Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vietnam Palace

Vietnam Palace on Somerset

After reading Jeff Alford and finding that the chinese restaurants have priced themselves out of the Ottawa market, I thought I would try some Vietnamese restaurants that serve non street food…..

There used to be a Pacific Village many years ago, which folded, that had decent dishes outside of your noodles, wraps and rice dishes, but they gave it up, the matriarch who was the chef/cook retired… I still see gramps walking along the canal on the odd occasion….. I eventually migrated to New Mei Fung…. which had moved from Somerset to its expanded location on Booth. Apparently…. and I haven’t been back since they raised their prices in 2004 and 2006,… the restaurant has a new owner… so the cook/chef, also the mother… though much younger than the one at PacVi, is also gone… so…. the food…. I don’t know….

Anyway, the point is that with the Alford book exciting my taste buds and the price of chinese dishes rising… I thought I would give Viet Palace a try… Had been there once several years ago for beef brisket noodle soup… to try their viet green papaya salad and sweet and spicy fish…..

The restaurant has a full menu, but does not have great tasting food, but it is more classy than the usual viet pho place and they have interesting presentations. Tried the green papaya salad with shrimp, which was ok… didn’t know they had a more traditional one in the vegan section with no shrimps (there were no shrimps in mine either, think they were the small dried shrimps chopped up….) and their curried lamb with coconut milk… which was actually quite nice. Lunch for one with no alcohol came to $25. About average for this kind of meal these days. I have to go back and try their sweet and spicy viet style fish… and probably their quail and jackfruit and other exotic things….. Expect dinner would be in the same price range….

Sort of like a Yangtze of viet food…. Would definitely go back if it wasn’t eating just for one…. It would also take me a lifetime to go through their menu like the one at Yangtze… so….

2008 08 26...

Vietnamese are secretive people... think I said this elsewhere on the blog... but the more I know the more I feel this way..... maybe it's the immigrants on project 2000 and their children.... or it's the nature of their land... don't know...

anyway, went back to this place for a full meal, albeit at lunch time... had their ‘ca kho tieu’... or ca kho to’ on their menu... item 120 I think, which is their sweet and spicy fish.... on the menu it says special sauce, so ask for it in viet.... it was fabulous... best stew hot pot fish I have ever had.... don't know if it's as they make it in viet, but heck it was well done at this place…. had their papaya salad from their veggie section and honestly I couldn’t tell the difference between this one and the one with shrimp... ok to so so..... this plus rice and beers, came to $45 all in.... not bad for a stuffing good traditional viet meal..... you be the judge and check it out... it has a full menu and well, is pretty ok as a viet place to eat… the cooks can cook... not great, but can cook.... and if you ask for the specialties cooked in the traditional ways... you might get lucky... like Yangtze....

tried their ‘thit bo kho’ here 5 years ago on the recommendation of the matriarch at Pho Bo Ga and it was again pretty good.... middling, not as good as Pacific Village was... but don't know where to get this beef stew noodle dish anywhere in Ottawa these days.... they don't make it any more, either because it has be made in bulk, the beef stew part... and portioned out... or there is no demand… shame Ottawa… And they also used to make banh xeo... a viet crepe, but no more and ‘muoc tuoi’, squid with ginger and garlic... hot version... which is also not made any more.... so if interested... let me know where we can get this stuff that seems to have disappear once again into the Ottawa underbelly of food in-appreciation... or 'ottawa non foodies dot com'....

had drinks... so price doubles.... theory still works....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chef at Chez Eric

Hi, Andrew.

I re-read DesB’s article.

The chef at Eric’s is Che Chartrand and is not the same chef I am thinking about. Chartrand was probably just a cook at Beckta’s and Par’fyum learning from the master. The chef I was thinking of is Stephen Vardy… bit of a rogue and renegade he was one of the most creative and capable young chefs to have been working in Ottawa…. Believe he has left for Toronto. Vardy was the first chef at Beckta’s, which is run very well by Stephen Beckta and spouse, but knows little about great cooking and genius. He is a wine grad from Algonquin. Anyways, the story is that Vardy was what made Beckta’s great, from just very good… Unfortunately Vardy has a bit of an attitude problem… being the genius that he is… so he left and moved around, from Kinki, to learn and create new sushi… a lot of the new style sushi started here, with mayo etc….. then to Par’fyum and then to Whalebone…. But believe he has left there as well.

There are websites that track famous chefs….. and Vardy was one of the 5-10 real chefs in Ottawa. Most of who now work for hotel or museum restaurants… probably easier money…. Laurier at Civilization, Blackburn at Brookstreet… you get the picture.

Based on Des B’s review of Eric’s, I wouldn’t even bother to visit. Appears the only thing Chartrand can do is cure duck which is really just not cooking, it is made before hand and can be done at home at much less… (Terrine also mentioned, is a pre-prepared food…) And to drive so far…. it’s like that fish and chips place that Bill and I came up to visit when you bought your TT… so so….

There is another vegan place I visited when I was up there visiting Lynda, my Wakefield friend… called Soup’Herbe… the soup was good, but the service was uptight and it’s way out of town!