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May 17, 2009 04:45 AM

Xinh Xinh: crabs, quail, &c.

Xinh Xinh has received lots of good press on this board, and a chowdown there Saturday offered a great opportunity to move beyond the excellent pho and bun (the only dishes I had tried there) to sample more widely.

We ordered six dishes: papaya salad (topped with shrimp & shrimp crackers); grilled quail (tiny crispy birds in a sweetish, finger-lickin’ sauce); fried softshell crabs (so coated in batter that little crab flavor came through); canh chua ga (hot & sour soup made with chicken, celery, tomatoes, bean sprouts, and pineapple chunks, so tasty we upended the pot to drain the last drops unreachable with the ladle); an exemplary spicy pork with basil; and banh mi bo kho (a beef stew served with rolls to mop up the broth). Standouts for me were the quail, spicy pork, and canh chua ga, but the whole meal sparkled with a well-balanced variety of colors, flavors, & textures.

Our initial plan had been to visit a newly opened restaurant, but this lunch proved that it can be nearly as rewarding to sample new dishes at an old favorite.

Pictures are here:

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  1. " the whole meal sparkled with a well-balanced variety of colors, flavors, & textures" -- sums it up perfectly, and Xinh Xinh is so good, the staff so welcoming and efficient that I never try any of the other Vietnamese options. The rich banh mi bo kho was indeed like a slow simmered boeuf en daube, perhaps best appreciated on a cold blustery day, and the presentation of the bubbling canh chua ga in its tall cauldron was very dramatic (was there a flame underneath?). I have never attempted this soup at home but my guess is that that the key is the broth, so deliciously soothing and refreshing.

    1. the canh chua was the highlight of the meal for me. the tart tamarind based broth was the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and slightly spicy and was chock-full of chicken, tomatoes, pineapple, chinese celery, and bean sprouts. absolutely delicious

      1. Loved the refreshing, crunchy papaya salad . About the obliterated soft shell crab essence, I should have remembered that we experienced a similar flavor- numbing, fried preparation at Dok Bua. Co-worker had a sauteed version w/capers at the Fireplace Sat. that showcased their flavor.