NYC’s Home for All Things Pho || Eat Seeker: Di An Di

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– [Dennis] When we were
spitballing ideas for Di An Di, we thought, you know,
there’s all this love and care and attention for ramen, how come we can’t apply that same love and care that you’ve
seen other cultures do with their soups, to the large
catalog of Vietnamese soups? – [Tuan] What we’re trying to do here is really take Vietnamese food
to that next level where the dishes here are from
where we grew up eating and then also where we traveled. The menu is the latest
of Vietnamese cuisine. We just wanna duplicate and
basically share to New Yorkers. Dennis growing up in Houston and myself growing up in Virginia, there was a large Vietnamese community. – I didn’t realize how lucky we were to grow up in these large
Vietnamese populations. Growing up, I really took it for granted, having the access to all these
great Vietnamese products and all these great
Vietnamese restaurants. So moving here and being
exposed to a community that doesn’t have a large
Vietnamese population made me really miss home. We were really fortunate to have a lot of these Vietnamese restaurants that specialize in one particular
soup or one particular dish. We were just spoiled rotten by how delicious some of
these restaurants were just because when you’re able
to specialize in one thing you can really pour all
your heart and soul into it. There’s a particular shop in Hanoi that’s doing a particular style of pho that none of us had
really experienced before. It’s cramped quarters,
there’s no service really. You kinda have to bring your
own bowl to your own table and try to find your own seat. It’s worth the trip, worth
the effort to eat there. It really is one of the
most delicious things I ate. – [Tuan] A memorable experience, for sure. – [Dennis] And it was just
such a delicious bowl of pho, it’s something unique
that I had not seen before, and I knew that we had to bring that back. – I’m getting hungry just
listening to Dennis talk about it. – [Dennis] It’s the
same structure of a pho. You know, it’s still a
really flavorful beef broth. You know, rice noodles, but
they take the added step of wok-searing their
beef to add a little bit of richness to the soup,
so I kind of relate it to like a Japanese tonkotsu,
but the broth is very light. They do this interesting thing where they cut their scallions on a sharp bias, which allows you to pick
it up with your chopstick. That way you get, kind of, the crunch. They drop a poached egg in there, so you break the egg and that adds a lot more richness to it as well. Fresh-cracked black pepper,
which I wasn’t really accustomed to eating in pho either, and that’s something that we’d picked up, and we try to do to all our soups. Just those little touches,
were really unique to me. And I knew that we wanted to bring back all that attention and
detail that we experienced. – And I haven’t seen that
iteration in the States, I believe we’re one of the first ones to do the Pho Thin Ha Noi. – [Dennis] There’s, like, lots of dry noodle soups in Vietnamese cuisine. The first time I was exposed to it was you know, growing up
in Houston, there’s a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Ga Somo, but they specialize in chicken pho only, and on the menu they have
a dry style of chicken pho, which is just a chicken pho, but they add a sauce and
they dress the noodles, so it’s almost kind of like a pasta. And you get a cup of really delicious chicken broth on the
side, and there’s really no right or wrong way to eat it. You can pour a little of the soup inside the bowl if you’d like, and kind of eat it like
a traditional soup. – [Tuan] The first time I had
it, for me, it was an epiphany. Houston is like 100 degrees
during the summertime, and I still crave noodles and pho, so this was like the best of both worlds, where I could have that dish,
with my soup on the side. – [Dennis] So with any of these sauces that are rooted in
tradition, it’s very hard to get somebody to tell you what it is, so ours is very non-traditional, but I think very equally as delicious. We use some jasmine tea
to add a little bit of just lightness and fragrance to it, a lot of dried shrimp, a lot of chili, and it’s more of, like a paste than a sauce, that we coat our noodles in. It’s very reminiscent of the
stuff that I ate at home, but it is its own unique dish. And I can’t take credit for it either, one of my chefs came up with it, so. Our name’s on the menu, but it was his creation, not mine. Rice paper, just being one
of those staple ingredients that every Vietnamese household has, it’s something you eat
on a pretty regular basis. One dish we do a grilled rice
paper which we put on a grill, and we kind of make like a
pizza, or a quesadilla with it, and it gets topped with
egg, ground pork, scallions, hot sauce, and some pickled
serranos, and it ends up looking like a pizza, it’s
a really beautiful dish. It’s something that is
kind of a street snack that we saw kids eating after school, or after they went to see a movie. It’s always sold out on the streets. Didn’t really see it in restaurants ever. – [Tuan] It originated in Da Lat, which is like a central region. – [Dennis] And you know we serve it here on a really beautiful dish with some scissors for guests to
cut up, which is really fun, but in Vietnam it’s something
that you just grab on the go, you fold it up, kind of like
a taco, and you just eat, and it’s really really
tasty, really really crispy, you get all, like the fat
from the egg in there, and then whatever meat’s in there. But that’s one application
of the rice paper. The other rice paper is using it fresh, where it’s just dipped in water, and used as like a summer
roll, which I think most people are accustomed to here, and that’s taking our banh xeo, which is like a turmeric rice crepe, adding a grilled sausage,
which is a nem nuong, and then putting some
herbs, some cucumber, wrapping it up, and making a roll with it. I definitely didn’t think
that we were setting out to like, let’s figure out how many applications we can use for rice paper, and I think I was kind of surprised with
how, oh man, we’re really utilizing every way that you
can with rice paper here. And I’m sure if we thought about it, we could come with a million different other ways to do it as well. It’s such a versatile ingredient, and it’s just, permeated
all throughout our menu, in different applications. What we’re seeing right now is, there’s starting to be a little bit of a Vietnamese community here, which I think we’re really excited about– – Which we’re trying to
build and cultivate– – Yeah, you know we wanna be part of it. We’re seeing Vietnamese food,
and all ethnic foods really, being embraced right now in the media. I think what you’re seeing right now is a lot of people just like Tuan and I, wanting to share our
culture, share our food. You know, [we’re] fortunate to know all the Vietnamese restaurateurs here, we talk about, there was this baseline of Vietnamese restaurants that
we’ve had here for a while, and now you’re starting to
see that next generation of restaurateurs really start to adopt that same philosophy
of trying to specialize, and I think you’re going to start seeing a lot of that now, coming
up here in New York. As we get more and more
attention on Vietnamese food, I think you’ll see a
lot more people starting to take chances, starting to take risks, and starting to bring the
stuff that they grew up eating, and I think they’re starting to see a receptive audience here for that. I’m really excited to
see what happens next.

15 comments

  1. They took it to a new level! I used to be in a purist bubble. I opened my mind and now am in a better place.

  2. What is so special about black pepper in Pho? It’s been done since the beginning. Vietnamese pretty much add black pepper to most soup noodle dishes we eat. We also add an egg yolk but never break them in the broth, you slurp it whole with some of the broth.

  3. Remember "clarity" is an important aspect of Phở, so when you do "Tái Lăn" and add an egg on top, you will destroy the clarity of the soup broth. Your "Bánh xèo miền Trung" is lacking flour, bánh xèo miền Trung is not like bánh xèo miền Nam, it should have a thick but crispy crust, no coconut milk and have an egg mix in to the flour.

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