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Oct 31, 2012 11:09 AM

What did you have for lunch today Part 4

Time to start a new thread.

We came from here (Part 3):

Tell us what you had for lunch, whether fancy or modest, whether in a restaurant or at home; to desperation meals from the snack machine in the office coffee room...

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  1. Semi-late lunch today:
    Gỏi cuốn, w/ peanut dipping sauce.
    Bún bò Huế; somewhat on the salty side.

    Saigon Restaurant,
    4760 W 38th Street
 Indianapolis, IN 46254.

    3 Replies
    1. re: huiray

      Looks pretty good!

      It's amazing how the Vietnamese food we get in Singapore & Malaysia are so bad compared to those you can find in the US, considering our proximity to Vietnam. For e.g., the distance between a Malaysian city like Kota Bharu to Saigon, Vietnam, is perhaps like the distance between New York & Pittsburgh. I guess ideology (especially during the Cold War era) played a large part in segregating communist states like Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos from its non-communist neighbors. These days, with the ASEAN binding all these former foes together in a common market, and with greater travel & interaction between our people, it was sometimes really amazing for Singaporeans & Malaysians (especially the Chinese) to discover that Vietnamese culture and food is 90% similar to ours. I thought Saigon food was especially similar to Penang food in Malaysia, amongst others:
      Hu tieu = koay teow t'ng
      Banh Uot = chee cheong fun

      P.S. - The signboards on the stalls (I snapped these photos at Hong Phat coffeeshop at Cholon, Saigon's Chinatown) read:
      "Hu Tieu Nam Vang" which translates as "Koay Teow Phnom Penh", since this popular noodle dish was introduced by itinerant Chinese (Chiuchow/Teochew) hawkers from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
      "Banh Uot Dac Biet" just meant "Cheong Fun 'Special'" - which contained quite a few types of French-influenced Vietnamese charcuterie. Very sweet though.

      1. re: klyeoh

        Very interesting. I think I would agree with the "Communist" – "Non-Communist" segregation and wall back then between SE Asian nations. Nice photos; when were they taken?

        Yes, it is notable that there is a lot of similarity between food in VN and food of the Chinese diaspora esp. Teochew and related. I would think that the emphasis on *fresh* herbs and greens and *lots* of them is one thing that makes VN cuisine stand out, however. The French influence and absorption of things that started out with a quasi-French or full-blown French origin indeed ought also to be noted. Even Phở, that dish emblematic of VN, is thought to have been derived from the French "Pot-au-feu" in some quarters. The charred onion and ginger that goes into it is also thought to have French/European derivation. Then there's Bánh Mì - which is also thought to have a French colonial origin, especially with a lot of the stuff that is used for it...

        I suppose the fact that the US was so heavily intertwined with South VN and the large wave of folks that came over to the States with the withdrawal of the US from VN contributed in great part to the vigor of VN cuisine in the US. Not to mention the familiarity of a lot of folks with VN cuisine when they were serving in VN, so that there was not as great a need to "dumb down" the cuisine when VN folks set up shop here in the States, unlike some other cuisines (like "Chinese").

        But mayhaps someone from VN here would comment and make corrections as needed...

        1. re: huiray

          Those photos were taken in 2008 thereabouts - by then, my experience with the Teochew-speaking old restaurateur in Paris (which I'd detailed in another thread, somewhere) had given me the confidence to traverse much of Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City's streets, speaking to the vendors, etc, in Teochew or Hokkien, with some phrasebook Vietnamese thrown in. Most of the time, I didn't have any problems at all making myself understood, especially in the Cholon district :-D

    2. I get to be first!

      A whole falafel topped with diced tomato, lettuce and pickled cabbage and with pickled radish and a couple of small olives on the side I eschewed the hot sauce oil and unscrewed the cap to dress my falafal with the paste of dried red chilis under the oil. Sunrise Deli has great falafel.

      3 Replies
        1. re: huiray

          Yes that's the place. My falafel was freshly made and made for a very pleasant lunch b4 dvd shopping. I'm no expert, but my impression is that it is very authentic. The salads look very good too, although I never get past the falafel.

        2. re: chocolatetartguy

          Oh I *am* jealous...I used to live about two blocks from there and it was a favorite!

        3. I had a medium sized roasted eggplant stuffed with crumbled hamburger tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella. It was yummy!

          1 Reply
          1. My lunch was at Ishin, one of KL's premier stand-alone Japanese restaurants. It's located in a small bungalow and its surroundings really evoked the feeling of being in a small suburban eatery in Japan, with sloping roads & trees all round.

            My personal lunch bento today (part of a larger spread, as I was dining with office colleagues) was Ishin's Autumn Special, which contained some sashimi, vegetable tempura, prawn croquettes, grilled salmon wrapped around tuna, sweet egg omelette, raw scallops & salmon roe on vinegared rice & edamame.

            6 Replies
            1. re: klyeoh

              I had left over psuedo-pho fro last night's dinner.
              I didn't have beansprouts or Thai basil, and used giant purple mustard which dyed it all an odd greenish-purple.
              Sounds hideous, but it was very tasty.

              1. re: klyeoh

                Oh, that looks very good! Very good indeed. Grilled salmon wrapped around tuna? Interesting!

                Did your colleagues have similar sets?

                This place, I presume:

                (p.s. it always disturbs me when I see upside-down depictions of Phalaenopsis they use in their Flash sequence of background pictures at the top left... I get very annoyed when I see decorators and/or advertisements use those artificial stems of "Phalaenopsis" flowers in their decor schemes with all the flowers carefully rotated and symmetrically displayed - upside down! AAARRGGHHH.)

                They have no pics in their gallery of the exterior. You wouldn't happen to have taken any, would you? I did a double-take when I saw their listing for Hakkaisan sake making - until I remembered that there is indeed a Hakkaisan Brewery in Niigata in Japan and they weren't refering to "Hakkasan", an, uh, different thing. :-)

                1. re: huiray

                  I'm afraid I didn't take any exterior shots of the restaurant as it was drizzling today - KL's been pretty much inundated by the monsoon rains daily these few weeks.

                  No, my colleagues didn't have the set as they didn't like the fixed items listed - but they went overboard with the California-style makis, so we ended up with a LOT of leftovers :-(

                  Will post pics of those on the China-SE-Asia board.

                  1. re: huiray

                    Picture of the building which houses Ishin, taken by KL food blogger vkeong.

                    1. re: klyeoh


                      ...and yet just outside it beyond the tree border is a 7-lane divided highway. :-)
                      [Jalan Klang Lama]

                2. An "omelette meal" delivered to my office from Mak Sandwich in East Jerusalem. A parsley and onion omelette comes with two pitas, a side of labneh, a small Arabic salad and pickled veggies.

                  Not the world's greatest omelette, but for delivery to my office - it's excellent.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: cresyd

                    Interesting. Tell us more - is this sort of delivery commonplace in Jerusalem? How about to homes? What sort of stuff? Difficulties or "availability across lines of conflict", so to say...

                    I am reminded of the extensive networks of dabbawallahs in many cities of India.

                    1. re: huiray

                      Regarding delivery, for the most part there is a pretty strong (Palestinian) East side/(Jewish) West side split in regards to how delivery food works. On the West side, delivery restaurants are pretty similar to what you'd find in other Western countries. On the East side in Palestinian neighborhoods - the restaurant culture is a bit different but there is also a strong delivery culture for expat aid workers/Consulates and other foreign organizations. It's not a given that a place in West Jerusalem won't deliver to East Jerusalem - but there are places that either refuse and giving directions to where you are in the East can be very difficult to someone unfamiliar with the area. I would say that it's not so much a case of "areas of conflict" - but much more a case of self segregation so the idea of placing and expecting the delivery person to find your office may be at risk. In the 2.5 years I've worked in my office, we've only ever gotten delivery from places based in the West from two restaurants - and only if the order is over a relatively significant amount.

                      Mak Sandwich, from my experience, is particularly well known in the area because unlike most restaurants that prefer you place one order per office a day - you can make 20 separate orders to Mak Sandwich a day for delivery for an item that costs as little as $2.50. They're not the best, but they're good enough and very convenient to be quite popular at lunch time.

                      1. re: cresyd

                        Very interesting. Thanks for the response, cresyd.

                        I take it Mak Sandwich is in East Jerusalem? Is there a "halal"/"kosher"/non-halal-non-kosher split as well?

                        1. re: huiray

                          Mak Sandwich is in East Jerusalem - but in general the obvious split in Jerusalem is more kosher/non-kosher (which can include halal)/places that serve pork. For whatever reason pork is that "final frontier" for both the Muslim and observant Jewish patron. There are places that serve milk and meat together and shrimp where quasi-observant Jews are happy eating (even if they don't order those items) and restaurants that have alcohol where quasi-observant Muslims are happy eating. But as soon as pig gets on the menu then the place is definitely not an establishment someone "respectable" would go to.

                          1. re: cresyd

                            Appreciate the additional background.

                      2. re: huiray

                        ...Or the network of "tiffin meals" suppliers in places like Chennai:

                        1. re: huiray

                          Heh. It seems Neal Brown will be offering lunch deliveries in Indianapolis using Indian-style metal tiffin carriers.