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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Saigon Bistro 2: Pho and Vietnamese Cuisine

Not Sponsored: My family has always taught me the importance of diversity. Since I was a little girl, they encouraged me to connect with people from various ethnic, race and cultural backgrounds. What I  have learned from others is invaluable. Food however is one area where I'm seriously lacking diversity. My family pretty much cooked cuisine that they grew up with and liked. They really didn't venture into other cultural cuisines, unless you want to include spaghetti and meatballs (Italian). Even take-out was food from New Orleans cuisine and culture. So that brings me to today's blog post. I am going to start trying food I've never tried. I went to a Vietnamese restaurant called Saigon Bistro 2. It's nestled within the Hong Kong Food Market. Saigon Bistro 2 specializes in Pho and Vietnamese cuisine. I've always seen pictures of Pho, but I've never tried it. Unbelievable, huh? Pho originated in Vietnam. As a matter of fact, it is considered their national dish. It is served in households, street stalls and restaurants throughout the country. The main ingredients are rice noodles with beef or chicken. Seafood has also been incorporated into Pho. I love understanding what I'm eating, so I thought a little background information would be helpful. It truly helps me. We started with an appetizer. We ordered their Spring Rolls with Pork & Shrimp. They looked different from the spring and egg rolls I order from my local "Americanized" Chinese Restaurant. These were clear! It was explained to me that they were wrapped in rice paper (semi-clear), which I thought was cool. These spring rolls were stuffed with the biggest shrimp! They were truly delicious! The sauce (garlic/lemon sauce) they were served with was so tasty. They were delicious and filling. I also ordered the Pho Rice Noodle Soup with Shrimp (Pho Tom). They give you a separate plate filled with (garnishes) onion, cilantro, bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime and jalapenos. You're given chopsticks, Asian soup spoons and for chopstick challenged people like me a fork. HaHaHa I love soups in general, so I knew I would love this! The broth in itself was so good. I added my garnishments and a little Hoisin Sauce. I loved it! The noodles are really long and the shrimp were huge. It's amazing how the tail shell is left on the shrimp. I really found it to be delicious, nutritious, nourishing and filling. I was full and fulfilled after eating everything! I definitely would like to try other combinations. My love had Pho Dak Biet (Eye Round Steak, Brisket and Meatballs). I also loved the decor of the restaurant. I loved the oversized lucky cat. The proper name for it is called Maneki-neko (beckoning cat). It is a Japanese figurine which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner. "The figurine depicts a cat, traditionally a calico Japanese Bobtail, "beckoning" with an upright paw. The figurines are often displayed in shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, dry cleaners, and other businesses, generally near the entrance. Some Maneki-neko are now equipped with a mechanical paw which slowly waves back and forth." There was a sign displayed in the restaurant that stated "Bless the food before us. The family beside us. And the love between us. Amen" I thought that was beautiful and it reminded me of when I was younger and even now, how we sat to eat as a family and we always said grace, a prayer and blessed the food that was prepared. I don't hear much of that nowadays. As a family we would sit at a table. We would say a prayer. And then we would eat. We were grateful for what we had. We would talk about our day or current events as well. Sitting at a table and eating is also better for digestion than eating your food standing up or walking around. That's just my two cents! I really loved this place! They were nice. The place was clean. The food was delicious. I have no complaints. Saigon Bistro 2 is located at 925 Behrman Highway in Gretna, Louisiana. While you're there, stop in the Hong Kong Food Market. It's a HUGE grocery store. Besides everyday staples, this market has all kinds of exotic-international fruit & vegetables, snacks and just things you won't find in your everyday grocery store. It's Asian owned, but many from the Caribbean, Latin and other ethnic communities frequent the market. You really have to see this entire area (it's a huge strip mall with different kind of shops). I was also charmed by the three Asian Buddha Karate Statues located out front (see picture below). It was really nice to see this community. How they work together. They better the area, by providing so many wonderful things. We should all do that. It really taught me a lot.

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