(MANDEVILLE, La.) Viet Kitchen, located at 3415 US 190, in Mandeville, Louisiana, delivers an authentic taste of real Vietnamese food on the northshore. Vietnamese cuisine is a complex set of flavors encompassing lemongrass, ginger, Thai basil, mint, cinnamon, chili and lime in the majority of their meals. Traditional Vietnamese food stresses the use of fresh ingredients, balancing them between spices and meats (usually, steak, pork, or shrimp), creating an intricate flavor that is hard to beat.
Vietnam’s most famous dish in America is called phơ — a soup consisting of broth (beef, chicken or seafood), rice noodles, certain meats and a medley of veggies to garnish the dish — and is usually served in huge portions. The pho broth at Viet Kitchen is intricately prepared, taking almost 10 hours to make.
In my recent trip to Viet Kitchen, I did not get the phơ, even though I can tell you from experience that it is absolutely delicious. Instead, I got the Udon Noodle soup, which varies a little from phơ. The Udon Noodle soup includes a beef broth, thick udon noodles, grilled shrimp and sliced pork patties, garnished with thinly sliced green onions, sauteed shallots, and spicy Thai chillies.
The soup comes out in a huge bowl, with the thick udon noodles floating around throughout it. I crack open my chopsticks and stir around the contents of my soup and pick out and eat a piece of shrimp. The shrimp had a deep smoky flavor, as if it had been smoked rather than grilled. Next, I pick out some noodles. Udon noodles are thick, soft, chewy noodles with a neutral flavor, good for soups with strong flavors, such as this soup’s broth. The broth is easily the best part of this meal; as soon as you take a sip, the intense flavors instantly flood your mouth. The flavor combination is a interesting one that makes it hard to distinguish the individual layers. The first is a salty, beef flavor; next is a small, sweet flavor from the subtle hints of star anise and cinnamon; and last, it ends with a spicy bite from the Thai chilis. You also have to watch out for the shy amount of thinly sliced Thai chili peppers floating in the soup because they will really set your mouth on fire.
For someone who really loves Vietnamese food, this place really has above-and-beyond food. They truly deserve my rating of 9 out of 10.
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