Thursday, October 1, 2015

Vietnamese cuisine and the culinary tourist

On Monday, I went to the west side of Buffalo to have lunch with my friends Jean and Lee. We could be called the "Culinary Tourist Club." We explore the cuisine of different nations each time that we go out to lunch. This time, we went to a restaurant called "Pho Dollar." Pho is a type of noodle soup, often made with rice noodles. The soup has its origins in the northern part of Vietnam, in the Nam Dinh region, sometime in the early part of the twentieth century.

The earliest pho was sold by vendors, who roamed the streets. They carried on their shoulders everything that they needed to create a mobile kitchen. I am trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to visualize a mobile kitchen carried on the cook's shoulders. Well, apparently, it happened. It was long before food trucks became popular. By the mid-1930s, pho was prepared indoors.

For more of the story of pho, take a look at: this pho (not faux) website.

Pho Dollar is located in a neighborhood of diverse cuisine opportunities. There are restaurants from a great variety of countries. You can travel the world without leaving Buffalo! There are also a number of grocery stores that specialize in African and Asian foods so that you can try to prepare these cuisines at home. These newer stores and restaurants mingle with the many Italian stores and restaurants already there. One of the most famous is Guercio and Sons, a long-time staple on the west side of Buffalo.

Pho Dollar is decorated with all sorts of lovely things.

I was captivated by these statues. The main weakness of the restaurant, however, is that the eating portion is up a short flight of stairs. These stairs are very steep. If you're not steady on your feet, take your time in going up the stairs. The food at the top is well worth the trip (just try not to trip, as one of my companions did).
The menu is very extensive. After much (potential headache-inducing) thinking, I chose a soup called Mi Do Bien. It is a seafood soup with egg noodles in a chicken broth. The seafood includes shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, fish meatballs, and squid. In addition to all of these lovely ingredients, I discovered a little surprise... an egg! A very little egg. It was very tasty. When I asked the server, she told me that the egg was a "baby quail egg." Yum. It was scrumptious! I was happy to discover that I got two of these little treasures.

Here is my gorgeous bowl of soup. This is an enormous bowl. At $9.95, this bowl of soup is a bargain. Not only is the price right, but the taste was excellent. The broth was nice and light, the vegetables were fresh and al dente, and the seafood was tender and tasty.


I also had this egg roll. It comes with a sweet dipping sauce.

On the side are bean sprouts, jalapenos, and lime. These can be added to the soup. I added the bean sprouts and I squeezed the lime into the soup. Not being a fan of hot and spicy, I decided not to try the jalapeno.

All in all, a fabulous lunch. As a bonus, it did not break the bank. If you're in the west side of Buffalo and you're looking to get on the culinary tour, I would definitely encourage you to try Pho Dollar.

3 comments:

emilia.m said...

it looked great :) the soup and the decor! makes me wonder how does the seafood really taste... (I am such a chicken and never tried it before, too scared to turn out that I could be allergic ;) )

Margit Crane Luria (Gifted With ADD) said...

I love Vietnamese food but doesn't most Pho have MSG?? It does in Seattle. That bowl sure looks yummy though!

Yvona said...

Looks delicious! Though i'm not a big fan of seafood - but i like fish. And the baby quail egg is intriguing.

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