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Serendipity and vietnamese-food adventures
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saxifrage00
I just ran into hundun at the pho restaurant across the street from my place. I was just finishing up and ready to pay the bill when he spotted me. He ordered and we had a good long chat that ranged all over. He's an interesting guy and it was good to talk with him.

Also, Vancouver is so damned small. It both disturbs and delights me.



I tried three new foods today. I ordered their pho with rare steak, flank, tendon, and tripe because I was tired of always ordering the familiar steak and meatballs version. Also, baywolf had tried their house special pho a while back and said that the tripe was kinda interesting, so I thought it was time I'd waded into those waters.

So, tripe is interesting and I think I like it. It's white, chewy-crunchy, and tastes vaguely meaty. Anyone fond of squid would be familiar with the "chewy-crunchy" texture and know what I mean. If you're someone who likes squid and pho and can get past the idea of where tripe comes from, I recommend trying it next time you're out for pho.

Tendon I'm not so fond of. It has next to no flavour so it's neither offensive nor appealing in that regard. In terms of texture it's very much like gelatin. Eating cooked tendon then is much like eating flavourless jello that just happens to have anatomical features—not something that really appeals to me, to put it mildly.

The third thing I tried was "hot viatnamese coffee with condensed milk". It was very tasty and has a lovely presentation. A regular water glass has a shot of condensed milk in the bottom. Over top of the glass is metal device that consists of a joined plate and cup. The plate-cup thing has fine holes through it so that the percolated coffee from the grounds and water placed in the cup can drip down into the glass. There's a lid on the cup, and a small press inside. I wasn't really sure how the thing was supposed to be operated so I let the coffee do it's slow-drip percolation thing until it was done and then pressed the grounds a little to get the last out. The interesting thing is that the coffee sits on top of the condensed milk without mixing due to differences in density, and when the coffee is done percolating you mix them with the provided spoon. A basket of ice with tongs was also provided.

It wasn't nearly as hot as I expected it to be. The condensed milk and coffee don't mix readily because the milk is so thick. However, it's very, very tasty. The milk takes the bitterness of the coffee away (as I expected) and the sugar in the condensed milk makes it sweet enough that it's almost a dessert drink. I'll be ordering it again.

hundun also introduced me to a drink made of red and green beans and "pandan jelly", so I guess I really tried four new foods today. It was really tasty too and I'll be ordering one of them at some point as well.

Something I realised about eating vietnamese food is that the presentation is simple but pleasing. There's all sorts of little ways in which the diner is engaged with the final preparation of the food, whether it's things that you can add to your pho or the way the coffee requires a certain amount of personal attention before being ready to drink. It's like a personal banquet every time. Which reminds me, I need to look up sometime what the customary way to drink vietnamese coffee is. I know there are things about pho—like how it's polite to nibble on the bean sprouts while waiting for the soup and to sip the broth before adding anything to it—so I expect there are similar things about how to handle the coffee that's just cultural. I mean, if you'd never drunk tea before, an English tea service would be entirely baffling too...



Unrelatedly, Scotiabank has seen fit to double the limit on my credit card, without telling me even. I think I'm going to pretend they hadn't, but it's nice to know that's there in case of a real emergency. Yay, healthy credit rating!



Unrelatedly again, that essay I mentioned in my last entry? A new record: written in just over and hour and a half. Damn but procrastination is a waste of time. It's good to know I can whip out (philosophy) essays like that, but I'm getting less happy with the time lost as the disparity between the time it actually takes and the time I wangst about it beforehand grows.

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I need to look up sometime what the customary way to drink vietnamese coffee is.

I don't know if it is customary but at all the places I had vietnamese coffee, and for all the people I had vietnamese coffee with in Viet Nam, they would let the coffee slowly drip into the cup until it was done, the remove the lid from the small metal coffee device and sit the coffee device on top of the lid (to catch any remaining drops). The sweet milk would then be stirred into the coffee and ice added until the temperature was appealing. In the morning, no ice but as the day progressed, the ice would flow.

Ah! I figured there must be a good way of making sure it didn't drip all over, but I didn't think of using the cover that way.

This stuff is a great way to drink coffee. I'm going to have to get myself one of these drip devices, figure out what kind of beans are used, and stock up on the condensed milk.

You can find the DutchBaby brand condensed milk down along Commercial and that is what they were using a lot of in VietNam.

As for grind, the grind looked finer than you would do for french press ... somewhere between there and standard percolator grind. Err on the side of a finer grind, in my opinion.

Thanks for the tips! Now to source one of those devices...

Have you evger been to Shabusen and had the jello? Condensed milk and coffee seem to go together in so many ways.

No, but hundun was telling me I should go and try it. It sounds as if I'd like it.

The Tuesday night after I get back?

Not so much good with the timing for various reasons...

Here's a counter-proposal, though: come over with Graham for dinner with Dennis, Mouse, and I?

No thanks, though the invitation is appreciated, there's more history there than I care to open up right now, and as an invitation it's a bit lopsided in any case.

Oh well, too bad, I was just checking this post to extend the invitation myself. Maybe you'll let us know when you're ready (you can bring anyone you want as far as I'm concerned, although I'd really like to meet Graham - he sounds great! - but I'll probably meet him at school in the fall anyway if he'll still be at SFU).

Yeah, it seems to be taking me awhile. It's nice to know the door is open now, though. Thank you.

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