The phở craze is taking over America, but there’s much more to Vietnamese cuisine than that delicious bowl of noodle soup. We are showing you three must-eat Vietnamese dishes at some of the best, authentic restaurants in North Texas.
Our first stop is at Lá Xanh in Garland, where they are famous for their bánh xèo, which is a sizzling, savory crepe. It’s pan-fried and stuffed with shrimp, sliced pork, and beansprouts, and served with a plate of greens and herbs and fish sauce for dipping.
If you want to eat bánh xèo like a Vietnamese native, you have to use your hands. Break off a bite-sized piece of bánh xèo, place it in a piece of lettuce, top it off with some herbs, roll it up like a lettuce wrap, and dip it in the fish sauce, which gives it an umami kick. The bánh xèo is crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, yet refreshing in a way because of all the greens.
Now on to our next dish, Bún bò Huế. Known as the bold, fiery cousin to phở, the crimson red dish is a spicy beef noodle soup, and folks from all over the world come to Phở Tây Dô in Richardson just to have a taste.
From grinding the lemongrass and infusing it with chilis, ginger, and garlic for the broth, owner Lisa Nguyen makes it all from scratch. She hand picks the thick vermicelli noodles and different cuts of meat, including beef, chả -- a Vietnamese sausage -- and pork feet, which she says everybody loves!
A longtime customer agrees, saying, “It’s like mama’s cooking, so to speak. It’s got all the nutrients and the protein and the carbs and the liquids that you can just enjoy.”
And we can’t talk about Vietnamese food without mentioning the rice dishes. The cơm tấm, or broken rice dish, is feast for the eyes at Bistro B in Northeast Dallas. It’s called “broken rice” because the rice grains are smaller than usual, which Bistro B assistant manager Phuong Nguyen says makes for more flavor when you mix the rice with the meat and fish sauce.
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The traditional Vietnamese rice plate comes overflowing with at least five sides, including a savory egg loaf, shredded pork, a sunny-side up egg, and a bed of veggies and pickled cabbage. Phuong says the best part is the fried skin tofu, which is shrimp and pork mixed together wrapped with tofu skin and deep fried for crispiness.
As for the protein, there’s plenty to choose from, including Korean ribs, pork chop, roasted chicken, grilled chicken and much more.