Our final meal in Honolulu turned out to be my favorite of the entire trip. From start to finish, The Pig & the Lady impressed us with its fun, fearless, and thoroughly delectable Southeast Asian-inspired fare.
Chef Andrew Le and his mother, Loan “Mama Le” Le, initially launched The Pig & The Lady as a pop-up restaurant and farmers market stand before finding a permanent home in Honolulu’s Chinatown. While Chef Le trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Mama Le is strictly self-taught. When the two collaborate in the kitchen, pure deliciousness happens.
The restaurant’s porcine theme is echoed throughout the space, from the napkin holders to the menu. The wet snouts and curly tails set a playful tone all around.
Continue reading ‘The Pig & The Lady – Honolulu’
If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, than the folks at Newport Tan Cang Seafood must be absolutely tickled about the opening of Boston Lobster.
While the restaurant’s name might lead one to expect lobster rolls served on split top buns and towers of gloriously fresh oysters, the focus here is seafood prepared with a Vietnamese-Chinese bent. From what I hear through the grapevine, a former cook from Newport opened the restaurant, hence the similar bill of fare.
The Astronomer and I, along with the Astronomer’s fabulous sister Rosalind, dropped in for dinner on a recent Friday night. While the wait at nearby Newport would’ve been painfully long, we were seated straightaway at the peak of dinner hour. Score one for Boston Lobster.
To compare apples to apples, we selected a slew of dishes that we would normally order at Newport. The clams with Thai basil ($11.95) were just as good as their Newport counterparts, brilliantly briny and fragrant from plenty of fresh herbs and garlic.
Continue reading ‘Boston Lobster – San Gabriel’
For the third year running, Chef Diep Tran spearheaded a bánh chưng making get-together in preparation for the Lunar New Year. What began as a cultural and culinary experiment of sorts, has become a beloved tradition that I eagerly anticipate each year.
Since our initial foray into bánh chưng making, Diep has continued to refine our ingredients and techniques. One element that has remained unchanged over time is the size and shape of the bánh chưng. The smaller parcels make for shorter cook times (and unparalleled adorableness).
This year, Diep made two types of pork filling—smoked belly using Red Boat fish sauce and cured bacon using Red Boat fish sauce salt.
Continue reading ‘Tết 2015: Not Your Grandma’s Bánh Chưng (Sous Vide Edition)’
While pregnant with Baby June, I spent many afternoons listening to my grandmother recall various myths and traditions regarding motherhood and babies within Vietnamese culture. Ba Ngoai has personally experienced nine pregnancies in her lifetime, so she knows a thing or two about the subject. While some Vietnamese postpartum rituals are rarely practiced in the U.S., others remain quite common.
For me, the custom of staying indoors and “roasting” by a fire (nam lua) for an entire month after giving birth seemed impractical (and a bit nuts), but baby’s one month anniversary (ngay day thang) seemed an important milestone to recognize.
From what I gather from my family (and from scouring the Internet), the purpose of ngay day thang is to prepare a feast for the mười hai bà mụ (twelve midwives). According to Vietnamese mythology and folk religion, these twelve “fairies” teach babies various prosperous traits and skills such as sucking and smiling.
My grandparents, along with my mother and great aunt, traveled from San Diego to assist with day thang preparations.
Continue reading ‘Ngày Đầy Tháng: June’s One Month Celebration’