Day 4 of the Boston 30 day ethnic food challenge starts on Dot Avenue. There among the many neon emblazed jewelry stores and bahn mi shops a man in front of a large Vietnamese grocer sells large spikey melons that give off the scent of bubble gum. These great green grenades are Jack fruit and just down the way on Adams Street Ånh Hông Restaurant will spin that fruit into divine smoothies with warm sweet black tapioca pearl. Inside families with lots of well behaved kids are all engaged with food. Noodle soups and rice paper wraps, hot pots and salads are some of the many things this tidy spot with spot on service offers. The illustrated menu begins with the 7 course beef or fish combinations for 2 people. Hot tea on a rainy day was much appreciated but Ånh Hông also has a great bottled beer selection including “33”, a fine Vietnamese lager.
In tiếng Việt language,Rau sống refers to herbs literally as “fragrant vegetables”. Vietnamese cuisine is all about herbal ingredients and Bún Bi Chả Gio, shredded roast pork, fried egg rolls and vermicelli exemplifies it with lettuce, carrots, apple, bean sprouts as well as mint basil, and “fish mint” or Diếp Cá which has unique tart notes. Some find Diếp Cá fishy in a bad way, however it can be an outstanding element that many may not have experienced. Combined in rice paper wraps with strongly flavored meats the dusky mint is aromatic, and much like cilantro but with an astringent back end.
Vietnam was a province of its northern neighbor China for 1000 years, and both French colonialists and Indian traders sowed culinary seeds here. The Bò 7món translates as “seven courses of beef”, typically served at Vietnamese Weddings, here plated for two people. A small solid fuel stove comes to the table and cooking and wrapping rice paper cuon (rolls) engages the table. At Ånh Hông it is the magnificent 7 and here’s what it includes:
1.Gỏi bò: a salad made with pickled carrot, pickled daikon, and celery salad with thin strips of raw beef round in nước mắm (fish sauce)
2.Bò Nhúng đùm: Beef fondue with vinegar sauce
3.Nhúng Bò: Raw slices of beef to be cooked in ample butter
4.Bò nướng mỡ chài: grilled ground beef rolled in pork belly fat
5.Bò lá lốt: Ground beef rolled in a Hawaiian Lot leaf (wild betelnut) (very similar to a grape leaf)
6.Bò nướng hành: Strips of beef rolled around a piece of scallion
7.Cháo Bò: Special Beef Broken Rice Congee
Most find all this beef turns out to be very light with the sweet char and herbal cooling notes and the portions are ample but not gross. Dipping in the Nước chấm sweet and sour sauce with julienne carrot and daikon threads and hints of pineapple makes fast delicious work of the feast. On the table Sriracha hot sauce, chili garlic sauce and hoisin sauce in bottles further accent the bright flavors with hot spicy and deep sweet notes. Famous local stomachs attest to the Phở noodle soups found here and there is reason alone to return to delve deeper into owner Tommy Thai’s menu.
Ånh Hông Restaurant. 291 Adams Street, Dorchester, MA 02122 617-265-8889
Day 4. (172) Time to expand the belt…equatorially.