January 28, 2008

Pho Van (3404 SE Hawthorne)

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Last week on Lizzy Dishes Portland, Brenda won tickets to the Decemberists concert. She was pretty excited. So excited that she wanted to take me to dinner before the concert. So, my roommate and I met Brenda and her husband Mike at Pho Van on Hawthorne. Kristin (my roommate) grew up with Brenda in Corvallis, so they go waaaaaay back. I, on the other hand, had only met Brenda once before, when I was sick and in my pajamas, so it was good to get the chance to give her a different image of me.

Determined to be a bit adventurous, I ordered the coconut drink with young coconut slices. I can't say that I loved it. Not on its own, anyway. It was better when taken in gulps after biting into one of the chicken wings carmelized in garlic pepper marinade. The chicken wings were sticky and sweet and a little bit hot. They were so good that I couldn't stop thinking about them until last night, when I attempted to make my own chicken wings, which turned out horribly greasy, and though quite tasty, did not match the Pho Van chicken wings even remotely. I am currently in a chicken-winged-out state of mind.

Brenda and Mike were quite delightful company and told us stories about bulk shopping at Winco and goint to expensive restaurants on a young-married-college-student-budget. We ordered our food - me: Bún Thịt Chả Giò (honey lemongrass pork and crispy rolls) Pork marinated in honey and lemongrass grilled over an open flame and crispy spring rolls filled with minced pork and shrimp; Kristin (and Mike): Bún gà (honey lemongrass chicken) Chicken fillets marinated in honey and lemongrass and grilled over an open flame; Brenda: one of the specials that was similar to pad thai with shrimp.

The honey lemongrass marinade thing really works - the pork in my dish was very tender and delicious. I especially loved the crispy spring rolls filled with pork and shrimp, because, well, they were fried. And I love fried. Anything. The vermicelli rice noodles were tossed with lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumbers, fried onions, pickled carrots and daikon, peanuts, and a side of nước mắm (special sauce). It was so fresh and light tasting - filling and healthy feeling.

Brenda's pad-thai-ish dish was delicious as well. And I have to say. The background music was very entertaining. While we were eating, I heard the theme from Gone with the Wind as well as the theme from Chariots of Fire.

It was a good time. And I liked the food and the company. Can't wait to hear how Brenda liked the Decemberists!

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brenda said...

That WAS fun. You are delightful company, miss Elizabeth. I'm glad we got together and hope it happens again. You make a great second impression :0)

The Decemberists show was WAY fun. I didn't feel as old and nerdy as I thought I would, because really, it was a pretty old and nerdy crowd, even in the non-drinking section. Colin Malloy could actually be captain of the old and nerdy brigade, and I mean that in the best way. He is quite the performer. It's like he wants to parody the rock-n-roll thing a little, but he can't help but be a true rocker, through and through.

And the keyboardist, holy cow. She is awesome. We had a great side-view so we could watch her magic fingers fly.

Truly a great night, and we were just happy to be out away from the kids, happy to meet you, and happy to get to know the Decemberists better. Good times.