Pho Grand Vietnamese in St. Louis

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Growing up in Midwestern Illinois, my family’s idea of Asian food was La Choy out of a can with Uncle Ben’s rice. As a teen, my tastes adapted to Chinese takeout and food court cuisine. Even after I began dating my eventual wife, a native of the Philippines, I still did not know real Asian cuisine.

Shortly after settling in St. Louis, we began frequenting the local restaurants. I can’t remember the first time we ate at Pho Grand, but I remember my life changing for the better with my first experience of Vietnamese cuisine.

We recently dined at the south St. Louis landmark for the fourth time. The food, service and ambiance are as mind-blowingly good now as they were on our first visit.

Pho Grand has a very extensive menu

Pho Grand has a very extensive menu

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Fried Tofu with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Fried Tofu with Peanut Dipping Sauce

These Crispy Chicken Wings were sticky, pungent and delicious with the flavors of fish sauce and garlic.

These Crispy Chicken Wings were sticky, pungent and delicious with the flavors of fish sauce and garlic.

Lettuce Wraps with tender pork

Lettuce Wraps with tender pork

The Cari Hao, or Scallops with Curry and Coconut Milk

The Cari Hao, or Scallops with Curry and Coconut Milk

Com Tam Bi Suon Cha, or Crushed Rice with Pork Chop and Eggcake

Com Tam Bi Suon Cha, or Crushed Rice with Pork Chop and Eggcake

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I cannot wait for my next visit to Pho Grand Vietnamese Restaurant

Pho Grand is located at 3195 South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis. They are open Sunday and Monday from 11:00 to 9:30; closed on Tuesday; open Wednesday and Thursday 11:00 to 9:30; and open Friday and Saturday 11:00 to 10:30.

http://www.phogrand.com/

Pork Chops with Cornbread Pecan Dressing and Apple Cider Glaze

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We ushered in the fall season on Sunday afternoon with this amazing lunch. I baked homemade cornbread on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, I crumbled the bread and toasted it at 350 for 18 minutes. Then I sweated a chopped onion in butter, added celery and bell pepper, and added the cornbread, chopped sage, fresh flat-leaf parsley and homemade chicken stock. I toasted chopped pecans, added it to the simmering mixture and then transferred everything to a casserole.

In the same skillet, I heated olive oil, seasoned thick-cut pork chops with salt and pepper, and seared over medium-high heat for about seven minutes per side. I then placed the chops over the dressing and baked the entire dish at 375 for 15 minutes. While the casserole was in the oven, I wiped the oil out of the skillet and heated it over moderately high heat. I then added a cup of apple cider and deglazed the pan, scraping up all of the “yum-yums”.

Once the cider was reduced by half, I added another cup of stock and a cornstarch slurry. I simmered until reduced and thickened to a glaze. Once the chops and dressing were finished, I topped with the glaze.

This dish was amazing. If this is a precursor to the cold-weather season, we have a wonderful Autumn to look forward to.

Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon Salad

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This recipe was adapted from the August issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/vietnamese-pork-chops-with-pickled-watermelon

This was the first time I have pickled watermelon. I can’t say I was a big fan. The flavors were a little overwhelming. Too much vinegar, I think. Anyway, the pork was delicious. I went against the traditional “purist” way and used my gas grill. I think the Grill Gods were forgive me, because I got a near-perfect char on the pork and the overnight marinade gave it great flavor. The flash-fried shallot on top may have been the best part!

Happy cooking and eating! 

Rigatoni with Spicy Pork Ragu

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This is perfect food for a cold, snowy day. I cooked this last year around the same time. The recipe is from the February 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. The Ragu includes ground pork, hot Italian sausage, pureed tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, (lots of) garlic, tomato paste, Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley. It cooks for four hours. Anything that cooks that long on a cold February day has got to be good.

Asabi Bistro Sushi Bar and Grill

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Asabi Bistro Sushi Bar and Grill is a collaboration of multiple Asian cuisines. With a focus on their sushi bar, they present beautiful, fresh ingredients on a bevy of contemporary dishes in an appealing aesthetically-pleasing dining room. Menu items include tempura’s, stir-fry‘s, fried-rice, curries and Pad Thais. Everything we sampled on our visit was delicious.

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We started with Seaweed Salad and Miso Soup. Both were fresh and wonderful. Hot and cold contrasts to start a meal. We followed that with Pork Lettuce Wraps and Shrimp Tempura. These were likewise wonderful. The only negative of the meal was when we realized that the wraps were missing the crispy fried rice noodles ubiquitous with lettuce wraps and were clearly stated on the menu. The crunch of the noodles would have been welcome with the well-seasoned pork and crispy lettuce.

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I tried only two of the sushi options. My stomach is only so big. I had the Spicy Tuna and the Vegetable. Both were great tasting, but the presentation is what set these apart. Rolled like a flower bouquet, not only were they almost too pretty to eat, but the size makes them a great value as well. I anticipate a return visit so I can make a meal out of the sushi alone.

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We finished with some generous entrees. Pork-Fried Rice and Char Tofu with Pork. Yes, I know, we tried too much pork. But it is Asian Cuisine after all, and pork rules! Both these dishes were delicious as well. The tofu was crispy on the exterior and creamy on the interior, as good tofu should be. The rice was well-seasoned with soy and garlic. The meats in both dishes were cooked well, nice and crispy; a great compliment to the rest of the dish.

Asabi Bistro very well may be the most underrated Asian restaurant in all the St. Louis metro area. I have not seen it listed in any directories, nor have I seen any reviews on the establishment. Hopefully this post will open some eyes and generate some traffic.

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Asabi Bistro Sushi Bar and Grill is located at 1325 Lake St. Louis Blvd. in Lake St. Louis, Missouri. They are open from 11-9 on Monday-Thursday and 11-10 on Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Sundays.