Last week, I had the pleasure to attend the first of many Saigon Summers popups that Chef Helen (@miss_hailan) has been organizing in New York City. While she’s worked at some of New York’s best and well-known restaurants, Helen has a passion for sharing Vietnamese food; this dinner allowed her to share this love with friends and strangers alike.
For this dinner, Helen brought in friends from all over the US to collaborate. She brought in Chefs and friends from Las Vegas, Seattle, and San Diego for an epic Vietnamese collaboration dinner. I especially appreciated how your “typical” Vietnamese foods like pho and banh mi were not on the menu. I don’t know much about Vietnamese food, but this dinner really opened my eyes to the delicious flavors and textures of Vietnam. I really need to learn more.
This first dish, bo tai chanh, was simply amazing. Tender beef eye round, watercress, fried shallots, peanuts, lime vinaigrette. Holy crap this was good—and it set the stage for the rest of the dinner.
A lotus root salad (goi ngo sen) was next. Loved the bright flavors and the textural contrast with the cracker.
Baby clams with sesame rice crackers (hen xuc banh trang) were next.
Banh beo, steamed rice cake, was next.
Bo Kho, braised short ribs, rounded up the savory dishes. And this was just comfort in a bowl, much akin to a hearty beef stew.
And dessert was che suong sa hat luu, a tapioca dessert. I could have had like ten more of these… they were that awesome.
The talented chefs:
Anyways, Chef Helen is continuing to do popups in NYC so definitely follow her instagram (@miss_hailan) to keep up on any new popups. Plus she’s just a kind and awesome person and someone I respect very much—she’s hustling really hard to open a Vietnamese restaurant in LIC soon. It’s going to be good.