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Monday, September 17, 2012

Vietnam Café

Vietnam Café
forks: 7.9
price: $$

816 S. 47th St.
Philadelphia, PA

While this used to be a favorite hidden gem of mine, people are slowly beginning to discover the concealed treasure that is Vietnam Café.  I used to think I could avoid sharing this spot, keep it to myself and bring the occasional friend for a delicious dinner, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that its unearthing is inevitable and now I’m ready to share. Vietnam Café is serving up clean and flavorful classic Vietnamese dishes that are mouthwateringly divine. This is good, quality food, full of rich and bold flavors that are sure to convert you to a Vietnamese food lover on the spot. Unlike Chinese or other Asian cuisine, Vietnamese food is light and delicate, yet has an intense flavor profile that makes it interesting and different. This particular outing to VC was a special occasion as my pack was FINALLY all together in one place after a lengthy distanced summer. What better way to celebrate then to chat and catch up over deliciously comforting food? No better way.
To start, Morgs and I split the tofu rolls. Two rolls wrapped in thin rice paper are filled with tofu, rice noodles, and some vegetables, and are served alongside a deeply concentrated peanut dipping sauce. The rolls are fresh tasting and springy, combining a multitude of textures that your palette will welcome. ALSO, this sauce is BOMB, and you will find yourself heaping tablespoons of it on even the smallest bite of the roll….or licking it plain if you’re us.
For my entrée I got the Clay Pot Chicken; tender pieces of chicken simmered in a traditional Vietnamese sauce that sings of garlic, ginger and scallions, all served in a smoldering clay pot with a side of fluffy white rice. The sauce is potent and intoxicatingly addictive. It’s hard to pinpoint all the tasty notes as it has a deep complexity that informs you that this sauce is built upon layers and layers of flavors.
The soups at Vietnam Café are actually heaven-sent. If you’re feeling even the slightest bit sick and you lap down one of these cauldrons, I can say with almost 99% positivity that you will be feeling better. Powerfully spiced broths somehow have the ability to carry a delicious intensity while still remaining gentle and not too pungent. How they do it, I don’t know, but as long as I get to enjoy it I don’t really care about cracking the ancient Vietnamese culinary codes.
 Vegetable Seafood Soup...Sea all that food?!
The broken rice dishes features soft meats and vegetables, broken rice, and an exquisite balance of flavors. While each component is perfectly flavored and can solidly stand on it’s own, when eaten together a match along the lines of Posh Spice and D-Becks *aka magnificently harmonious* is achieved.
The beef curry was good, not great. While it had a strong distinct taste, the texture wasn’t my favorite and seemed a bit grainy, as if it needed to be strained one more time.
The shrimp dish Neesh got was excellent. The shrimp were plump and plentiful, beautifully cooked, and were lovingly married perfectly to the sauce they came simmered in.
If you’re in the mood for an interesting dessert try the Coconut Taro Rice Pudding. Sticky rice gets topped with thick coconut milk and chunks of warm taro root are tucked inside each bite. Possessing a unique balance of textures, and an even more unique balance of flavors, this dessert, while not appealing to everyone, will certainly strike that subtle sweet note in many, and it did so with my table.
So, the once my secret hole in the wall-pre-renovation spot of Vietnam Café is not so secret anymore. And now that it’s big enough to seat us all, I don’t mind so much. Once you try it’s clean, simply delicious dishes, you’ll develop my ardent love for the Café as well. My next hope? PLEASE start delivery, I will singlehandedly keep your delivery business running happily. 

Vietnamese Voucher #1

1 comment:

  1. mmmm mmm mm!! I'm trying to relive and retaste the complex sauces and multitude of textures built on layers and layers of flavor...

    Three Cheers for Vietnam Cafe!

    This post does it justice, good work Manda love :)