Vietnamese Food 201: Beyond Pho
Doesn't that look GOOD? On the platter, you might find the grilled chicken on a bed of thin rice noodles, sliced cucumber, lettuce, bean sprouts and basil sprigs. In the bowl is your spicy-sweet fish sauce. *WARNING: This is a meal you will want to avoid if you have a young child that might lurch across the table to grab a rolling crayon. Or something. All that looks pretty harmless and easy to consume.
Here's the part that might trip you up. You'll get a plate of dried rice wraps that look like the plastic roofing on your grandma's back patio. Except they'll be white, not green. And a bowl of hot water. (*Hence, the toddler warning.) You take one stiff disk and soak it in the hot water. Some restaurants might give you the wraps already prepared, but they are so sticky that you might tear the wraps.
When it gets soft, place it flat on your plate. Place bits of the meat (or tofu for a vegetarian version) and the accompaniments. Drizzle on some fish sauce. Wrap it like a waffle cone, folding up the bottom and take a bite.