Rarely do I travel to Orange County – willingly, that is – for anything other than family-related events or weddings. I know – I said “travel.” It’s just so far. But when I got invited to a Northern Vietnamese food tour, my interest was piqued. Where else to learn about Vietnamese food than in the largest and highest density of congregate Vietnamese outside of Vietnam?
We started out at Lee’s Sandwiches with a refreshing, sweet coffee and of course a bÃ¡nh mÃ¬ to start. It was a good, spicy sandwich and left my lips burning afterwards! What I like most about bÃ¡nh mÃ¬ is the combination of daikon and pickled carrots. But there was just the right amount of sweetness in this sandwich and it was easy to bite.
Afterwards, we roamed around the Vietnamese grocery store and got our education by the very knowledgable Chef Robert Danhi. We started off in the front, where they sell beef jerky and other preserved foods. The beef jerky was reminiscent of my childhood, actually, because it is much the same as Chinese beef jerky my family and others’ would commonly gift one another. It’s fuzzy, a touch spicy and has always been more favorable to my palate than the salty Pemmican ever was (the price point also reflects this). It was followed by an Americanized (read: sweet) BBQ jerky, which was tasty, and by pork sung. Pork sung – that is, shredded pork – is an interesting texture if you’re not already familiar with it. One thing I’ve always liked to do is insert a tuft of pork sung in my Pillsbury Crescent Rolls before rolling them up and popping them in the oven.