I had lunch there yesterday for the second time. Let me start by saying it is really cold here in Salt Lake City, but don't go to Indochine looking to warm up. The restaurant was really uncomfortably cold on both times that I have visited. It's a small enough space that a few space heaters would go a long way. Even though I resent having to wear a coat to eat my lunch, I will definitely go back.
First, the servers are great. We had a relatively newbie, who didnt know much about the menu, but she was enthusiastic and called in for reinforcements when she knew she needed additional information.
We started with the shrimp in lettuce cups. Good, not exactly a revelation. But I think the dish itself has its limits.
My companion wanted noodles, so she tried a pan fried noodle dish with bbque pork. She enjoyed it, the bite I had tasted good, but I would definitely try a different noodle dish next time.
I debated over all the choices on the menu....I'll just have to eat my way through it.....but since I was freezing, and the whole reason I wanted to go there for lunch was because of my first-time experience with the hot and spicy Hue beef soup, I succombed to my craving and ordered it again. I REALLY like that soup. It's not exactly lip-tingling, as described by Stu, but pleasantly spicy and there is a variety of condiments on the table if a person wants to add hot sauce. The meat is tender and actually has flavor. I asked for extra mint, cilantro, lime etc, which was happily provided. My only wish is that they would cut down a bit on the noodles and add more broth. Well, that's because I ate all the broth so the ample serving of take-home leftovers needs more liquid! Anyway, it's first rate. As long as it's freezing cold in the restaurant and SLC continues to be an icebox, it will be hard to pass over.
But the real star was the eggplant and pork. I ordered it to take home, and am having it for lunch even as I write. Wonderful sauce, smoky eggplant, generous pork. They add peas, which get pretty mushy, don't know if they would be better when served fresh at the restaurant rather than in take out. In any event, I added some frozen peas when I heated the dish up today, and they brightened the dish.
Prices are decent and I'm already dreading fighting the summer crowds for an outdoor table.
Just tried Indochine. We are looking at relocating to SLC from Toronto and have been very apprehensive about the food scene. I have a passing familiarity from a couple trips here a year for the last while and doing research on this board and other resources.
Indochine has added a bright spot to the dining scene in our eyes.
We went with:
Shredded Pork with Japanese Eggplant
Vietnamese Beef Stew (chalkboard special)
The eggplant was amazing. It rivals similar asian eggplants dishes anywhere in N.America and Asia for a well balanced mix of soy and touch of sugar. There was very little oil on the plate which is always difficult when cooking eggplant in this style (wok fried, but i believe the eggplant is oil blanched first). The dish had in Cantonese food terms, 'wok hay/hai'. The term to describe that carmelization and smoky flavour that occurs from a well-season wok (usu carbon steel) heated to smoking hot as a prelude to stir-drying. At least that's my best description in English I can manage. Oh, btw...the peas were just perfect when we had them in resto so might not stand up to take-out or just a case of an off-day.
The lemongrass chicken was almost as I expected given other reviews here and on Stu'd board. However this prep was even stronger than the ones described...I think the chef may have over-marinated the chicken in this case with too much nuoc mam (fish sauce. The saltiness permeated the meat fully and was pretty salty...like munching on anchovies. Not sure if this is the desired effect. But I can understand where it could be overwhelming. The curry component was good and the sauce a nice thickness but it also suffered from the saltiness. I'll give it another try after going thru the menu more fully. As it stands I wouldn't recommend this dish because of the super strong fish sauce component...a saltiness overload and also the strong aroma/odour. Might bode well for the other currys on the menu though given the heat/curry/sauce component. Oh, and I didn't really taste much lemongrass in it due to the overwhelming nuoc mam.
The Vietnamese Beef Stew was good. It comes with a loaf of crusty baguette for dipping. It is a beef brisket stew in a unthickened stock/sauce/broth. Some of the key components in the flavour are star anise, cloves, carrots, possibly tomato, shallots, garlic and who knows what elese. It looks really hot (paprika red) when it comes to your table but at first taste it is a balanced sweet tangy spicy mouthful (spices not pepper spice). The beef brisket is cut like in a lot of asian stews/braises into chunks and are cooked to melt in your mouth dneness. There are definitely pieces with some tendon/connective tissue in amongst the meat. But all good eating. There was one piece that made me think asian Osso Bucco. So a hit by our standards.
A hit in our books. Service was good and quite charming. Timing on the kitchen was good in terms of getting all our dishes to table simultaneously...2 of 3 came together and the third after about 7-10 minutes. The waiter was very apologetic about being late...no, we didn't complain...he just said that it would be right out and it took a bit longer.
We are going to have some fun nights working thru the menu.
Gotta agree on the temperature, was the same when we went there.
I think these guys have got a major hit on their hands if they get the service consistent and keep the quality of the food up. That location (and as you say the patio) is excellent apart from somewhat so-so parking.