Saigon Pho

We had a yen for Vietnamese food the other day, and since there aren’t that many Vietnamese restaurants near us we went to one that we knew: Saigon Pho.

Finally, the Asian noodle craze has touched down in Dutchess. Newcomer Saigon Pho is making a splash, bringing Vietnamese cuisine to our doorstep in a spacious, contemporary setting decorated with textural grasses and woven Asian accessories.

Not to be confused with its predecessor, Pho Max, Saigon Pho is in the same unglamorous strip mall location on Route 9. This 52-seat spot is likely here to stay, drawing a steady and enthusiastic lunch and dinner crowd with flavorful fare at smile-inducing prices. This is food that is meant for sharing, so be prepared to order a variety of dishes to split. If you need guidance navigating the waters of Vietnamese food, the soft-spoken waiters are happy to suggest a balanced range of dishes. Most people start with the rice-paper-wrapped spring rolls, great for snacking while perusing the menu. Choose from grilled pork or shrimp ($8.50 for three large pieces that are cut in half, so even six people could have a taste). For the complete experience, wash them down with some green or coconut bubble tea ($3.75, so named for the tapioca “bubbles”), served with an extra wide straw.

Of course, a visit practically demands an order of pho (noodle soup). A staple dish of Vietnam, it comes in a large bowl loaded with vermicelli noodles swimming in a slightly sweet, intricately spiced, aromatic broth hinting of star anise, ginger, cinnamon, and coriander. There are several specialty phos here: shrimp, chicken, tiny meatballs, and even brisket (below) are possibilities (prices range from $8.99 to $10.50). Request more bowls, so everyone can customize their pho choosing from the generous garnish side plate of bean sprouts, fragrant Thai basil, sliced jalapenos, and lime wedges. Shake in some sweet ’n’ spicy hoisin sauce or hot chili, and you’ll be all set. To cool the spice a bit, order a vegetable fried rice ($8.25), addictively tasty with carrots, broccoli, and crisp bits of tofu.

If you’re there for lunch, be sure to try the classic Vietnamese sandwich Banh Mi Thit Nuong ($4.50) — that is, grilled pork served with pickled cucumbers and mayonnaise. It just might replace your favorite deli food. 845-765-2100 (Hudson Valley)

Apart from the brightly colored lanterns it’s not much to look at, but the staff are friendly and helpful and the food (at least what we had) was great.

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GF1 and G vario 14-42 asph f3.5-5.6.

A craving for barbecue

It was the last day of the July 4 Holiday. It was still hot, but not as humid as it had been We were sitting in our garden enjoying the view (above) when our neighbors started to barbecue. It smelled so good that we decided we had to have some. While we have a barbecue grill we haven’t used it this year and we didn’t have any supplies. So we decided to go out to a nearby BBQ place and pick some up.

Round Up Texas BBQ. It was very good too. Note the sign for ‘Lone Star Beer’

Another view of Round Up Texas BBQ. Some kind of food preparation going on inside.

I felt like a drink while I was waiting for my wife to come out with the food. Unfortunately, she came out just as I got it so I had to take it home. So now ‘It’s Miller Time”, or at least ‘Lone Star Beer” time for me.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.

A day in the city

Above the Chrysler Building, probably my favorite NY City building.

I went into New York City the other day to have lunch with a friend and former colleague. We went to the Palm Too restaurant near where we both used to work. Excellent food and, in my case, maybe a little too much to drink.

The restaurant is known for the cartoons on the walls.

A closer view of some of the cartoons.

On the way home on the train I called my wife and we decided to have dinner at a recently opened restaurant in Garrison Landing. It’s called ‘Dolly’s“, because portions of the movie “Hello Dolly” were filmed there. The old Garrison Metro North station substituted for the Yonkers station, which was apparently confusing to the commuters because when filming was taking place they apparently passed through Yonkers twice. The gazebo used in the movie is still there, or rather an exact replica of it is, the original having rotted.

The food was good and the view across the Hudson River spectacular. The large building on the other side of the river is the US Military Academy at West Point.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.