Thursday, August 13, 2009

Banh Mi So 1

I was going to write a wickedly funny, witty, and prize-worthy post about something doing with wine today, but I have changed my mind. This is simply because my wife and I had one of the better meals we have had in a long time last night, and I want to tell you about it. As we pulled up in front of Banh Mi So, the first thing we noticed was the red neon sign proclaiming to have "The Best Spring Rolls in St. Louis". The gauntlet had been thrown down...were they really the best? Time would tell.
The interior of the restaurant is small, simple, and comfortable. It's the sort of place that you feel like you have been to before. There are only three employees that we saw- Mr. and Mrs. Truong (she cooks, he waits tables), and a kid that refills waters, runs food, etc. They are extremely friendly, and the pace of the restaurant is casual at best. Mr. Truong (I think his name is Thomas so that's what I will call him) was very helpful in explaining the menu, and overlooked my horrible pronunciation of the Vietnamese names of the food.
The first thing we got was an order of the Gui Cuon- these are the famous spring rolls. We chose the chicken ones. Simply put, these were the best I have ever had. There was just the right amount of meat, noodles, spice, and fresh basil, served with a slightly spicy fish sauce that slowly and comfortably builds heat over the course of the meal. Each bite of the spring rolls results in a fresh snap of flavor that I will soon be thinking about over every lunch hour.
The next course, which was my favorite, was the Banh Xeo. This is a fried crepe, folded in half, and filled with pork, shrimp, sprouts, and spice. It is served with a mound of fresh lettuce and basil- the process being that you cut off part of the crispy crepe, wrap the greens around it, and dip it in the fish sauce. The combination of textures, spices, and the fresh greens meeting the fried carbs was amazing. If I dream about the spring rolls during the day, I will pine after this piece of magnificence at night.
Our main courses came next. I got the Banh Mi Dac Biet, a sandwich with pork, pate, vietnamese ham, carrots, daikon, and jalapenos. One note- I got the "double meat", and it still wansn't huge (this isn't a "$5 footlong"). It tasted fresh and bursted with flavor. In the world, there is one major division amongst sandwich eaters- soft bread lovers, and crusty bread lovers. I find myself firmly in the soft bread camp. My only complaint about anything in the meal was that the bread was a bit too crusty for my liking. A firm soak in fish sauce took care of that, though. My wife got the Bun Bo Nuong Cha Gio, which was thin slices of charbroiled beef and cut up egg rolls, over thin noodles and fresh greens. Thomas instructed her to put "three spoons" of fish sauce in the dish to get the consistency right. Once again, it was a hit.
Dessert consisted of a sticky rice with corn and coconut milk- it had just enough sweetness to cure the need for such a dish. It doesn't look good, but trust me- once you tuck a spoon into it, you will finish the entire dessert. The "Vietnamese Iced Coffee" was prepared with precision (and loads of condensed milk), and complimented the dessert perfectly.
All in we got two apps, two entrees, two cokes, one dessert, and one coffee for $37 before tip. Not bad, eating like kings for less than $50!
I'm not going to tell you where this place is, because I don't want to have to stand behind you in line to get in. Look it up, find it, go there, and enjoy!

No wine suggestions today- I'm on vacation.


1 comment:

  1. Just a side note, this magical place can potentially take a long time to get your food served. (perfection takes time, it's worth the wait!) However, they will let you call ahead and either do take out, or if you would like to soak in the ambiance, have your dinner ready on the table when you arrive. Lovely people and great food!