If there is one dish I m in love with – it’s Pho. We regularly read about food and go and try them in a particular country but I fell in love with Pho when I was in Indonesia for 45 days for work and within a few months we were in Vietnam – eating Pho day in day out. I like soups and Pho is just the next level of it !
This summer we were in Europe (wrong timing we know) and an early morning flight from Lyon meant that we had to travel and stay in Lyon for the night.
The brain is always processing – where to go next and what to eat next so the bus ride from Annecy to Lyon was about what can we squeeze in during our short stay in Lyon.
Eureka ! Geopolitical reading and understanding helps at many times and I suddenly realized that France has a sizable Vietnamese population and the chances of getting Vietnamese food are high in Lyon. After all we had got very tasty and flavorful Pho two years ago in Paris !
The last 30 mins of the bus ride were spent in convincing TW (The Wife) on how Pho will make a great dinner and this convincing involved faking throat irritation to justify need of a warm soup and a lot more.
With in principle approval in place – we walked to our hotel, settled in and started the search – google, TripAdvisor just about anything which will list out nearest Vietnamese restaurants and there were more than one !
Off we go – a walk of a kilometer or so to reach “Les 9 Lotus” where an elderly lady welcomes us (the restaurant is empty). We settle down, order the Pho and Vietnamese spring roll and the lady goes back to the kitchen where a gentlemen ( probably her husband) is cooking. I order a Saigon beer and that is promptly served and there comes the Vietnamese spring rolls.
TW is a pro in french language, while my language skills are such that I struggle in English, Hindi and Marathi. The lady and TW got talking in french and apparently the owner was telling TW on how to eat the spring rolls without chopsticks or fork by first rolling them inside the lettuce and dipping them in sauce – all by hand.
Unaware of the instructions and oblivious of the french talk, I picked up the chopsticks ! And the Vietnamese lady looked at me as if I am an idiot and started shouting non non non! TW rolled her eyes, I seemed to have messed up
And the whole drill started again in English on how to eat the spring rolls. I must admit the taste and flavors of eating it the way it was suggested was unparalleled.
Just when we thought that the dinner for two, is quickly becoming a dinner for two guided by a third, we got spared by the chatty owner since a group of 4 who seemed regular at the place walked in and she got busy with them but TW had a time of her life listening to her fiery instructions to them and that included one line “Je Sais Tout” (I know everything). We were amazed! What is it that she knew? The order they were about to place and the quantity!
The Pho was splendid and as we walked over to the counter to pay the bill, we got talking about Vietnam – and like a true South Vietnamese who migrated during the war, she was all praise when I spoke about Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) and the non non non returned when I started talking about Hanoi.
She wants to visit India at least once to see Jaya and pray to Gudda. We realized she is referring to Gaya, where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment.
Vietnamese people are very kind and friendly and we experienced the same in Vietnam and with every Vietnamese we have met in other parts of the world. This was another such instance.
The next stop for Pho is going to be Vietnamese embassy in New Delhi which serves Pho and other Vietnamese food to commoners on Fridays.