If you think Vietnamese cuisine is all salad rolls and noodle bowls, think again. As comforting as those dishes can be, they don’t always highlight the bright, complex flavours that make Vietnamese food so interesting and delicious. Here are six interesting dishes definitely do.
Balo Vietnamese Sate Beef Sliders
Start off a meal at this popular Beltline eatery with an order of spicy sliders. Sate-spiced patties are topped with basil, tomatoes and roasted garlic aioli and make for a good two-bite appetizer to share while you wait for your main dishes to arrive.
1238 8 St. S.W., 587-353-3300, balovietnamese.com
Nho Saigon House Special Pho
A departure from the regular expectations of a big, aromatic bowl of pho, this hearty soup from Nho Saigon is full of vegetables, imitation crab, deep-fried wontons (yes, they are submerged in the broth, but trust me on this one) and prawns. It’s the perfect dish to have on a rainy day. Or a sunny day.
2111 33 Ave. S.W., 403-246-1388
Pho Tai Vietnamese Noodle Vermicelli Patties
The build-your-own salad roll platters at this restaurant in the North East is always worth the drive. Go for the full meal deal option that offers up shrimp paste, Vietnamese pork meatballs and minced beef wrapped in betel leaves alongside plenty of rice noodles, lettuce, cucumber, mint and rice paper rolls. It is definitely a hands-on, messy meal, but it’s worth doing a little laundry for.
3168 Sunridge Blvd S.E., 403-769-9401
Pure Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar Tamarind-glazed Cod
Beautifully cooked cod with a nice crispy skin that’s brushed with a sweet tamarind glaze is served up in a warm coconut broth, topped with a pomelo (the less-bitter cousin of a grapefruit) and fresh herb salad. This dish is only available on the dinner menu so make sure you swing by after 5 p.m. for a taste.
815 8 Ave. S.W., 403-475-1899, facebook.com/PureKitchenBar
Raw Bar at Hotel Arts Chili Lemongrass Tofu
Tofu is often skipped over on restaurant menus, but here at Raw Bar it shouldn’t be. Vegetarians and meat lovers alike will agree that the robust flavour and warming spice of this tofu dish hits the spot. Get some house-made Vietnamese pickles on the side to really take things over the top.
Tamarind Vietnamese Grill Sizzling Crepe
Being a 100 per cent vegan establishment, Tamarind does an impressive job of creating dynamic dishes that, meat or not, are very fulfilling and memorable. The Vietnamese crepe is just that, made up of coconut cream, rice flour and tumeric, and filled with mung bean, tofu and bean sprouts with a tangy sauce on the side for dipping.
1111 6 Ave. S.W., 403-262-6644, tamarindyyc.com