First Pho Noodle Soup Experience
How could I have gone so long without sampling Pho Noodle Soup? My daughter Heidi insisted and she did quite a bit of research to find the best authentic spot in Houston.
As most know, Houston has endless options for any kind of Asian food. On the corner of Wilcrest and Beechnut there are 4 shopping centers offering much more than food. But when it comes to pho, I will roughly estimate there were 20 Pho Restaurant options at this one corner!
Heidi made sure the restaurant choice offered spring rolls as well as pho. No better combination than wrapping cool lettuce and cilantro around hot and crispy spring rolls. The fish sauce is a good addition, if you don't sniff.
3 bonus points for spring rolls!
Mountain O Greens!
Heidi looks like she just saw a bug in her noodles. Really I think that was just a "hurry up and take the picture" pose. She was excited about her (non-pho)dish, which was more noodles and less broth. 3 bonus points for being able to personalize your dish with mint, jalapenos, lime, basil, bean sprouts and numerous sauces. Heidi gave the hoisin a thumbs up!
What is Pho? (and how do you say it?)
Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup that goes back to Hanoi in the 1920's. I found the whole experience amusing. Soup and chopsticks! I could have used a bib! But that is a good way to remember how to pronounce pho. There's a lot of fun or even a lot of funny that goes into eating Pho...pronounced more like Phu. Now if you make the mistake of saying Pho as in "fee fi fo fum", then thump yourself on the head and say, "Duh...it's Phu..."
Sort of at first. But this steamy dish became a lot more appetizing after I
"personalized" it with herbs and veggies. Then I stirred the noodles up from the bottom and things got exciting. The "well done meat" was very tender and the broth was tasty on its own.
I'll give Que Huong 5 points for food!
Que Huong was busier than this when we first entered. There were families crowding around shared dishes and pots of food. There were a few lone eaters, slurping down huge bowls of noodles as if they were racing back to work. We seemed to be the only first timers in this mostly Asian crowd. Our server didn't speak enough English to be too helpful, but she was very pleasant.
The decor was casual-festive. A few white lights on the potted palm, a couple golden Buddhas and a lively tank of goldfish. The raised area in the back had a colorful wall mural and TV. I asked our server if that area was for special entertainment. She nodded, but I'm not sure she knew what I asked.
2 bonus points for a comfortable, lively atmosphere.
So I failed a little in the People Encounter area. I have no pictures posing with owners or customers. Too busy enjoying my time with Heidi and Don (our photographer) and our GIGANTIC bowls of noodles. Let's just add 10 bonus points for enjoying a new kind of food experience with very special people!
Total of 23 Points for Que Huong!
Diane brings style and bonus points to the blog!
I have partnered with Diane on the tennis courts many times, but this was my first shared meal! 1 bonus point for adding a new friend to the dining blog, 1 bonus for Diane's fashion style at the table. (just like on the courts!) But 2 bonus points for having a friend who can order our meal in Vietnamese!
Here is a poster (taped to the door) announcing the entertainment planned for New Year's Eve at Jasmine. Diane had to translate, but there will be lots of dancing and food all reasonably priced. Diane is planning to go!
Jasmine is located on Houston's Bellaire Blvd., which already says a lot. Bellaire has miles of Asian restaurants, salons, grocers and shops. The dining crowd was fairly diverse on Friday at lunch, but there was plenty of Vietnamese being spoken at tables.
2 bonus points for Authenticity!!
We started our meal with some tea and these delicious spring rolls! They were huge and packed with fresh vegetables, shrimp and rice. The peanut sauce for dipping was perfect.
Diane's "Bun Thit Heo Nuong" was served on a bed of noodles. Diane used sort of an Asian-Italian approach with her chopsticks and spoon! She shared and it was very tasty!
I ordered "Com Bo Lui" , which is charcoal broiled beef. Fish sauce was served on the side so I could add just the right amount. And the vegetables were refreshingly sweet and sour and very crisp. I took home half!
4 points for food at Jasmine!
Interacting with others is something I used to do very rarely in restaurants. I am not a celebrity and I don't frequent the same places enough to be "known". But in doing this dining blog, I've made it a point to enjoy the people around me. If I have an opportunity to talk to other diners or staff, the outing becomes more memorable.
Well, it helps that Diane is more of a socialite than me, because she saw friends she knew. Diane's friends were delightful and there was a lot of interaction between our tables. Plus these folks know how to dress for a lunch outing! Don't they look wonderful! I'm going to pay closer attention to my wardrobe on my next food outing!
2 bonus points for a good People Encounter!
3 points for making Tin smile!
Here is Tin, our waiter! I will use the word shy or maybe serious, instead of unfriendly. He didn't spend very much time at our table, although he did return with many items that Diane requested. (napkins, clean menu etc.) Tin didn't seem too impressed when I tried to order in Vietnamese. He gave me his name, but certainly didn't need to know mine. He mostly spoke to Diane, since she speaks his language. I thought maybe he didn't understand English, but he understood me quite well when I asked to take his picture. He shook his head and shooed away my idea with his hand!
But eventually I won Tin over and got this very slight smile in our photo.
Tin really comes to life with the camera!
I think maybe I have found Tin's preferred job! Once he had the camera in his hands, (this was his idea) he was willing to spend lots of time with us. He posed us by the bamboo. Note the jazzy angle of the photo!
And then he marched Diane and me across the whole restaurant to pose by the Christmas tree! No room to share all Tin's pics. And I refuse to share the photo Tin took of me, zoomed in on my face. That one was a bit scary.
1 bonus point for burning off a few lunch calories at our photo shoot!
Grand total of 16 Points for Jasmine!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.