Losing my Pho Virginity to Miss Saigon

I have heard of the wonders of pho (pronounced “fuh”), hot Vietnamese beef and noodle soup, but never had the pleasure of trying it.  I thought, where am I going to get good pho in Nashville?  Luckily, my roommates took me to Miss Saigon so I could lose my pho virginity, and let me tell you: it was gooooood.  I think it’s the beginning of a long, beautiful relationship.

I was daunted–and somewhat confused–by all the choices on the menu, which led me to accidentally order a seafood pho rather than one with beef, (I can’t seem to read well when I’m hungry…), but it was the most delicious mistake I’ve ever made.  The pho had crab meat, squid, fishballs, and shrimp as well as the typical noodles.  It also came with the traditional side of bean sprouts, lime, and mint to add to the soup.  I also jazzed mine up with some chili sauce, and it was go time.  Before the pho, however, I had some shrimp and pork spring roll with peanut sauce, which were good but I’ll admit they weren’t my favorite.  However, I blame my distorted expectations and little experience with Vietnamese food rather than them.  I also had an iced coffee drink with condensed milk, which was divine.  The ambiance of the place is modern, but warm.   Seems like it would be a good date place, except that it’s hard to eat soup in a remotely attractive manner.  Although one Yelp reviewer, Michael, who wasn’t a fan of Miss Saigon, had this to say:

“Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is like pizza, in that it is like sex. There is good pho, there is great pho. There is toe-curlingly amazing pho. There is no such thing as bad ho. Slurping will still ideally be involved.”

According to Yelp reviewers, Miss Saigon has a little rivalry with another Vietnamese restaurant in the same area, Kien Giang.  I might have to settle that score. ;)

Just a couple stores down from Miss Saigon is K&S World Market, an international food market.  After dinner we decided to check it out, and it was almost as good as having dessert.  Foods I have never heard of or foods that are hard to find in mainstream supermarkets make me absolutely giddy so I practically vibrated my way through the store.  Unfortunately my camera died after only a few pictures.  They have a produce section with fruits and vegetables I’ve never heard of and they also have fresh fish and meat in the back.  Some of the fish is actually fresh, as in, still alive.  I found so many things I wanted to try.  I was thrilled that they had frozen mamey (a tropical fruit).  My grandmother used to make batidos de mamey (mamey milkshakes) out of that stuff  in Florida but we could never find it in Tennessee.  They also had these pastry cookies I love and haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

The smell of the store is odd to some people, perhaps because of the butchery, but it reminds me of the bodega my maternal grandfather had a long time ago in Union City, New Jersey.  He was a butcher and sold fresh meat in in store.  My earliest image of my grandfather are his eyes smiling from behind his rectangular Santa Claus spectacles and a very bloody once-white apron falling joyously over his bowl full of jelly.

Some unique produce at K&S World Market and a man wrangling a catfish

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