Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Full Eggroll Jacket: Me So Hungry in West Hartford

SuperLula and I can't afford a fancy getaway to some exotic locale, but on our recent coinciding Staycations, we found the time and dime to eat exotic food. We visited two different Vietnamese restaurants. I ate the same thing at both places. You know, for research. For you all!

My favorite spot for Vietnamese has always been Pho 206 (and whatever it was called before that). That's the one across the street from Green Man, where you got your first tattoo (I got mine from Jerry!). It's 206 Park - see, that's more than just a contempo, catchy name.

I got my usual, including iced coffee, egg rolls and pho soup with tofu. Vietnamese iced coffee, for the uninitiated, is rich and flavorful, especially if you let them serve it the right way - sweet and thick with condensed milk. It's not just sugar milk like Dunkin though - the coffee flavor is strong and good, so it's like a coffee dessert. It's like my favorite thing.

That and egg rolls. The fried ones. SuperLula likes the spring rolls though. I think they're freaky. As she put it: they have no secrets. Or as Patrick Stewart might say, it's too late, we've seen everything.

There's lots of great dishes at Pho 206, but I almost always get the pho soup, because it's the most fun to play with, what with the long rice noodles and all those garnishes. It's served with a plate of fresh sprouts, lime and mint that you can add yourself, and little bits of hot pepper that I like to say you can booby trap your dish with. Vietnamese restaurants traditionally have a variety of sauces at the table and I always add a bit of everything - vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce - to my soup. If you spice it up, this soup will leave you leaking snot and dripping sweat, which is great for dates. The servings are massive - I get the smaller "medium" portion, which is more than enough.

A few days later, SuperLula and I were at it again. We went to Pho Boston (Shield Street Plaza). Whereas Pho 206 is a quiet little hole in the wall, Pho Boston is a big, bright and open with more of a party vibe. And later hours! Imagine - dinner til 10 pm - in West Hartford! DH Scenic maintains that this is the Vietnamese restaurant to go to, though I admit I got turned off by a bad menu selection my first time out. But this time I went with essentially the same meal I had at 206, and with excellent results.

In fact, I think I liked the vegetable and tofu pho at Boston even better (though I preferred the egg rolls and coffee from 206), because it had more different kinds of vegetables, including adorable baby corn. I like dishes that have lots of different stuff in them. I'm always bummed out by Asian dishes that are served with, like, one veggie. Which is why I'm so partial to East West Grill, for example, where the curries have a like a zillion different veggies and three textures of tofu. Incidentally, the Pho Boston outing was SuperLula's first experience with pho soup. She's a convert.

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