Andrea’s View: Sandra and I didn’t start off on the right foot. Already suffering from low blood sugar, I wasn’t in a pleasant mood when Dave and I arrived. We walked into the dining room, and there was one other couple sitting at a table enjoying big bowls of what I assume to be Pho. Dave and I sit down at a table and wait. And wait. And wait some more. Another couple walks into the dining room and walks over to a window/counter that looks into the back of the kitchen, and presto, Sandra walks out to the dining room. She seats them, and then gives us menus. We order drinks, and then she disappears to the back of the restaurant. She brings us our drinks in a timely manner, and Dave and I ask her a few questions about the menu. She answers our questions, and disappears for what felt like a really long time. I apologise to Dave for not ordering when we had the chance. She finally reappears to help the second couple in the dining room and then stops at the first table. It is then that smoke explodes from my ears and negative energy radiates from my aura. Dave tells me to “knock it off.” But at this point I can’t stop it, the hypoglycemia has taken over and I am an irrational and angry b****. She finally comes over and takes our order and disappears again. Dave again asks me to stop being such a b****. I know Dave, I am working on it. Deep breaths. Finally, the food arrives, and as I take my first bite, all my angry and negative feelings toward Sandra melt away. I ordered Thit Kho Hot Ga which is braised pork with egg served with rice and a side salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and carrots.
I dump my rice into the broth, which is nicely seasoned with fish sauce, and I dig in. Along with the “spoon- tender” chunks of pork, there is a solitary hard-boiled egg that had turned a tan color from absorbing the broth. Both the egg and pork were perfectly salty, fishy, porky, and fatty. The salad by contrast was fresh and bright and crisp. The whole thing was delightful. Now that my blood sugars had returned to normal, I said to Dave, “This turned out pretty well didn’t it?” He just shook his head and rolled his eyes.
So when you go to Sandra Rice and Noodles on Pendleton Pike, remember two things. 1) Sandra is the cook and the server, so she may be a little slow to get you your food, but it is worth it. 2) Walk up to the window/counter to let her know that you are in the restaurant. And by the way, I left her an extra-large tip to make amends for my earlier nasty aura.
Dave’s View: Andrea gives me the stare down. Do we take a seat or do we order at the counter?
We stand in the middle of the restaurant staring at each other for three minutes. Oh, let’s just sit down and wait.
Wait. (I went outside and ran a marathon. Yes, I can run that fast.)
Wait some more. (I wrote a novel, published it and now it’s on the bestsellers list. Yes, I write fast, my publisher publishes fast, and my readers read fast. Say that ten times)
The wait is now going on ten minutes. Andrea’s eyes are now bulging out of her head and it appears that snakes are coming out of her hair. Another couple walks into the restaurant and proceeds to the counter. A small frail Vietnamese woman appears and says, ” I’ll be right with. You can take a seat.” The couple sits down and Vietnamese woman reappears and was shocked to find us sitting in her dining area. She apologizes and brings out the menu.
Right now I am thinking to myself, “This is not going to be fun.” The service is slow, Andrea’s eyes are freaking me out, the snakes are hissing at me, and the food will be next in line to take a hit. I ordered a Saigon beer and Banh Xeo. Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese Pancake. Don’t get this confused with an American pancake, it has no resemblance to an American pancake whatsoever. To give you a summary of the dish: WOW!!! DOUBLE WOW!!! THE FOOD SAVED THE DAY.
Banh Xeo is sort like a hybrid between a crepe and a pancake. The pancake part is fried flour with a bit of turmeric in it. Inside were chunks of pork and whole shrimp mixed in with bean sprouts, onion, and I think cilantro. On a side dish, came Romaine lettuce, mint basil, shredded carrots and cabbage and a special sauce. Every item on this plate was fresh and the unknown sauce was delicious. Now, our Vietnamese server gave me tips on how to eat it. I didn’t have to ask, she just told me. It was an added plus, because I would have not known what to do. So here is what you do: Take a chunk of pancake, place it in the Romaine lettuce, add your basil, carrots, cabbage, and drizzle some sauce on it and eat it like a taco. That’s how she told me to eat and I always follow what the server tells me. This dish is the perfect blend of healthy(fresh vegetables) and non healthy(fried pancake). The pork and shrimp were perfectly tendered with a crunchy outer shell of pancake, equipped with a double crunch of Romaine, add all the other ingredients, and you have one unique dish. Flavorful and one dish every true food adventurer should try. One other thing, the best aspect of eating any Vietnamese food, is that it won’t bloat you. You’ll eat a lot of food, but you won’t notice because the food doesn’t have the tendency to make your belly stick out. You will feel satisfied and healthy. It’s feeling I don’t get much from eating out.
When our server came out and gave us our check, she looked at my dish and said, “You’re an expert, you know how to eat it well. Most people make a mess.” I reply, “That’s because you taught me well.” Very well. Thank you… Sandra, if that was you.
Food: 9.50 Service: 8 Ambiance: 8 Total: 25.5 out 30
$35-$45 with adult beverages. Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancake) is not on the online menu, but it is there.