Sunday, October 22, 2006

Review: Hale Vietnam (Kaimuki)

Hale Vietnam.
1140 12th Ave (across from American Savings Bank)

Vietnamese food has been a big trend for me recently. I just crave the hot clear soup broths and the fresh herbs in all of the dishes. Probably the first restaurant I had vietnamese food was at Hale Vietnam. Hale Vietnam (in the popular Kaimuki dining area) is always packed. Having never been to Vietnam, I can't vouch for their authenticity, but I love eating there.

Every single time I’ve been to Hale Vietnam, it’s been packed. The most recent trip we saw 2 tables of Japanese tourists, perhaps HV has made it into the tour guidebooks now. The d├ęcor is very casual.

We ordered the sour soup with vegetables, cold noodles with lemongrass chicken, and tofu with peanut sauce. Each dish had a very different flavor, but they all went well together.

*sour soup*

The sour soup is my favorite. It’s a clear broth flavored with lemongrass and galangal that is super sour. It’s a flavor totally unique to Vietnamese cuisine. Then it’s filled with veggies: taro stalk (a spongey green veggie, looks a little like zucchini), tomatoes, onions, and tofu.
*left, chicken bun. right, tofu with peanut sauce*

The tofu with peanut sauce reminded me of a Chinese dish. It had a very peanutty sauce, some onions, and was topped with cilantro. The lemongrass chicken noodles were interesting: cool rice noodles, topped with boneless lemongrass chicken stir fried with celery, and liberally sprinkled with green onions and cilantro. It came with a sweet-spicy chili sauce on the side.

Plus, the giant buddha in the front is just so cool.