There are many reasons why I love my husband, but one in particular is because he introduced me to Brazilian and Vietnamese cuisine. Prior to meeting him I had never tried food from these cultures and now these two countries are on the top of my culinary list. As much as I love Greek food (clearly my last three posts have been very Greek-centric) I have to say that if I ever was on death row, Pho would be my last meal.
When we first moved to Philly a friend of my husband's recommend a restaurant simply called "Vietnam." After we first ate there it was all over for us. We quickly became converts and started a weekly ritual of ordering two Phos and one mixed platter of appetizers to share. When we moved back to New York City I started jonesing for Vietnamese and the hunt began! After some trial and error, and a bit of Internet research, I found Xe Lua. Xe Lua is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC, if not my favorite, and I ritually frequent this establishment once a week.
While other's consider Saturday brunch a time for Belgian waffles and eggs Benedict, I consider it a time for green papaya salad, vegetarian spring rolls, barbecued quail and Pho. I have tried to make Pho at home, and even tried a vegan version, but it never comes out the same. Until I get the anise, clove, cinnamon and beef stock proportions right, I will continue to surrender myself to Xe Lua.
I do not want to discredit other Vietnamese restaurants, because I clearly have not tried them all, but why try any other place else when the service at Xe Lua is friendly, the atmosphere inviting and the food exceptional! I am a creature of habit and this place is a mainstay in my weekly routine. Aside from my own converts that eat frequently at Xe Lua, the restaurant is also filled with native Vietnamese. In my book that is the sign of a great restaurant and I hope you feel the same!
Below is the link to Xe Lua's website. Although I fought with idea of releasing their secret location, I finally decided that the world, and at least New York, would be a better place if more people ate at Xe Lua.
86 Mulberry Street,
New York, New York