Viva

January6

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Many years ago, 21 to be exact, we were told by good friends about a unique ethnic restaurant on Sargent Ave. where they serve a soup with a crispy shrimp pancake floating on top. That was enough incentive for us to make the visit back then and sure enough, the Hu Tieu Nam Vang is still on the menu today. We appreciated the silky broth dotted with fresh cilantro leaves. The shrimp pancake satiated both my love of crunchy food and my passion for potatoes. The pancake was close to a potato pancake or latke. In addition to this treat, there were slices of pork, crab, more shrimp and satisfying rice noodles floating in the broth.

Speaking of noodles-have you ever wondered why Asian cuisine refers to the fine rice noodles by an obviously Italian name? Vermicelli literally means “little worms” but generally refers to the size of the noodle being thinner than spaghetti. Vermicelli in Italy is made from wheat flour whereas in Asia, it is fashioned from rice flour. In Vietnamese cuisine, the noodles are called “bun”.

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Therefore, when we selected a bowl of noodles with pork balls, spring roll pieces, shrimp, crispy pork slices, shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, julienned cucumber and mint, it too was called “bun”-in this case “Bun Thap Cam”or Deluxe Vermicelli. This is my favourite Vietnamese dish which I order whenever I get the opportunity, sometimes as a cool, summer lunch.

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We got somewhat adventurous with our third selection, choosing shrimp (again) sautéed with onions and carrots in coconut juice and fiery spices. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, that is just slightly so that it retained a satisfying crunch when bitten into. The sauce was so divine that had we a basket of bread, we would have torn off pieces to soak it up. Rice also does a great job of absorbing sauces and so we employed the bowl which had been delivered to the table earlier.

We discovered as we settled our bill that the original family whom owned Viva on our first visit in 1993, still owns it today but is has been passed along to the next generation, namely amicable son Phuong Nguyen.

Viva Restaurant Vietnamese & Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Whilst searching for a “noodles” quotation, I found this one regarding “nincompoops”.  The latter was one of my Dad’s favourite expression when we ( his kids) weren’t behaving….

Kath’s quote: “….it is possible to exaggerate and to be duped by gastronomic nincompoops who write of gourmets with a sense of taste so refined that they can tell whether a fish was caught under or between the bridges, and distinguish by its superior flavor the thigh on which the partridge leans while asleep.”-Angelo Pellegrini

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.


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