Last week, recall, I went to Sichuanese Cuisine at my favorite food corner in Seattle (12th and Jackson, in Little Saigon). This week I decided to venture to the shopping center diagonally across the street for a quick lunch at Lemongrass.
When I think quick, I think soup. Vietnamese soup is not just quick and economical, it’s also refreshing and fulfilling. There are pho joints all over the city, and more and more I’m seeing places serving bun bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup (with blood cakes—yum!) which I enjoy and will report on another time. But of the fifteen noodle soups on the Lemongrass menu, I’m drawn to the mi Quang, from the Quang Nam province of central Vietnam.
This, by the way, is what makes Lemongrass special. Lemongrass has another outpost a little further north on 12th, but the Little Saigon location serves more home-style, regional dishes in deference to the local Vietnamese community. I recommend you take advantage of that. I’m anxious to try their bun bo Hue, banh beo chen (little rice cakes topped with ground shrimp and green onions, dipped in spicy fish sauce), and the irresistibly named Fire Pot.
But back to the mi Quang, which will set you back a mere $5.95. This bowl contains yellow rice noodles, shrimp, pork, fish cakes, onions, cilantro, and crushed peanuts in an orangey broth—and is topped by rice crackers. As with pho, the soup comes with a separate plate of add-ins: herbs like banana blossoms and rau ram, bean sprouts, shredded lettuce, jalapeno, and lime. I throw it all in and mix well, as the soup takes on flavors fabulously. Then eat and enjoy. This is a complex soup, with varying tastes and textures. Quick to the table, but I recommend taking time to contemplate the complexity, and to appreciate that we have the chance to choose dishes like this in Seattle.
Originally posted at Examiner on July 8, 2008.