Best Southeast Asian - 2009
Pho Sure; Thailand's Center Point
SarahDG: I'd say Fatty Crab, but it's way too expensive. RobtS: That's very frugal of you! SarahDG: Still, I'd like to bathe in the belacan-shot sambal, while eating the nasi lemak and being spoon-fed the assam laksa. RobtS: Sounds erotic. SarahDG: Let's forget you said that. Michael "Bao" Huynh has clearly been eating his Wheaties, what with a handful of new Baoguettes, Bar Bao, and Bia Garden, the new Vietnamese beer garden. Seems like a bit of a nutter, but he sure can cook. RobtS: You make him sound squirrelly. SarahDG: Of all his new places, Pho Sure is the best spot to experience his flair for combining zesty flavors with rich cuts of meat. Yes, the pho filled with bull penis is good, but dishes like fried chunks of rice cake with Chinese sausage and a poached duck egg are even better. RobtS: Dick pho—do you need a chaperone to eat it? I'm going to have to go with Thai restaurants this year. Aside from these slightly upscale popularizations, Vietnamese food has been moribund for years. SarahDG: You're such a snob! RobtS: Maybe, but I loved Thailand's Center Point, an obscure new Siamese joint that couples a grocery with a café. SarahDG: So you can shop while you eat? RobtS: Exactly! The sour curry and jungle curry are two atypical dishes worth checking out, both devoid of the coconut milk you might expect in Siamese curries. SarahDG: But are they spicy? RobtS: They're spicy as hell! And the pig leg over rice, aromatic with sweet spices, is another way to go. Center Point is like how Sripraphai was decades ago—small and chill, with excellent food.