Somewhere in Chinatown there is a place. A tiny tiny place. With a big big menu. Like most Vietnamese restaurants. You could get lost in this sea of offerings that range from pho to ban xeo but there is only one reason to come here. Oooooh, it’s for the lamb baby, the lamb! And lamb in my most favorite form – curry! Yes! Lamb curry.
I don’t remember the name of the place (maybe you can make it out in the photo), but it’s behind the fish market section in Chinatown, next to the big green dumpster. It doesn’t look like it belongs there, heck it doesn’t even look like there’s enough space to operate a restaurant. Hehe. I bet the owner could get away without paying rent. It’s THAT tiny.
My dad brought our family here for lunch on Wednesday after a recommendation from a friend who spends most of his life wandering the streets of Chinatown. He’s a Laotian farmer from the Ewa side, so it’s fair to say he’s got Chinatown restaurants down to a pat.
The interior looks like the living room of a small apartment. 6 square tables with plastic covers and worn seats. A TV in the corner playing Vietnamese musicals (very entertaing!). Cans of soda and coconut juice along with soybean milk and grass jelly drink piled up in another corner. Register and kitchen to your left. Yes. There is a bathroom. I believe they share it with the fish people :)
You come here for the lamb curry and nothing else. It’s beautiful! Your choice from curry with mein, noodles or baguette (guess what, the baguettes come from Saint Germain!) And I love Saint Germain. And I love bread. So I did what I must. Soft cuts of lamb stewed until beyond tender with fantastically large chunks of onions bath in a most wonderful bath of thick spicy curry, hearty with all these wonderful flavors which I won’t bother to explain. You should just come here. Tear off a chuck of the warmed baguette and dunk it in, soak it all up. Slide apart a piece of lamb. Do it in one mouthful. You won’t regret it. Upon departure, your lips will be red and ruby moist as a result of all the heat and spice. Looks like you made out with someone for a bit too long!
Both my parents are of the “mein” (egg noodle) breed. They like to chew. I like to dip & soak. We each have our preferences. In the mein version, the curry is thinned out just a tad so you can drink it up like soup. I had half of my mom’s (I think she was on a diet) and I’ll admit, I almost liked it more than mine. The curry is still thick enough so that it clings onto the noodles, dragging up tiny cuts of chili peppers and herbs. The lamb is just as wonderful, if not more, with bites laced between spicy hot slurps of noodles. I wish I could sit here all day and eat bowl after bowl, but I splash a bit (or a lot, however you consider it) on my white shirt and it probably should be washed out. It looks like someone dumped chili on me. That’s what happens when you eat with too much gusto.
My sister. In terms of Vietnamese & Japanese cuisine, her food preferences are limited to udon and pho. That is is. As she has tried pho and udon from tons of restaurants here, she has a pretty set standard. What the standard may be, I don’t know. But she rated it mediocre.
And it looks pretty mediocre. That’s why you don’t get pho at a restaurant that looks too small to cook anything other that a great big vat of delicious curry – besides, who in their right mind would pass up curry! It’s lamb for heaven sakes :)
Somewhere in Chinatown…
I’ll try find the address!