Monday, February 8, 2010

Pho & Cafe Viet Huong's Pork Chop over Broken Rice

The snow put a damper on everything. They predicted a foot and their inaccuracy ran in the direction unfavorable to the prospect of pork, at least. With my car buried, I was forced to brave the altered landscape by foot, limiting my options for food. The entire weekend had slipped by and I hadn't eaten anything relevant to my project. Tonight, I made a stop on my way home to correct this injustice. Let me note here that I was, in no manner, craving pork. It felt more like I had homework to do.

I stopped at a pho joint, an old favorite of my mom and mine. Pho & Cafe Viet Huong, or 'Green Awning Joint', as it is named in my contacts, is your typical Vietnamese restaurant, except that this one has a waiter in its employ who acknowledges me for my repeat business. I love that peppy little bastard. He was, to my chagrin, absent when I made my take-out order. Venturing into the netherpages of the food bible this establishment calls a menu, I uncovered a pork chop dish that sounded awesome. I made a decision, claimed my prize, and scampered home.

The compartments in the styrofoam box contained the pork chop over broken rice, a fried egg, a mix of tomato, cucumber, radish pickle, carrot pickle, mustard leaf pickle, a little slice of quiche, and shredded pork. I started with the grayish pink noodle-like strands of shredded pork. I wasn't into them. The musty sourness, the disagreeable flavor that I only taste in pork, was the solitary element. Coupled with the texture of partially decayed nightcrawlers, this side dish was nothing short of abominable.

I neutralized my taste buds by consuming the egg in two bites, ate a couple of pickles, and moved on to the pork chop. The char grilled chop was, thus far, the most ambiguous pork I'd had, embodying textural elements of chicken, beef, and lamb. The seasoning had been soaked into every fiber and was lemony and delicious, in a quick meal kind of way.

This plate struck me as something between two Asian standards familiar to me; the layout reminiscent of the Japanese bento box and the aroma very close to Thai Khao Man Cai, a chicken and rice dish. The meat was simply prepared and served over rice along with a couple of side dishes, the kind of thing your mom would pack you for lunch.

The brevity of my description of the main event, the pork chop, matches its impression on me. It was tasty, but scarcely memorable. Its similarity to some Thai dishes gave it a little nostalgic value to me, which would constitute the bulk of cause for a repeat.

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