Pho Horn

By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  July 30, 2008

I needed something more substantial, and bun thit nurong ($6.95) fit the bill. The sliced pork was grilled to a wonderful smokiness — beef tenderloin and chicken are other options — atop a bowl of rice vermicelli, topped with crushed peanuts, sprouts, cucumber and such, served with a sweet and vinegary “clear sauce.” It was delicious.

A second visit for a light meal pleasantly satisfied my curiosity about two items we’d considered the first time around. Of the varieties of Vietnamese fried rice, the one containing salted fish ($8.50) looked like the most interesting.

The pressed bits of brined tuna added little bursts of delicious saltiness. As well as egg, there were far more vegetables than in Chinese versions, from green beans and peas to corn ker-nels and carrots. Listed as one of the four “Horn’s Special” rural Vietnamese dishes, the Ca Hoac Thit Kho To ($10.95) was marvelous. Large chunks of salmon (we could have had catfish or pork) were clay pot-simmered with scallions and unidentifiable items, caramelized with sugar, and served with rice.

Vietnamese authenticity can especially be found with the dozen-and-a-half beverages, from sweetened soy bean milk to three varieties of limeade, one mellowed with jasmine tea. I half hope that the nuroc dura turoi description isn’t a typo: “Coconut Juice and Meat” — only $2.95. Imagining a refreshing purée of water buffalo is worth twice the price.

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