Category Archives: Vietnamese food

They’ll dance while you dine

If you click on this picture and blow it up, you will see my friend Nancy's head in the upper right hand corner. Jaime Green shot this last year at Saigon, 1103 N. Broadway.

A couple of local Asian restaurants will soon be offering traditional cultural dancing to entertain their diners.

One is Sit @ Thai Bistro, which has recently begun an every-Friday-night traditional dance show. From 6 to 7 p.m. at the restaurant’s west side location, 7603 W. 21st St., a professional Thai dancer from Bangkok performs.

Monday is the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated by many countries. It’s the Year of the Dragon, and local Vietnamese restaurant Saigon, 1103 N. Broadway, will celebrate as it does every year with traditional Dragon Dancers in the restaurant around noon. Check out the picture above if you doubt how well this spectacle accompanies a #45.

To Chau: A solid reader recommendation

Above is the vermicelli noodle dish with grilled pork strips. Below is the BBQ pork sandwich.

I love it hate it love it when a reader tells me about a restaurant I’ve never heard of.

I love it because it often results in my discovering a fabulous restaurant. I hate it because, well, HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS PLACE?? (BTW, mean comment leavers, that was a rhetorical question.)

The latest restaurant I can’t believe I didn’t know about is To Chau, a Vietnamese restaurant at 4875 E. Pawnee. A reader told me about it during a recent dining chat.

I drove past it a couple of weeks ago while out searching for shaved ice booths, and earlier this week, I went to check it out.

Apparently, To Chau has been open for about six years. It serves Vietnamese sandwiches, Pho, the popular vermicelli noodle dishes known as “bun” and more. I tried a BBQ pork sandwich, which featured crusty French bread stuffed with very flavorful and non-fatty meat, cucumber, cilantro, carrot and jalapeno. And it cost only $3.50.

The To Chau interior. Photos courtesy of my lunch date, Jaime Green.

I also sampled the bun noodle dish with grilled pork strips. Again, the meat was very flavorul and placed atop a mound of vermicelli noodles, shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber and cilantro. It was $8.75 and came with a tasty quartered egg roll.

The restaurant was roomy and attractive, and the service was good. To Chau is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays and Mondays; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, call 316-683-2428.

Vietnamese coffee: An underappreciated summer treat

When I first moved to Wichita, the same smart people who introduced me to Vietnamese food also introduced me to Vietnamese coffee.

If you don’t know about it, you should. Although it’s a calorie bomb, it’s a decadent treat, and as my coworker Suzanne can attest after I shared mine with her yesterday, an instant energy booster.

Vietnamese coffee (ca phe sua da) , available in most Vietnamese restaurants around town, is made most often with a dark-roast coffee like Cafe Du Monde’s coffee and chicory. Servings are brewed individually in a metal French drip placed over a glass cup that contains a layer of sweetened condensed milk. Once all the coffee has dripped into the cup, it’s stirred, then poured over ice.

My friend Jill brought one to me at work yesterday that she purchased to-go from Tsunami, a favorite restaurant of hers at 6254 E 37th N. It was conveniently packaged in a plastic cup with a sealed cellophane. It was huge and only $2. I always have my Vietnamese coffee at Saigon, 1103 N. Broadway.

Anyone else out there a Vietnamese coffee lover?

Tacos have replaced pho on South Hillside

What once was at My Canh...

A reader named Ron sent in this question over the weekend:

“I drove by 2959 S. Hillside and found a Mexican food restaurant.  Is there another address for My Canh?”

Sadly, My Canh, a delicious Vietnamese restaurant I reviewed back in 2007, closed its doors about a year ago. Nhung Nguyen and Johnson Tran re-opened the restaurant at 2959 S. Hillside in 2007 after having closed, moved and reopened it twice before. (Maybe they will again? We can hope…)

The good news: The business that took over the space is called Restaurante Tienda Rochel. It’s a family-owned business that’s half grocery store, half restaurant. It specializes in breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes prepared by owner Rafaela Rochel and her sisters. Look for dishes such as heuvos rancheros, tortas, burritos, shrimp cocktail, and on weekends, a whole grilled chicken that’s been marinated overnight.

Meanwhile, Ron, if you need some suggestions on good Vietnamese restaurants to help you with your pho craving, I recommend My Tho, Pho Hot Bistro, and the classic Wichita Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon at 1103 N. Broadway.

Da Nang closed? This does not please me

A very reliable source I’ll just call Sigrid recently let me know that one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants in town, Da Nang at 1556 N Broadway, had closed. In fact it closed about a month ago, and there’s a sign in the window indicating that something else will soon go into the space. (A neighboring tenant says it won’t be Vietnamese food, though.)

I love Vietnamese food, and Da Nang had some of Wichita’s best. I loved their banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), and their crab Rangoon was the best in town. I also had an affinity for an appetizer they served made with fried shrimp and bundles of fried sweet potato straws.

It was a bright, cheery little place, and the owners were so nice. It will be missed.

I had my Chinese Christmas, sorta

The whole gang on Christmas Day at Saigon.

The whole gang on Christmas Day at Saigon.

I’m lucky I have a family that’s so willing to go along with my food whims.

Just before Christmas, I wrote a little essay for the Go! section about the joy of eating out at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day. My inspiration, of course, comes 100 percent from “A Christmas Story,” — specifically the scene at the Chop Suey Palace.

I cooked a nice dinner of molcajetes (a recipe The Eagle secured years ago from now-closed Mexican restaurant El Torero) for my family on Christmas Eve, and in exchange, they agreed to eat out on Christmas Day. We debated our options and ultimately decided on Saigon 1103 N. Broadway. True, it’s a Vietnamese restaurant, but it SERVES Chinese food. And several of my family members ordered it.

My BFF Jaime Green caught the image above during our festive feast, which included a nice Vietnamese appetizer plate sent over by owner Hanh Bui.

I’m at the end of the table on the left, not looking at the camera because I was so entranced by the WHOLE FRIED CATFISH my nephew Cody ordered.

Merry Chinese Christmas!

Eat here soon

halloween.jpg 004For years, I’ve been told by chefs and foodies that I should try My Tho, a little Vietnamese restaurant at 500 E. Central (corner of Central and Emporia) that doubles as a pool hall.

Tanya Tandoc loves it, as does Douglas Pitts and foodie friends Carrie Rengers and Joe Stumpe.

So on Saturday, I joined the latter two for lunch at My Tho, and it was as good as billed. I can’t stop thinking about the beef stew (above) that I had. It’s pho made with beef, carrots, egg noodles and the deepest, richest red broth. I just kept sipping until my stomach hurt.

It’s not fancy, but it’s clean and tasty. Next time you’re up for a dining adventure, go to My Tho.