When my family first came to America, we landed (by plane, not boat) in Falls Church, VA with the rest of the East Coast Vietnamese population. I don’t remember much of my time in Virginia but I have pictures of us in front of all of the most notable monuments. I do recall being surrounded by Vietnamese people and some Christian Caucasians who tried desperately to save our souls. I played one of the three wise men in the Nativity play. Good times, good times.
In my young immigrant mind and memory, Virginia was occupied entirely by Vietnamese. Now that I’m older I’m starting to wonder if I thought that because we spent too much time at Eden Center. I barely remember it so maybe I just made that up. Well, this past weekend I made the pilgrimage to Eden Center, like a good Viet, and was so excited to experience the Little Saigon of the U.S. East Coast.
Our first stop was Pho Xe Lua. I didn’t do my research ahead of time so I didn’t know which restaurant offered the best pho but I figured any pho in that area would be good considering it’s mostly Vietnamese people dining there. Pho Xe Lua is better than most pho places in NYC but I didn’t find it to be better than pho places that I’ve tried in Montreal, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Unfortunately, they only serve pho at Pho Xe Lua so I think they need to step it up a notch if that’s their only offering. Just sayin.
After lunch I dragged my friends to several different shops looking for Vietnamese food that I could bring home to gorge on later in the week. I don’t know how to prepare some of the more traditional Vietnamese foods that I used to enjoy when I was younger, so I have to buy it when I can find it. The stuff that I like to buy are the ones wrapped in banana leaf which I’m told isn’t too difficult to make, but I believe that wrapping food in plant leaves is a few steps above my current culinary skill level. I’ll get there, someday.
Anyway, I’m a bad blogger because I got all excited and ran around like a chicken without a head. In my mad dash to snatch up all of the banana leaf wrapped foods, I forgot to take pictures. Bad blogger. I’m still learning so I’ll get better. I tried to make up for it by taking pictures of some of the food that I brought home.
Here are more pictures of the food that I greedily snatched up and other parts of my trip that I didn’t bother to write about.
And here are a lot more pictures from our responsible and respectable blogger friend, DJ.