Can you tell from this website that I’m eating more often? You can call it a new year’s resolution, or you can call it whatever, but you don’t have to call it gluttony! Can you tell I’m blogging more often? One of my wonderful girlfriends, ET, can take some credit for that.
Speaking of ET, she took me out for lunch, in our latest eating adventure, just the other day to Indochine Vietnamese Restaurant in Pasadena. One reason I call her wonderful is because she reminds me so much of myself, such as her love for trying out different foods/restaurants. Another reason is I’m usually harder to impress than my food mates. Yet, with her, she also matches me in the tough to impress category! But, enuf of her…give me back the controls of my blog – I am starving!
Indochine is the rare Vietnamese restaurant presently in Pasadena. Maybe just one or two others in this town. They’ve been in operation about 3 years. Each time I would walk by, they had at most one table with customers. Only once did I see them busier than that. So, I’ve never been motivated to eat here. Until now.
We walk in at 1pm. Once more, just one table of customers. We’re promptly seated. Interior is nondescript, utilitarian, basic functional. Your kitchen has more character.
I place my trust & respect for ordering in ET who has been here before and has greater experience with this cuisine. We get the Table Grill as the centerpiece of our meal, surrounded by an appetizer of Goi Cuon Spring Rolls, drinks of Vietnamese Iced Coffee & Lime Water for her with a Taro Shake for me. Dessert was to be similar to what is popularly known as a Taiwanese Slush, but here is called a Tropical Mixed Fruit or something similar, when your mind draws a blank!
Service seemed adequate and uneven depending on who is waiting on you. Either way, the wait staff was lacking much personality this day. Nevertheless, our drinks & food arrive promptly.
My Taro Shake is tasty to say the least. Sweet, but not too. It reminds me of cake. Run your imagination wild with this thought: like drinking a cake! I’m not leaving this planet without another. ET’s Vietnamese coffee? Well, let’s just say it’s the counterpoint to my shake. A sip tells me this tastes artificial, that one sip is enuf for me, and certainly no match to the coffee we had at Vietnam House in San Gabriel last year. ET tries to drink this coffee. Uhaaah!! She asks for a replacement drink of simple lime water.
Appetizers are next up. The Goi Cuon Spring Rolls are served with a light tasting peanut dip sauce, & the bean sprouts left out on the side for my “sprout loving” companion. Included inside the rice paper wrappers is mint, lettuce, shrimp, & pork. It all looks great, fresh, colorful…and for me, bland. Even the dipping sauce couldn’t help them. Six half rolls are served. I chow down only one, yet ET somehow is able to down most of the rest!
Now, introducing the main attraction – The Table Grill! This is the Vietnamese version of the Korean BBQ without all the kim chee related side dishes. So,the Vietnamese start from behind the Korean version from which they can never catch up. Basically you grill your meats, then place them in a rice paper wrap mixed with veggies & sauces. You end up eating a version of spring rolls or an Asian burrito! Grilling/cooking on your table is quick & easy. Butter is available to grease the grill as needed. We both liked the beef. And, I thought the grilled shrimp was sooo good. Having nothing to compare this with, we both thought the result tasted good.
Finally, a turn for dessert. We both agreed to get what is shown below in the expectation it would be like a Taiwanese Slush which some Asian cafes sell. As soon as we saw the Vietnamese version landing on our table in a glass, we knew our expectation had met a disappointed landing. It wasn’t bad, the fruit was nice, but I’ve known
a Taiwanese Slush (TS), shared many a TS with others, eaten a TS even on cold rainy nights, seen many a TS made right in front of my eyes, touched many a TS, and this was no NO Taiwanese Slush – but a dessert drink, yes.
Ok, so to the bottom line ‘cuz I gotta get outta here: overall our meal & service was average, OK. I’ll return only because the Vietnamese choices here in Pasadena are between slim and none. However, my Vietnamese preferences will remain in the neighboring cities. And, You? Visit it if you’ve never tried this type of food before, if you’re in the area. “Hey, what about pricing?” Oh, that’s another reason to check out other Vietnamese restaurants instead: better value. Admittedly, this place has to contend with a higher lease area than most of the others.
Onward to our next food extravaganza. Gotta run, gotta eat!