Oh Mai: Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen! A Mouth-Watering Encore.

Since I first drove past this restaurant two months ago, I have been excited to eat there. This past Friday was my chance. Having eaten a Vietnamese sandwich at the Eden Village in Washington DC this Summer, I knew that it could be a great experience.

As you turn in to the parking lot off of State St. you find that it’s not a parking lot but more of a driveway. It’s an old converted bungalow home with a few parking spots in back but most people line up on the side of the driveway. Much of the character has remained in the building and adds to the experience.

While waiting in line and reading the menu, you get hit with price shock. Not shock at high prices, but low. The Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich) section of the menu has prices ranging from $3.98 for the Bi (Shredded Pork) up to $5.28 for a Bo Dai Han (Spicy Beef Short Rib). You immediately wonder if you need two sandwiches but then see them coming out of the kitchen and realize that you will be fine with one.

I ordered the Bo Dai Han Sandwich; not because I read the ingredients but because of the name. After ordering, I did read the ingredients and was excited: Kim chee, ginger, oiled scallions, cucumber, cilantro, siracha, and garlic-chili fish dressing. Sounds like an interesting combination.

The verdict: It’s Good, and has some fire with the siracha. The Kim chee, ginger, scallions, cucumber and cilantro adds a lot of freshness to the sandwich. The beef is crispy (I wonder if there is a little batter on it) and delicious. Rib meat is fabulous. All the Banh Mi are served on a 8″ baguette. These baguettes are baked to perfection with a soft inside and a crunchy exterior. Is it as good a sandwich as Caputo’s or Gandolfo’s? They are in totally different classes.

Sous Chef Jesse enjoyed his Dac Biet (Original) sandwich. It has steamed pork roll, jambon ham, pork head cheese, garlic-butter, pork pate, mayo, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots & daikon, salt & pepper, and jalapeno. He especially liked the daikon. My friend ordered the Dau Hu Xao Xa (Lemongrass Bean Curd) and also loved it.

Sous Chef Jesse with his Dac Biet

You have to admire those brave souls who open a restaurant. I was assisting a Chef this week who owned his own restaurants for 15 years. He spoke of the long hours and often low pay. He frankly burned himself out. The workers at Oh Mai certainly have passion and are very enthusiastic about their restaurant. Just last night I told three people how wonderful the food is and that I can’t wait to get back. Give them a try.

Oh Mai
3425 South State Street
South Salt Lake, Utah, 84115

Happy Eating

Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The Top Burgers in Salt Lake City!

Scaddy's Burger

How about a nice juicy, cheesy burger with a basket of fries? Could this be all our guilty pleasures? When the stress of the day compounds, isn’t an escape to place with incredibly unhealthy food exactly what you need to lift your spirits? Maybe not for all of us, but I know for me that there is incredible comfort in a burger & fries. So much so that I have spent amble time & resources in the hunt for a delectable combination.

Here are the top 6, in no particular order (except one):

HABIT BURGER GRILL

SCADDY’S

TONY BURGERS

BETTER BURGER TRUCK

GUZZI’S

And Number 1 on the list of Top Burgers:

BURGER BAR in Roy, Utah. This is a mountain of delicious food. Something you would expect to find on the side of the highway in a roadside stand. In all actuality, this is exactly what Burger Bar is. Since 1956, this has been an Institution in Northern Utah.

Just this week, I ate a burger that will soon be on this list; review coming soon.

Now the only question is, at which place shall I meet you for lunch today?

Happy Eating.

Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Good Dog: Gourmet Hot Dogs in Downtown Salt Lake

Good Dog

A dog shop opened in downtown Salt Lake City earlier this year—not a pet store, but a place to satisfy your cravings for gourmet hot dogs. Whether the desire for this American food classic comes at noon or midnight, Good Dog will not disappoint. The Doggy Deal includes one “top dog,” house chips and a drink for $6.75 ($9.75 for two dogs).

With 14 “top dog” choices, you will wonder how you can limit your intake. Good Dog really swings for the fences with the Chicago dog. It’s a Nathan’s Famous Kosher dog with sport peppers, neon relish, green onion, tomato, pickle wedge, mustard and celery salt. It’s sweet and mouth-puckeringly spicy at the same time.  

Please check out the article:

Good Dog: Downtown Hot Dogs in Downtown Salt Lake

Happy Eating

Caprese Salad: Where have you been all my life?

Caprese Salad

Yes, this recipe is simple. And it is something that I have never made before. Oh all the lost time.

A good friend gave us some tomatoes from her garden. I already had a bunch of basil from my brother’s garden so it was time for the Caprese creation.

Caprese Salad

2 Beauty Tomatoes, sliced (Beauty is a Noun here not an adjective. It’s an Heirloom variety).
Fresh Sliced Mozzarella, sliced
Basil Leaves
Olive Oil, to drizzle
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Stack sliced Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil Leaves together. Drizzle with Olive Oil. Salt & Pepper to taste.

To make this extra special, get a loaf of Italian Round Bread. Slice it up, drizzle with Olive Oil and broil for 3 minutes. Place the Caprese on top and enjoy. It reminded me of Panzanella: Tuscan Bread Salad.

This was meant to be an appetizer; but we made it a meal for dinner one evening, and a lunch two days later. What a fresh end to summer.

Happy Eating.

The Top Ten. I’m ready for 10 More.

After a couple years of food writing, these were my top 10 in and around the Salt Lake area. I’m now ready for 10 more! Any suggestions?

Best Restaurants in Salt Lake City - Pig in a Jelly Jar
Kitchen Sink Frittata at Pig in a Jelly Jar

Or at least the 10 of the Best Restaurants in Salt Lake City that I have been to. There is no real categorization to the list, just delicious food. Some would be considered dives, others very nice; one simply a food truck while another serves just breakfast and lunch. At one you can enjoy a lunch buffet and another watch a movie while you eat. They are all fabulous and just may be the best part of your day.

Penny Ann’s Cafe: This quaint Cafe is open for breakfast & lunch. Might I recommend the Pot of Gold and whatever you get, be sure to include the Heavenly Hot Cakes. Any meal here will leave you full for 24 hours; just in time to return.

The Better Burger Truck: During the winter, this culinary vehicle goes into hiding. Taste buds far & wide are alerted when Spring has arrived along with the aromas from the Better Burger Truck. All the beef is grass-fed and delicious. Chase your burger with sweet potato fries and a shake made with Farr’s ice cream.

The Kathmandu: There is not a bad dish in the lunch buffet at this Indian & Nepali Restaurant. All you want for under $11 but beware, it’s known to be habit forming.

Pawit’s Royale Thai: I found this Thai restaurant on my journey for Tom Yum perfection. I found it here and truly have woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat craving food from Pawit’s Royale.

Pig in a Jelly Jar: My first foray into Chicken and Waffles. What a wonderful adventure that was. You could drink the maple syrup; and I did just that. Their Three-Egg Frittatas are also incredibly delicious. Try the Kitchen Sink.

La Cai Noodle House: The Pho is the shining pillar at this Vietnamese Restaurant. It’s good but don’t overlook the Bun: Vermicelli noodles with charbroiled beef or pork served with a delicious egg roll. On the side, they serve it with a Vietnamese Vinagrette that could make your shoe taste good. I often find myself in the car while it drives itself to La Cai Noodle House.

Halfway there on the list of the best restaurants in Salt Lake. And here is another 5:

Enchiladas at Stella Grill
Enchiladas at Stella Grill

Stella Grill: About 2-3 times a week, I drive past this restaurant. Each time I would tell myself that I would eat there soon. All those “next times” added up to over 3 years. It was time to go and I sure found out what I was missing. Try the enchiladas; they are enhanced with chocolate.

Feldman’s Deli: When you hear the term “Sloppy Joe,” you immediately think of that relative who can’t cook and therefore manwich is what fills their cupboard. But how about a Sloppy Joe that is stuffed with pastrami, corned beef, topped with cole slaw & thousand island on rye? It’s so big that you can have it for lunch and dinner.

Brewvies: We often eat in front of a movie-at home on our couch. If we want to go to a movie, we either smuggle food in or use our kid’s college savings at the concession stand. At Brewvies, you can eat delicious homemade food while you watch a great movie. Their “Teasers” menu can be a meal in itself. How about some slow roasted pulled pork nachos? The pork has been roasting all night.

Taqueria 27: Isn’t a taco bar where you go to the nearest neighborhood taco cart and order  1 of each? Not quite! Taqueria 27 is a taco bar with 9 styles of tacos including the taco of the day. Don’t forget the Queso Fundido but honestly, you had me at 5 types of Guacamole.

What do you think? Are these some of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City? What are your favorites?

Happy Eating
Pig & a Jelly Jar on Urbanspoon

Bean Thread Noodles with Pickled Vegetables

About a year ago, my sweet Sister-in-Law gave me a year’s subscription to Bon Appetit magazine as a gift. By reading this magazine, I have been around the world many times from the comfort of my own living room. From the Adalusia region of Spain to Shanghai China to Africa and beyond, I have begun a quest to eat the world’s cuisine. What an adventure it has been so far.

Here is one of the great Asian dish recipes that leaped off the pages:

Bean Thread Noodles

BEAN THREAD NOODLES WITH PICKLED VEGETABLES

6 oz. wide bean thread noodles
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large daikon, julienned
1 English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled, julienned
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup torn fresh cilantro, divided
3/4 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped, divided.

Place noodles in a large bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let noodles soak until tender but not mushy, 20 minutes; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well. 

Whisk garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, ginger and pepper in another large bowl. Add daikon, cucumber and carrots; toss to combine. Let sit 10 minutes.

Add noodles, oil, half of cilantro and half of peanuts to bowl; toss to combine. Top salad with remaining cilantro and peanuts.

There were some great personal lessons here for me. The first is that I get distracted easily which led me to not buying a daikon. I was at the Asian grocery store here in Salt Lake but forgot to buy one. Having lived in Southeast Asia, I was in complete nostalgia at the store. The chili garlic sauce, noodles, juices and other delights all commanded my attention. Due to that, I did not include daikon in the dish.

The other lesson was that I am sometimes in such a rush to get to things that I scan instead of read. While grating ginger into the marinade, I began thinking that 2 Tablespoons was a lot of ginger. Going back and actually reading (rather than scanning) the ingredients, I saw that it was 2 Teaspoons of ginger, not 2 Tablespoons.

The dish was wonderful. The marinade has a bitter flavor but not enough to overwhelm. It’s just enough that when it touches your tongue, the glands on the side of your mouth begin to water, craving more. Bean thread noodles are a clear glass noodle without a lot of flavor. The marinade does a beautiful job of flavoring those throughout. It reminded me of the Vietnamese Vinaigrette at La Cai Noodle House.

The veggies and herbs make it the epitome of freshness. This can be a great side or main dish.

Thank you Bon Appetit.

Happy Eating

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