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Pho Xe La

This was a random choice, yet a good one. I did my best to steer clear of
the chop suey looking joints that seemed straight out of 1964. Fun for
kitsch value, perhaps, but I wasn't sure about the food. I'd previously
eaten at Rangoon, the Burmese place, and there was
no way I was going for the Penang mediocrity I could
get here in NY.

My attention was drawn to a bustling Viet-Thai (heavy on the
viet) place with a cute neon train in the window. The hopping crowds were
right. I love a place with endless subtle variations on dishes like pho and
bun. You could scour the menu forever trying to get just the right combo of
additions. I eventually settled on the bun with egg roll, bbq pork and
shrimp paste on sugar cane. The rainbow ice and beef jerky papaya salad were
also nice accompaniments. James ordered the non-descript pork with black
pepper. What came out was a metal dish of pork belly in an angry boiling
broth. We couldn't figure out how to put out the flames underneath, which
was scary for a moment. I don't think all that pork fat could possibly be
good for a person. My only guess is that it was intended for sharing, not
devouring by yourself.

PhoXe Lua Viet-Thai Restaurant* 907 Race St.,

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