Throwback Thursday – Saigon Casa

Vietnamese crepe

Pho

Six weeks ago we decided to check out Saigon Casa, Vietnamese restaurant in Port Jefferson Station in Long Island.

The menu has limited options in comparison to what I’m used to seeing in other Vietnamese restaurants in Queens.

One of the dishes that we had to order was the pho. There were many types of pho, but we ordered the Pho Tai Nam Gau, which a beef soup containing rare steak, brisket and flank steak with noodles on the side.

The soup tasted good and we loved the fact that we can add the noodles at our discretion to our small bowls. I am still in search and experimenting recipes that replicated the best one I’ve had to date at the Pho Bang in Elmhurst.

Another dish I had was the Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe called Bang Xeo. This crepe was sold as a special item at this restaurant. The dish was huge and it is made of rice flour and tumeric stuffed with shrimp and pork. The dish was delicious and I want to make this dish.

I would like to return to thus restaurant to try their other dishes.

Social Saturday – Andaz Kitchen and Bar – Wall Street

Happy Saturday and I’m counting down the days until I’m able to eat food with refined/processed sugar again. As I stated in my last post, I gave up sugar except for the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables for 40 days for Lent. It’s been really challenging and hard especially this last 10 days with the gatherings for St. Patrick’s Day.

Ten days ago I’ve have had the privilege to see a preview of the food and drink at the revived Andaz Kitchen and Bar at the Andaz Wall Street Hotel in Wall Street. Previously named Dina Rata, which I learned was an Indian name meaning moon. It was deceiving that a place with that name was serving Italian food. Anyways, I preferred the new name.

When I arrived, I was greeted with champagne which I did not drink due to the sugar content. However, I settled for the Chianti which has low sugar, thanks to one of the general managers who suggested the wine as he also gave up sugar. The wine went well with my selection of crudites containing fruits, and vegetables with no hummus, dressing and/or dip to avoid the possibility to ingesting sugar.

I was impressed by the food display and presentation. I loved the color of the vegetables indicating that it is fresh. I also liked the cheese and cold cuts selection.

Next, the passed food samples from the menu, which included a variety of dishes inspired from different cultures including Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Italy and Vietnam.

Below are images of the food created by Executive Chef Pietro Consorti from the event:

Crudites

Cheese and charcuterie display

Tasting plate of cheese and cold cuts

Tasting plate of fresh and colorful vegetables

Bread, butter and anchovies

Jerk Pork Sliders

Toasted prosciutto and baguette

Puntarelle e stracciatella

Panzarella red snapper and green olives

Beef Peccadillo plantains

Fruit berry tart

Rum babba

Flan de leche

Liquid Lab mixology interactive cocktail session setup

It was obvious that I did not eat everything due to the 40 day sugar sacrifice. As a result I did not try anything containing bread and dessert. However, my favorite even from just looking at the menu was the Beef Peccadillo plantains.

Thank you to the management team at Andaz and Andaz Kitchen and Bar including Executive Chef Pietro Consorti for making me feel welcomed. I can’t wait to return and sample the remaining dishes.

Big shout out to the Liquid Lab team for a great demo on making the cocktails, which I could not participate. I do look forward to seeing them in the future.

Stay tuned for more.

Flashback Friday – Pho BangĀ 

Happy Friday! One of my family’s favorite spots to eat on a lazy night of cooking is Pho Bang, a Vietnamese restaurant in Elmhurst, NY. This restaurant also has several locations, one in Flushing and the other in Chinatown. The restaurant accepts cash only but it is a great family spot especially for quick and cheap family dinners. The dishes are not only cheap, but it has been recognized as one of the top restaurants in Elmhurst by Zagat.

My father would end up with the bill and from my recollection of the costs the total including tax was less than $30 for three people.  Even better the portions are family style! 

The awesome thing about this restaurant is their prep and presentation of their beef and abundance of vegetables. There are variety of pho to choose from, but we usually go with the Tai Chin Nam Gan Sach without the rice noodles, which is a beef soup with fresh eye round, navel, tendon and omosa. The dish comes with noodles, but we love the flavor of the beef broth plus it is carb free. The beef just cooks in the hot broth as it is served to maintain its tenderness. The vegetables of bean sprouts and mint with lemon enhanced the flavor of this refreshing hot soup. 

Another dish that we love to order is a specialty called Nam Nuong which grilled pork hash balls that come with picked carrots, shallot and radishes along with steamed rice wrappers and green leaf lettuce. This dish is refreshing and versatile where you can use the rice wrapper and place the ingredients in it. You can even go paleo and do without the rice wrapper and use the lettuce to make a wrap. 

Pho and Nam Nuong

Other dishes to try include their spring rolls which are made out of rice wrapper. Can’t go wrong with the summer roll, bun (rice vermecelli) dishes and grilled pork chops. 

Last month a fire broke into the restaurant. The restaurant is currently closed but it is undergoing renovations. Can’t wait to return to this restaurant once it opens again. In the meantime, check out the other Pho Bang restaurants in Flushing and Chinatown.