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0 In Beer/ Food/ Travel

Saigon, Vietnam During the Tet Holiday

Saigon, Vietnam provided us with some of the best food memories that we’ve yet to encounter in Asia.  We visited in February and were greeted with beautiful 80 degree weather in spite of the frigid temperatures we were so familiar to in Daegu, so not only were were we walking into the homestead of my favorite food, but were freed from our winter wear.  We had arrived to the city at around 4pm, and after freshening up in the wake of a 6 hour plane ride we naively set out on foot.  Our first night’s food outing was relatively underwhelming being that we were visiting during the famous Tet holiday (Lunar New Year), so nearly all of the go-to food stops were closed.

We ended up getting our first bowl of pho in the Bui Vien Market area.  It didn’t matter if we were unable to access the pinnacle of beef-noodle-soup-goodness available to us in this city, I was excited to get a bowl of pho inside of me along with some super cheap local beer ($0.80/500mL).

 

If you ever visit Saigon, a fun drinking game that we concocted was to take a drink whenever a single-patterned old lady is spotted and take two drinks whenever you see a family with children on a single motorbike (we spotted a family of 5 but weren’t fast enough on the camera); below is an example of who to look for.  While walking the streets, you’ll surely see plenty of suited up ladies, as well as full families on one motorbike.

The next day, we went on a tour with David and Amy from OneTrip where they showed us around “non-tourist” and tourist areas alike and exposed us to some amazing food!  We HIGHLY recommend going on one of these tours, as you’re only required to give them around $1, but we bought them lunch and gave them $25, which apparently goes a long way in Saigon.

We ate some amazing food, and went to the famous Saigon Central Post Office, Saigon City Hall, the Reunification Palace, the Saigon Opera House, and Saigon Notre-Dame.  You’ll notice the French architecture, which is a relic from the French occupation of Vietnam that ended in 1954.

Cơm tấm (pronounced Come Tom) is a local Saigon dish which is composed of chopped up (broken) rice with vegetables, egg and meat (usually a pork chop).  Cơm tấm is a local favorite, and from what David told us, it’s not only due to the delicious flavor.  The origin of this broken rice dish lies in Saigon’s war-torn history, when people were unable to obtain high quality ingredients, they often had to settle for discarded rice which eventually ended up becoming a staple for the local people.  Broken rice to someone in Saigon is kind of like the stews and comfort foods that were handed down to Americans from the depression era grandparents.  I have to say that I enjoyed absolutely everything that I ate in Saigon, but Cơm tấm holds up to everything in terms of taste and complexity, so I understand why this dish is still popular today.  From what I understand, Cơm tấm isn’t widely consumed outside of Vietnam, so I’m happy that we got to enjoy this little piece of the culture.

Hidden under this pile of veggies (and tomato) is a succulent pork chop and deliciously seasoned rice.

Central Post Office exterior

Central Post Office Interior

Ho Chi Minh Statue in in front of Ho Chi Minh City Hall.

At the gates of the Reunification Palace.

Saigon Opera House

Saigon Notre-Dame – The statue is of the biblical Mary, and apparently it “cried” in 2005.

We were told that these apartments are some of the oldest in the city.

 

*Potentially graphic video*

Jeff ate a balut.  It wasn’t bad at all, and tasted like a normal egg with some funk on it.

 

The following day, after gaining some confidence with the surrounding area zipping around Saigon our motorbikes, we set out on our own.

As you can see the streets are packed with motorbikes, and there aren’t many rules besides “don’t crash” which makes crossing the street rather exhilarating!  If you ever visit Saigon, and you find yourself across the street from your destination, just cross the street with one hand out and don’t be afraid to stop in the middle of the road to let more eager motorists pass and think “they don’t want to hit me, so just try not to get hit.”  In the picture above there is a wave of motorbikes heading straight towards those pedestrians, but that didn’t stop them from crossing the street!

The two photos above are examples of Buddhist areas of worship that are scattered throughout the city.  As you’ll see below, there are more extravagant areas of worship called Pagodas which are incredibly intricate and colorful.

One of the recurring views on our trip was the Saigon River, which we crossed on a daily basis to visit the heart of the city.

While wandering through the local markets we spotted some dragon fruit, which we purchased for about $0.10.  The vendor was kind enough to remove the leaves and cut it in half for us.

If you’ve never had fresh dragon fruit before, it’s a little bit tart and very mild – it was definitely a good refreshment when we got back to the apartment.

We encountered a vendor pulling a cooler full of Red Goats (made with Thailand Technology), so of course we needed to buy one. To be honest, it tasted exactly like Red Bull but without carbonation, but I’m not sure it had the same effect as Red Bull though.

Before I get to the last part of my post (beer and food) I’ve gotta share this encounter with you all.  *VOLUME WARNING*

This dragon was dancing on the stilts for some time, until it disappeared into the Skechers store.

 

We ate amazing pho every day of our trip, and I am very happy to report that Pho888 holds up to the authentic Saigon pho that I was able to find.  Not only has this trip cemented my love for Vietnamese food, but I feel completely validated in praising Pho888 for their exceptional pho.

On our last day in Saigon we found the best pho of our trip. This was at Pho Hoa Pasteur, and was only slightly better than Pho888.

Herbs for the pho

Gotta get that pho nice and red.

The above dish is bánh tráng nướng or otherwise called “vietnamese pizza.”  I can assure you that this is dish is merely similar in shape to a pizza, as I consider bánh tráng nướng as Saigon in a wrap, because it contains all of the flavors and textures that Vietnam introduced me to in a nice little quesadilla-esque presentation.  This dish consists of rice paper heated over a grill, topped with quail egg, corn, green onion, peanuts, fried onion, rice, and a variation of other toppings depending on where you are.  Every bite of this dish reminded me of every other food I ate in Vietnam until that moment.  If I hadn’t spotted a giant line of people at a food stand in a shady park, we may not have even have found this dish at all, so never be afraid to investigate popular food stands while in a foreign country!

Bánh Mì Hồng Hoa is THE place to get a bánh mì in Saigon. They sold each bánh mì for around $1.40 and they did not disappoint. I’m on record as saying that pho is my favorite food, but Bánh Mì Hồng Hoa’s sandwiches were one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Beer

East West Brewing is a taproom and brewery in Saigon that produces some fairly average beer but has a really open and Western-style space.  The beer wasn’t anything special, but it was tastier than the 80 cent lager from the streets.

The next brewery that we visited was Pasteur Street Brewing.  This place was an amazing brewery by any standard, and was of astronomical quality when compared to everything else we’ve had in Asia.

Left: Dragon Fruit Gose | Right: Jasmine IPA
Solid beer; the IPA was refreshing and hoppy while the Dragon Fruit Goze was unique and delicious.

The Cyclo Imperial Chocolate Stout was 100% as advertised, and was the most delicious chocolate stout that either of us have ever had.

Cat Tax

Happy Year of the Dog!

Next up is Tokyo!

0 In Beer/ Food/ Travel

Our Weekend in Shanghai

After deciding to move to South Korea, Jeff and I have thought about the possibilities of visiting the surrounding countries, including China. One day, while I was perusing skyscanner.com (my favorite site to find cheap flights) I found a direct flight from Daegu to Shanghai for the perfect price. On a whim, I booked it! We were going to spend a weekend in Shanghai in less than 3 weeks!

A week later, after talking to my sister-in-law, EJ, she casually asks if we have a visa to go to China…. silence…I ask her what do you mean? After a quick a google search, I find out that no matter how long the trip, you need a visa to get into China. A week later we go to Busan to get our visa, everything goes smoothly, and we’re on our way to China! ✈

Before Jeff and I go to a new city, we do a little research, pin some locations on Google Maps and create a general outline for our travels. We pinned a bunch of breweries, restaurants, tourist-spots and our Airbnb before we left.

We take a taxi from the Airport and we are trying to use google maps to find our Airbnb. It’s not showing my Google Maps, not even the map of the area is loaded. Hm.

About 30 minutes later [and after stepping in some (possibly human) poop in an alleyway, awesome] we find our Airbnb! We get on the internet and we’re trying to load google and send out a couple snapchats to friends. Nothing is working. I’m trying to get onto my Gmail and it doesn’t work. Then, I open up BING on INTERNET EXPLORER for the first time on my laptop and Bing works.

As many people might already know, China has banned everything Google. Jeff and I didn’t know this before we went and subsequently, it threw a big kink in our plans. We had not fully remembered the censorship state that China was in and forgot that Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram were all not available, unless you download a VPN,which we had not downloaded before we left.

Our Shanghai vacation turned into an unplugged vacation! We still ended up having a great time, going to some breweries, eating delicious food and seeing the famous skyline of Shanghai.

We have to give a shout out to this app called SmartShanghai, it saved our vacation after losing all of our pins on Google Maps. The app is really well designed for finding food, beer, and shopping. We highly recommend downloading it if you are going to travel to Shanghai!

Food

The first thing we had to do in Shanghai was eat and I had two things in mind: Xiao Long Bao and a Chinese noodle dish.

The first day we went to Din Tai Fung for some xiao long bao, and it was delicious. Din Tai Fung is a chain so it was a bit overpriced and it was located inside of a mall selling Gucci, and other dumb brands.

However, on our last night we were wandering the streets and came across a hole in the wall place that served xiao long bao and it was by and far better than the other place. We don’t know the name of the place but this is the general location: China, Shanghai Shi, Xuhui Qu, Yongkang Rd, 72号-74 (Across from Beer Factory)

It had the cutest decor and the only thing on the menu were different kinds of xiao long bao. It was cheaper than Din Tai Fung and a lot more flavorful! We’d recommend skipping any place that’s a brand and try to find some xiao long bao on the streets.

 

I’ve been dreaming of the above dish for years upon years which is the famous Xiao Long Bao, and as you can see, I was very excited to slurp down these little soup sacks.  These silky scalding hot pillows of delicious Chinese accuracy were one of tastiest things I’ve gotten my chopsticks on in Asia.  

Xiao long bao is usually served with a vinegary dipping sauce with some sliced ginger which is integral to the flavor profile of this bomb of deliciousness.  The way you eat xiao long bao is to dip your soup sack in the sauce, then plop it onto a  spoon and pop a hole in it with your chopstick, then eat the dumpling and chase it down with the soup that has dripped from it’s carcass.  Eat these things quickly, because you only have a few minutes of “golden temperature” which is between molten lava and not-hot-enough coffee, but overall I’ll second Mr. Bourdain’s endorsement of this delicious bit of China.  A big thumb up from me.

After we took a walk through the park, where we encountered some pretty bizarre behavior from some elderly locals (ask me to tell you “lady kicking her own ass while an old man plays aggressive air guitar next to some hedges” story sometime – it is ridiculous), we got our mouths on some delicious noodles in a back alley.  We found this place by chance, and took a gamble after spying through the window to see very cheap prices and an empty table for us to eat at.  The only way I can describe these dishes is “very Chinese” in the sense that they were rough around the edges and packed with MSG (people who think MSG is bad for you and people who think the Earth is flat are one in the same… they’re stupid) but were still pretty damn good, oh and we didn’t get sick or anything. ($6 for these 2 dishes plus a soda)

American Food

Shanghai has a lot more American food options than Korea so we were craving some good ol’ greasy goodness. We ate at Al’s Diner in the french quarter and it was quite tasty. They have burgers, poutine, pancakes, waffles, pizza and amazing icecream! Highly recommend if you are looking for some american comfort food.

Vietnamese Food

We also wanted to find some Vietnamese in the city, because Jeff’s favorite food is pho. We ventured to this “hole in the ground” that has a lot of restaurants, bars, lounges, and live music venues called Found 158. Everything at Found 158 is overpriced, but it’s an interesting place to check out.  To clarify, when I say overpriced, I mean overpriced for Shanghai. Our dinner was about $30 altogether (with wine), so that’s like a nice night out at TGI Fridays but less shitty (please choose a better place to eat than TGI Fridays, and save it for lunch with your coworkers).

We ate at the Vietnamese restaurant Cyclo. I had the pho and Caitlin had the banh mi. Caitlin was really excited to eat here because we can’t find bahn mi anywhere in Korea. It was just OK, we probably should’ve ventured out further and found a better place for Vietnamese food.  I would give you a review of their pho but it’s not worth talking about, and was a big bowl of disappointment.  Honestly, if you’re in Shanghai, try to eat local “mom n’ pop” food as much as possible because the “established” restaurants are not very good.

 

Beer

Shanghai Brewery – Donghu Location

📍Shanghai Brewery (Donghu Location)

The first place we stopped for beer was “Shanghai Brewery” which ended up being our favorite place to drink at in Shanghai.  We arrived during happy hour for half off drinks, which ended up costing us about $2.50 per beer and we got nice and sauced.  Beer in Shanghai is much like Korea’s in that it’s a little underwhelming in the flavor department unless you’re willing to spend more than 10 dollars on a glass.  Regardless, Shanghai Brewery gave us a good time and started our night well.

Beer Factory

📍Beer Factory

This place had a bunch of imports from big name breweries in the US, but none of their beer was worth the price tag. OK place, but at  65Y ~ $10 a beer, it’s not great.  If you show up before 8pm, you can get half off drinks, but I’d recommend just going to Shanghai Brewery.

Dean’s Bottle Shop

📍Dean’s Bottle Shop

We were pretty excited to go to this place because all of the reviews said Dean’s bottle shop was the place to go for beer.  November must be a bad time to visit Dean’s, because this place SUCKED.  The room was small, and when we walked in we felt unwelcome, so after perusing their dogshit beer selection we dipped out before drinking anything.  Highly recommend NOT going to this place.

Liquid Laundry

📍Liquid Laundry

The design and decor of this place is beautiful. The beers however, not so much. It was about $10 per beer and we both felt our beers tasted watered down.  I’d say if you want to get some nice Instagram pics go here, but if you want to drink beer, skip it.

World of Beer

📍World of Beer

This place was great! It’s a few blocks down from Shanghai brewery and along the way we stopped at a wine bar. We don’t know the name, and can’t find it online, but it was buy 1 glass get 1 free. We were feeling good by the time we got to World of Beer. We ordered some french fries and enjoyed some delicious beers from Kansas City! We would highly recommend going to this place.

 

Sightseeing

We stayed in the French quarter of the city where we saw a lot of European architecture. We walked all the way from the french quarter to The Bund and on our walk we noticed how many styles of architecture are used in the city. Shanghai has the most diverse architecture I’ve ever seen in one city, and a lot of buildings could be prime submissions to r/evilbuildings.

The contrast in architecture you get at The Bund is an interesting experience to say the least. To the West is an older, more European part of the city, then as you scan East, the horizon transforms into a skyline of 21st century geometry, LEDs and advertising.   At night the buildings bloom with pinks and blues, so I’d recommend visiting The Bund after dark.

We went in November and the weather was perfect.

The Bund

The Bund (which means the “Embankment”) refers to Shanghai’s famous waterfront running along the west shore of the Huangpu River, forming the eastern boundary of old downtown Shanghai. It’s an iconic cityscape and we viewed it during the sunset as well at night.

It’s better in person.

 

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

📍Science and Technology Museum

We decided to check out the Shanghai Science museum for a day as it’s one of the largest and most visited museums in China.  We got to see some pretty badly taxidermied animals, along with some pretty interesting exhibits about robots, so the museum was definitely worth our money.  We went to an IMAX movie about Shanghai’s architecture, and were so American and stupid that we forgot that the film would be in Chinese – Needless to say we didn’t learn shit.  The movie was originally made in the USA, so it was dubbed over, but for some reason even the laughter of children was dubbed over.  I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and I’m still not certain as to why the Chinese decided that American children needed to be dubbed over and replaced with Chinese children laughing.

Shopping

AP Plaza: Fake Market near the Science Museum

📍AP Plaza

After we visited the museum, we went underground for some cheap shopping at the “fake market” which is full of knock-off brands.  Of course, this is a tourist trap, but if you are comfortable negotiating you can get a good deal.  We picked up a couple of “Samsonite” carry-ons for about $40 total.  It was pretty funny because we picked out the two colors we wanted and then she literally hammered on the Samsonite logo, then looked up at us as if to ask “do you want a different brand or is this good?”  Ahhhh china.

Caitlin bought some knock-off Bose headphones for $90. We got ripped off on those for sure, as we should’ve kept bargaining with the lady. The headphones sounded great and worked well, however after 3 months of use, the headband snapped 🙁

Our shopping tip: don’t buy electronics, stick with suitcases and clothes.

Yuyuan Old Street Shopping Center

📍Yuyuan Old Street Shopping

This was our favorite place to shop. Even though it was touristy, we really enjoyed the aesthetic of this place as it shows you what the old Shanghai used to look like.  At this place you’ll find plenty of knickknacks to take back home. We ventured to this place during the night and the lights were beautiful!

There are stalls upon stalls of almost anything you’d want to take home from China. There were artisans scattered throughout the complex creating works of art for the public to see and purchase.

If you walk around this area you’ll find a lot of clothing shops as well. I picked up a nice jacket for around $30. Caitlin got a knock-off backpack for around $20.

Overall, we had a great time Shanghai!

Hopefully we’ll add another post sooner rather than later!

Vietnam is up next.

0 In Food

How to make Gimbap – The Korean Burrito

Gimbap is a classic Korean dish that consists of rice, vegetables, and meat wrapped in seaweed.

김 (GIM) = Seaweed

밥 (BAP) = Rice

We’re calling this dish ‘The Korean Burrito’ because the ingredients can be very flexible. (And well, it looks like a burrito) Choose what you like – these are the ingredients we chose for ours!

A traditional roll contains tuna and other vegetables. This recipe is pretty close to a traditional roll, with some more protein added. We learned this recipe from our sister-in-law who is from Korea. She showed us how to create the perfect roll so be sure to check out the video below to learn the steps.

We’ve been making this dish quite a bit since we moved here. Although it takes awhile to prep all of the ingredients, it makes a great lunch food. If you’re looking for a nutrious meal you can take to work that doesn’t need a microwave – gimbap is for you. One roll will leave you filled up for a whole afternoon.

You can meal prep with gimbap as well! On Sunday night, prepare 5 rolls but leave them uncut. Pre-cut rolls will last about 2 days and uncut rolls will last about 4-5 days. After that point, the gimbap is still edible, but the rice becomes a bit dry. To counter act that, you can dip the roll in some soy sauce.

We hope you give this recipe a shot! You should be able to find most ingredients at the store, however, for the pickled radish and gimbap ham, you might want to try an Asian market.

Watch the video below to see the whole tutorial and leave comments below!

Print

Gimbap (김밥)

Course Main Course
Servings 4 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 package Seaweed Wrap
  • 2 cups Sticky Rice
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 4 sticks Pickled Radish
  • 8 sticks Imitation Crab
  • 1 can Tuna
  • 2 T Mayo
  • 1/2 cup Mexican Cheese
  • 12 Lettuce Leaves
  • a sushi rolling mat

Instructions

Preparing the Sticky Rice

  1. First, you'll need to rinse the rice, which will remove the starch and give you a nice clean pot of rice without any goop. Place your dry rice inside of a bowl, and fill it with water - the water should turn almost milky. Slowly drain the water and repeat this process about 8-10 times, or until the water is clear upon pouring. Fill the bowl of rice with water again, and let it sit for 30 minutes.

    Once your 30 minutes are up, drain the water, and toss your rice into your pot along with equal parts water [(2 cups of rice -> 2 cups of water).

    Turn your burner on HIGH, and COVER. Once the water is boiling, turn your burner down to MEDIUM. Wait about five minutes, and check on your rice. If your rice looks to have absorbed all of the water, take the pot off of the heat and let it sit COVERED for five more minutes.

    Stir your rice and add the 6 cloves of minced garlic. Stir. Set the rice aside.

Other Ingredients

  1. Fry the 2 eggs in a pan and cut into 1" strips. Julienne the carrots. Sprinkle some salt on them to get the moisture out and saute them in a pan for about a minute. You want them to be soft, but not mushy. Julienne the cucumber and sprinkle some salt and set aside onto some paper towels.

    Cut your ham into long strips. If you have gimbap ham from the Asian market then they should already be cut for you, but if you are using lunch meat ham cut it into strips. Cut your crab sticks into 1/4" strips. Drain the can of tuna and mix in 2T of mayo along with garlic seasoning, or whatever you'd like.

    Lay out all of your ingredients and get ready to roll. 

Rolling Instructions

  1. Fill a bowl with water and have it next to you. Lay out your seaweed wrap with the shinier side down on top of your bamboo rolling mat. Dip your fingers in your bowl of water so the rice doesn't stick to you. Take a handful of rice, spread your rice out onto your seaweed while leaving about an inch of uncovered seaweed at the top which will be used to bind the roll together.

    1. Cheese

    2. Egg

    3. Ham

    4. Crab

    5. Carrots

    6. Cucumber

    7. Pickled Turnip

    8. Wrap the Tuna Salad in 3 leaves of lettuce - place in the roll

    (Watch the Video for more info)

    Using your thumbs to prop up the bamboo mat behind your ingredients, utilize your remaining eight fingers to squeeze your ingredients into your bamboo mat which is being supported by your thumbs. Once you have a good compression on your ingredients, hook your fingers inwards to start the roll, and let your thumbs guide the bamboo roller over the top for the home stretch. Now that the actual roll is taking shape, get your fingers out of the way and use them to hold the seaweed in its rolled position - while you're holding down the fort, use one hand to wet down your exposed seaweed that we've strategically left barren and 'glue' the gim together.

    Congratulations! If you followed these instructions, you're sitting in front of a Korean burrito.

0 In Beer/ Food

Daegu Chimac Festival 2017

Chimac is a Korean conjunction of ‘chicken’ and ‘maekju (beer)’; this festival was likely just as you’d imagine – tons of people, chicken vendors, and craft beer stands.

 

Apparently Daegu is regionally known for delicious chicken, and it’s reputation holds up!  The chicken was usually spicy or tossed in a sweet sauce, but either way it tasted great.

The chicken kabobs pictured below were probably our favorite food available at the festival, and only cost about $3.

Craft beer has just recently had it’s coming out party in the peninsula.  The high cost of ingredients had previously kept western style beers out of South Korea, but has found a consumer base in recent years.

To my surprise, one of the breweries at the festival (Galmegi Brewing) had beers that I would expect to find in the United States!  Galmegi get’s my vote for best brewery at the festival, as they are able to inject some great hoppy flavors into their IPAs, bring excellent depth to their stouts, and to my surprise, had a delightful gose that helped with the heat!

The other breweries present at the festival had IPAs on the menu along with wheat ales, and stouts which quenched my thirst for good beers!  I was so happy to get my hands on some authentic craft beer, I donned some crazy eyes for a bit, and probably creeped a few people out.

Whasoo, Farmers, and Red Rock were some other breweries at the festival that we really enjoyed!  All-in-all the festival was an awesome experience, and I’m glad I was able to get exposure to Korea’s version of tasty beer.

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=1825470

http://www.chimacfestival.com/

http://www.galmegibrewing.com/

 

 

Extra:
I had to write something about the group of protesters at this event.  They held signs that I couldn’t read and screamed words that I couldn’t understand, but everyone has a right to do what they please, and these women chose to spend their time NOT drinking beer at a beer festival.  Needless to say, their protesting was likely ineffective.

I truly don’t understand why these women aren’t wearing shoes, but I guess I kind of get the red paint… Regardless, protesting at a festival where the animals who’s rights you’re fighting for are already dead, is essentially just advocating the waste of deliciously seasoned chicken meat.

*Just making a joke, so spare me the politics*

0 In Food

Mi Patria – Ecuadorian Food in Des Moines

As is the case with Pho888Mi Patria is tucked away in an old strip mall (1410 22nd Street, West Des MoinesIA 50266), but provides the flavors and craftsmanship of a world class restaurant.  Food Network even gave Mi Patria some props by sending their resident troll to slurp down the delicious Ecuadorian food!

When you dine at this fine establishment, I recommend starting with the empanadas which are pictured below.   These things are amazing, and I implore you to find me a finer plate of fried meat-stuffed pastry.

The food at Mi Patria is finely tuned, and likely unique to anyone that hasn’t lived in or visited South America, so read the menu and pick whatever sounds good, as I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve eaten on the menu.  The best way that I can describe Ecuadorian food is a combination of really good Mexican food with some Eastern flavors tossed in, accompanied by a little something extra that I can’t quite explain.  Be wary of eating too many plantains though, because they’re extremely heavy and can fill you up before you get to the heart of your meal!

I know I said that you can peruse the menu at your leisure, but if you’re needy and are looking for a recommendation, I give you the Lomo Saltado, which is the Mi Patria twist on Carne Asada Fries that will not disappoint.  For those of you who enjoy a good pasta dish, I highly recommend the Tallarin de Pollo, which is a linguine pasta that will surely bring you to flavor town.

Mi Patria is a little slice of Ecuador off of Exit 2 on US235 in West Des Moines, and I would recommend it to anyone.  Bring a date, or your family, because either way you’ll be thanked for the experience.

0 In Food

Pho888 – Asian Cuisine in Des Moines, IA

Words cannot accurately describe my infatuation with this delightful restaurant.  Pho888 is hidden in an old strip mall next to a tiny bus stop (1521 2nd Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314, USA), but provides flavor and craftsmanship rivaling that of world class cuisine.  Without fail, I walk out of Pho888 with a full stomach accompanied by an endorphin rush to make a heroine addict jealous, because this food is absolutely spectacular.  Also, a giant bowl of pho will only run you about $10, with the rest of the menu extremely affordable as well!  Speaking of their menu, Pho888 offers Thai, Laotian, Chinese, and of course Vietnamese food.

^This is #19, which is what I order every single time.

^Vermicelli #26 – Caitlin’s favorite.

As my cousin Ben said, “Pho is unlike any other food. I don’t get it. I think they put crack in it.”  Ben is the person who exposed me to Pho888 for the first time, and I’m hoping I can have such an impact on your life as well.  Pho888 may look unbecoming at first, but their appearance matches their humility as their only goal is to provide us with amazing food.

Established in 2010.

“Our goal is to deliver the best Asian restaurant in Des Moines.” – Pho888

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pho-888/110365295720389

IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS FOR EATING PHO

I’m serious, follow these instructions when you order a bowl of pho.

  • Order #19… or #20 if you can eat way too much
  • Practice using chopsticks like an American by attempting, but failing to pick out ice cubes from your glass
  • Get excited for your food, only to watch it move past you to another table
  • Talk about how excited you are to eat pho (possibly for the first time)
  • Try to play it cool when your friend(s) say “OH! Our food’s coming out” because you’ve already been tricked once
  • Politely wait for the server to lay out all of the bowls and fixins
  • Now it’s time to prepare your pho
  • Rip up the greens [the thing you don’t recognize is culantro]
  • Toss everything from the side plate into your soup (only squeeze the lime in, discard the rind)  and stir to incorporate the goodness
  • Time for some sauce action
  • Drip a few drops of fish sauce in there… maybe four or five
  • Squirt in around a tablespoon of Hoisin sauce
  • Dollop on some sate chili sauce to taste (I do about a spoonful)
  • Make a spiral of Siracha from the outer edge to the center of the soup
  • Pepper pepper pepper
  • Mix it up
  • WAIT
  • Remove the Jalapeno
  • Take a big whiff, and talk about how pumped you are to eat this magical dish
  • Idk, take a snapfacestigram titled “LIT” with fire emojis surrounding the soup… whatever you people do these days
  • Text your friend(s) some stupid pun about how “PHOking good” this food is before you even eat it
  • Having rid your body of narcissism for the time being, cleanse yourself with the power of Eastern medicine.