Off the Beaten Plate: Pho Combination Bowl at Little Saigon Café

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The Pho Combination Bowl (with beef, meatballs, tripe and tendons) at Little Saigon Café, 1524 B W. 23rd St.

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Honey Fried Banana Topped with Roasted Sesame Seeds, one of the desserts at Little Saigon Café, 1524B W. 23rd St.

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The Pho Combination Bowl is Little Saigon Café’s largest, beefiest bowl of pho — a steaming, fragrant Vietnamese beef broth soup with noodles, bean sprouts, scallions and basil. And unless you eat beef tripe (stomach/intestines) and tendons (connective tissue) regularly, it’s safe to say it’s also their most exotic.

This dish is packed with sliced beef, meatballs, tripe (white, fibrous and, ah, textured) and tendons (gelatinous, collagenous and melt-in-your-mouth).

A sign on the door of the restaurant, which opens at 10 a.m., defines pho for newbies and notes: “Pho is perfect for any time of day, breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

Where to get it: Little Saigon Café, 1524 B W. 23rd St.

What you’ll pay: $8.50, plus tax

Try it with: A swirl of hoisin sauce and a swirl of sriracha sauce, stirred into the broth for extra flavor and heat. Little Saigon’s owners say this is the way they like it.

Also on the menu: All things Vietnamese — spring rolls, pho with chicken or beef, bun (vermicelli noodles), beef stew, meat or vegetarian entrees and bubble tea. For dessert, there’s fresh fried mini donuts or honey fried banana topped with roasted sesame seeds.

Restaurant website: littlesaigonlawrence.com

— Off The Beaten Plate highlights some of the more exotic, oddly named or inventively concocted (for better or worse) dishes from local menus. Know of an offbeat menu item we should check out? Email food and features reporter Sara Shepherd at sshepherd@ljworld.com. Tweet her at Twitter.com/KCSSara.

Comments

flloyd 2 years ago

This may be the best restaurant in Lawrence...no kidding. Steve, the owner, is a super nice guy and very creative with vegetarian and vegan dishes. Juan, the other chef, is super nice, too. We love their vegan noodle vegetable soup with tofu. I get mine with jalapeños to give it some extra kick. Also, vegan spring rolls with peanut sauce that rocks. We're not omnivores, but if we were, the meat dishes look incredible. A really fun atmosphere and always smiles from the owner and workers!

q_ball2kand1 2 years ago

Steve and Jose are two of the friendliest guys I know. The food is always fast, hot, and delicious, and they are open to requests for off-the-menu dishes. He posts pictures of each days special to facebook, and will usually sell out of it by late afternoon. Be sure to add two fried eggs to your Pho.

flloyd 2 years ago

Oops...I meant Jose. Thanks for the correction!

msezdsit 2 years ago

..."And unless you eat beef tripe (intestines) and tendons (connective tissue) regularly,"...

Do they cook the veggie and vegan stuff next to the tripe? Use the same utensils and pans for the vegan and the tripe?

Thanks for the warning, I'll take a pass on this place.

clovis_sangrail 2 years ago

Do they have dishes without so many of the nasty bits?

My doctor has me on a low-offal diet.

Also, tripe is stomach, not intestines, but that doesn't make it any less nasty.

Sara Shepherd 2 years ago

Clovis, yes, they have lots. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, this is the only offal dish on the menu!

As for tripe, I didn't quiz the cook about specifically what part of the cow's digestive tract they order, so I added stomach to this write-up to cover all the bases. In different languages and dishes, I've seen similar words (tripe, tripes, tripas) refer to different parts (complicated by the fact that cows have multiple stomachs). Next time, I'll be sure to ask for the "nasty" specifics about what I'm eating ;)

Doonesbury 2 years ago

Good news for vegetarians: tripe is totally vegan, so you can eat as much as you want since there is no meat in it. I've been vegan for over 15 years and I love my pho with tripe in it, it is delicious! I also ordered some for my other vegetarian friends (without telling them first) and they also agreed that it was delicious.

ThingTwo 2 years ago

errr hate to be the one to inform you but tripe is the stomach of various farm animals Doonesbury. Looks like you havent been a very good vegan over the past 15 years.

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