Hoa Sen successfully skips across Vietnam for its meals: a version of bún bò Hue as electrifying as the real thing, clay-pot casseroles sizzle with a crisped rice as great as any tahdig. And it does a fine side business in sinh to (smoothies), ranging from avocado to tamarind, each blended to a creamy, chilled consistency (and I like the touch of toasted peanuts taking the place of boba on the tamarind drink, although be careful with sucking it up your straw too fast). For the vegetarian on the go, Hoa Sen also has trays of bánh chung, the fat rice cakes especially in demand right now because of Tet; the ones here are soft and chewy, as though they are especially glutinous tamales.
The appearance of the vegetarian lemongrass chicken at Hoa Sen is limp, almost revolting: dun-colored lengths of soy shaved to the thinness of shawarma, looking more like noodles than any bird that ever flapped upon this good earth. It's part and... More »
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