I was inspired by Pete Wells’ restaurant review in the New York Times this week to escape November. He prescribes eating Singaporean cuisine as a remedy to any seasonal lethargy. Last night I made the Khmer lemongrass coconut curried chicken from “Hot Sour Salty Sweet” by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, and was transported to Southeast Asia. The humidity of the house was ratcheted up by the aromatic food slow cooking on our stove. We added seasonally appropriate Delicata squash and carrots to the curry. They were upgraded to tender, spice infused treats. We couldn’t wait to make the meal again, and to eat the leftovers.
When I’m not cooking Southeast Asian food, I am walking to University Ave in St Paul to have a heaping bowl of pho. In these dark, day-dreaming days of November, it’s easy to want to escape from Minnesota. Bundle up and get outside. A little vitamin D and some light cardio can really improve your mood. Then, get a window seat at Pho Ca Dao, order a bowl of their soup, bask in the sun rays and restore yourself over a steaming, curative bowl of traditional Vietnamese food. Two of you can have a mini-vacation for less than $25 and without taking any time off.
There is a lot of information on the merits of broth. I believe that consuming hot, clear broth is a good way to get hydrated, decongest, and sate your hunger. Beyond purchasing Taking Stock chicken broth, here is my completely subjective list of favorite Southeast Asian soups in the city:
Pho Ca Dao’s House Special Pho
Skip the eggrolls and go for the gold: their signature pho soup. The House Special has beef tenderloin, beef brisket, honeycomb tripe, and meatballs. I like to think that the tripe has magical restorative properties.
Bangkok Thai Deli’s Khao Soi
What inspired me to order this dish the first time is unknown. It has become my favorite over the top food. Tender bone-in chicken served in a yellow curry broth with both fried and boiled egg noodles and pickled vegetables knock this dish out of the park.
Pho 79’s Mi Hoanh Thanh
This restaurant on Nicollet Ave in Minneapolis has it all. Despite their extensive menu, they serve up one of the best phos I’ve had. If you’re in the mood for something else, try the Mi. Springy egg noodles and a lighter broth are a departure from the beef broth/rice noodle combination. Also, the pork wontons are really, really tasty.
Quangs’ Bun Ca Kieng Giang
This seabass soup is only available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They make a limited amount, and I have been disappointed trying to order it later in the day, so get your order in early! As an East Coast girl and a fish snob, I’m here to say that it may be the best fish dish in the city.