Like Canada, Vietnam is comprised of many regions and traditions. The food of the north, for example, will differ from the dishes of the south or central parts of the country. And many of these plates are also influenced by the culinary traditions of other South East Asian countries like India, Indonesia, and Thailand, as well as flavours from China and France.
But one thing that unifies all good Vietnamese menus is using the freshest possible ingredients and an insistence on finding a balance of fragrance, flavour, and texture.
At Edmonton’s Miss Saigon, Vietnamese cuisine is blended with North American traditions. Take, for instance, the restaurant’s version of the traditional Mexican burrito — which Miss Saigon calls the Phởritto. When owner Sonny Ng opened Miss Saigon, his goal was to introduce a whole new kind of Vietnamese food and culture experience to the city. “We wanted to create a classier restaurant,” he says, “so we carefully decided on what to put on the menu.” This meant getting inventive with the staples. Which is where the Phởritto comes in.
Phở (pronounced “fuh”) is the famous Vietnamese soup that is normally made with a bone-beef broth, banh pho noodles, and thinly sliced beef. It is often served with bean sprouts and other fresh herbs on the side. A Phởritto takes all of these ingredients (except for the broth) and stuffs them inside a tortilla wrap. So you can take your Phở on the go!
Food trucks south of the border have been experimenting with Phở/burrito combinations for a few years now, but owner Sonny Ng says that Miss Saigon’s version is a first for Edmonton. And even though food trucks have grown to have quite a following on the food scene in the last decade, Miss Saigon’s version is a refinement because it places more emphasis on traditional Phở ingredients as well as other Asian flavours such as hoisin and sriracha sauces. “It really is unique,” says Ng.
Phở is beloved for the broth, so how do you get it to work as a wrap? At Miss Saigon, thinly sliced beef brisket approximates the warm, rich flavour of the bone broth, while noodles, bean sprouts, onions and cilantro provide the familiar textures and fragrances. And as a bonus, you get a side meatball soup that you can dip your Phởritto into.
While you can get a Phởritto to go, it’s also an experience to visit the restaurant to learn more about the intricacies of Vietnamese food. The atmosphere at Miss Saigon is cozy and informative. The menu is illustrated with gorgeous images of Vietnamese landmarks and the descriptions of the dishes are easy to understand — you don’t need to know what “bun” or “nimh bin” means to eat at Miss Saigon, but you will before you leave.