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The family that runs the kitchen originally hails from Ha Tien, a small border town at the headwaters of the Mekong Delta, best known for being the jumping-off point for secret Cambodia incursions made by the CIA during the Vietnam War. A good deal of the menu is dedicated to South Vietnamese favorites: com tam, broken nubs of steamed rice paired with things like coconut milk-glazed pork chops; and hu tieu, a wide egg noodle cribbed from Chinese cuisine. A less advertised special is hu tieu soup, brimming with slices of deer meat and an oily paste made from crushed chiles. There's also something called bun nuoc ken, a strangely compelling bowl of vermicelli heaped with a mixture of minced catfish, curry powder and coconut milk, sort of like an Asian riff on tuna noodle casserole.
When it comes to Vietnamese pho, the broth is often light and delicate, clarified like a proper French consommé. But bun mam, a soup that hails from the swampy southern provinces of Vietnam, is very different — call it the Mr. Hyde to pho's Dr.... More »
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