kick lately, watching old episodes on netflix - have you seen the one where he goes to Quebec and eats raw seal? It's horrific but definitely interesting!

  3. Well, it would have been cool if he had been at the Vietnamese restaurant! I saw that episode, too, Becky. While I love Bourdain and I love his show, there are many times that I need to shield my eyes and plug my ears. I can't take too much gross stuff!

  4. Seeing Bourdain sounds really interesting. I wonder what chefs he doesn't like??

    I love Pho, and tend to pile on allll the extras. Too bad La Crosse has bunk for Vietnamese restaurants, but Chinese and Mexican are everywhere. Variety people?

    Also wanted to say, I like sriracha too. I like making my own spicy tuna rolls at home now. Just chop up a raw tuna steak, add a bit of mayo and lots of sriracha and then roll your sushi. Yum. I could just eat the mayo/tuna/spicy sauce right out of the bowl sometimes!