Vinh Chau in the Springfield Xelta
PANNING FOR LEMONGRASS AND TEA
Vinh Chau Vietnamese Restaurant
409 Dickinson St
Springfield, MA 01108
According to Wikipedia: Vinh Chau (Vietnamese: Vĩnh Châu) is a district (huyện) of Soc Trang Province in the Mekong River Delta region of Vietnam. And a Delta is an alluvial deposit, often in the shape of the Greek letter “delta”, which is formed where a stream drops its debris load on entering a body of quieter water. And, again, an alluvial deposit is a place where a stream slows down and where people can go gold panning.
So it would seem to follow that the Springfield X is a Xelta as it is in the shape of an X, and is, because that’s where Vinh Chau is, where one might be able to go panning for fabulous Vietnamese food complete with mint, lemongrass and tea. Yesterday I had lunch with my sweet pal Kathy at Vinh Chau.I have tried other Vietnamese Restaurants in the area but this is the teeniest and the freshest and one place we tried actually doesn’t carry mint (I asked) and mint is rather essential to Vietnamese food according to my extensive research in the Allston area of Boston where I used to live and where Vietnamese restaurants abound.
Vinh Chau actually has fresh fortune cookies, which we couldn’t help but notice. You know how mostly the fortune cookies don’t actually taste good, especially not so much good enough to actually eat after a big meal, but you open them anyway to see what lovely little bit is tucked inside? Well the fortune cookies at Vinh Chau are not only edible, they are rather delicious with a hint of orange and a perfect crunchity crunch. I wonder how many distributors of fortune cookies there are. And if the taste and fortunes vary depending on the sensibility of the manufacturer.
There is a little place in Northampton where I used to get sushi that had the oddest and sometimes even disconcerting fortunes. And there is another place I used to eat where the food was only so-so but the fortunes were better so we’d find ourselves there once in a while. And yet another place where the fortunes seemed aimed always to allude to romance with females. Odd that.
I recommend the make-your-own Spring Rolls, under the steamed vermicelli section of the menu. You get a bowl of hot water, a stack of rice papers, and a platter of stuff including fresh mint, vermicelli, lettuce, bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts. You soak each piece of rice paper in the hot water till soft, drip dry, lay it out on your plate, load it up, and then play slippery origami. The result is your own handmade spring roll which comes with sweet fish sauce and peanut sauce for dipping delight.
I also recommend the Vietnamese salad, which we loved. If you order it with duck be sure to do so immediately upon arrival as it takes at least 20 minutes to prepare and includes an entire duck. We had it with chicken and it was the best I have ever had. It consists of shredded cabbage, cilantro, chicken and other essentials and comes with a dressing which seems to be fish sauce and rice vinegar.
The spring rolls are amazingly fresh, delicious, and are packed with mint (still can’t get over the other Vietnamese restaurant where they don’t stock mint). I can’t resist the Chicken Pho but we had ordered so much fabulous food (the portions are quite generous) that we were stuffed. So to maximize our eating out productivity, we planned ahead and put in a few orders of the Chicken Pho to go so we would have them for the next day. There is nothing quite like a Vietnamese Chicken Soup (Pho). Usually the Pho is served with a side of sprouts and basil but on our last trip (we go a lot, this being my favorite restaurant) it was served with a spikey cilantro. Be sure to squeeze that accompanying lime into the Pho – you’ll be surprised at the taste.
On our next trip we tried the tapioca shakes in melon which came with large black tapioca pearls and a straw wide enough to shoot them out of, which we were too grown up to do. For dessert we had fortune cookies and coffee, Vietnamese style, which means you get your own little press which drips into a glass submerged in hot water and with a layer of condensed milk at the bottom. Once the coffee is fully pressed into your glass you stir up the condensed milk or not, if you prefer less milk and more show.
Vinh Chau does not have a liquor license. This means you can stop en route and choose the perfect saki, plum wine or whatever you choose, to go with your meal. The service is sweet and endearing. Kim always takes great care of us, as does the other guy whose name I have yet to get. Healthy, delicious, exotic, simple, charming, fun…. I could go on and on.
And… very affordable. Tell them Mo sent you. ;-)
This entry was posted on November 25, 2008 at 6:46 am and is filed under Adventures and Interludes, FOOD & RESTAURANTS with tags Fortune Cookies, Springfield MA, Vietnamese Food, Vinh Chau Restaurant. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.