You and I haven’t always been friends. I’ve put up with you, not wishing to be rude each time you’re offered up, but I’ve certainly never requested you. I’ve chewed my way through your unruly texture, fished you out of bowls of pho, and usually thought to myself “Humph, I’d rather be eating meat.”
I’ve admired your rippling, furry surface behind butchers’ cases, and always thought you looked comical, like a sea creature, or Muppet. Yes, you are the muppet of the offal world.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of cuisines around the world utilize you, and why not? You’re perfectly edible, and therefore should be consumed. I respect you tripe, but never thought I’d come to crave you.
You can therefore imagine my surprise when, at Pho Viet, I looked at the menu and thought to myself “I would like tripe in my soup.” I, Lindsay Anderson, would like tripe in my soup. It took my brain several seconds to catch up with my stomach, but then I realized it was true, and ordered #14, the Pho Tai Sach with rare steak and tripe.
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of our recent progression from mere acquaintances to genuine pals. I hope you’re not offended I called you a Muppet, and I wish you all the best.
I suppose the moral of this story is that you can teach an old dog new tricks. I believe in continually trying foods until I like them, but there’s always been a few I’d resigned myself to merely tolerating, and tripe (the stomach lining of various animals) was one of them. Maybe there’s hope for me and tendon, boiled liver, and durian after all.
My pho (small for $6.72) came out quickly; it had rich, dark broth, paper-thin slices of rare beef, and skinny cuts of tripe with their characteristic barbs, which make them look as though it was trying to defend themselves.
I’ve come to like tripe’s chewy, stubborn texture, which provides a contrast to the softer meats and noodles within a bowl of pho. The rare slices of beef were lean, tender, and cooked within seconds after their immersion in the broth.
I also ordered a grilled lemongrass chicken banh mi ($3.75), and dipped it into the broth before each bite. The grilled chicken had a wonderfully smoky flavour, but the sandwich didn’t have as many pickled elements as I would have liked – there was pickled carrot but no daikon, and that combo is usually my favourite part!
Having recently tried a preserved lemon with soda at Thai Son, I decided to order a salty plum with soda at Pho Viet ($4). I LOVED IT. It was less salty than the lemon drink, and had a subtle, tangy sweetness with plenty of fizz. If it were hot out, I’d be throwing these things back as if my survival depended on it.
The staff were friendly, the prices reasonable, and the pho was very good. There’s also plenty of seating, so you’re bound to find a table even if it’s busy.
Well, I’m happy to say I’ve conquered tripe, and wonder what food I’ll next be surprised me with a craving for. Who knows, perhaps tomorrow I’ll spring out of bed and think “If I don’t get a steamed duck foot RIGHT now……”
Vegetarian options available