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Our not-so-recent dinner menu (oysters & quails & mackerel & ducks! oh my!)

Wherever we’ve lived, we’ve become known among friends for elaborate, fancy dinners (but bring your own chairs). The shindigs serve multiple purposes: it’s fun to play restaurant and we love the occasions to cook together; they allow us to work out and organize into a menu the many random ideas we’ve collected; they let us hang out with our friends and provides us with, in the form of those selfsame friends, guinea pigs to test newest creations on.

This dinner was no different. Taking advantage of Lamp’s rare long visit to the bay area, we decided to hold a dinner with 4 originally planned courses that ballooned to 12 by the time our guests arrived. The menu was a mix of repeats of past successes (roasted salted kumquat quails, sake kasu marinated cod, forbidden rice amazake), brand new creations (bossam-inspired oysters, mackerel braised in green/barley tea, duck dishes, etc.), and cookbook recipe (tomato soup with yuba cream). The dishes were rooted in Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese cuisines but each had a twist marking them as a product of our kitchen. We took care with each dish to provide a different view, one that incorporated new ingredients available in a modern multicultural society, without obscuring the unique characteristics that made the traditional version so appealing.

Mackerel braised in barley tea

But wait, there’s more!


Recuperating dinner: duck noodle soup

Cooking and good food are therapeutic to me. So what better way to recuperate from a bad cold than a home-cooked dinner with piping hot noodle soup topped with lots of pepper and scallion! And of course, 1-dish meal is never enough for me, so I ended up making a 3-course dinner.

Gỏi and bún măng vịt dinner (duck salad & noodle soup dinner)

See all 3 dishes


Our contributions to a potluck : Nem chua and tofu misozuke

Going to a potluck / salon later today. Here’s what we’re contributing to the feast:

Nem chua wrapped in banana leaves and wax paper and tied with banana leaf cords


Memorial weekend BBQ

Select photos from the dishes we brought to a BBQ this weekend. Vegan dishes were first to go on the grill:

  • Squash blossoms stuffed with coconut flesh smeared with miso-sake-mirin sauce
  • Miso-glazed tofu
  • Vegan burgers: edamame, chickpeas, olive oil, shiitake and tree oyster mushrooms

Squash blossoms, coconut misozuke

[Read more…]


Food-filled weekend

Select photos from a food-filled weekend (2 big dinners on Friday and Saturday)

Cơm hấp trái dừa: rice cooked in coconut juice inside a coconut

There’s a huge bin of fresh young coconuts at the Asian supermarket I go to so I have been playing with coconut a lot lately. Latest fun was steaming rice inside a coconut with coconut juice. The rice is sweet and fully infused with coconut flavor. The rice could be a meal in itself. It paired very well with coconut-caramelized shrimps.

Tôm rang nước dừa coconut-caramelized shrimps)

And speaking of caramelization, how could I not make caramelized catfish in claypot as well? It’s kind of funny that I had never tried my hands at making this Southern classic before. Anyways, 1st and 2nd attempts (Fri & Sat dinners) both turned out very well. This delicious dish was a big hit at both dinners.

Cá kho tộ Caramelized catfish with pork belly)

Riềng (galanga) definitely enhanced the flavor of cá kho tộ

Friday menu:

  1. Gỏi ngó sen (lotus root salad with shrimps and pork belly)
  2. Tôm rang nước dừa (Coconut-caramelized shrimps)
  3. Cá kho tộ (Caramelized catfish in claypot)
  4. Canh chua (Sweet and sour soup with catfish)
  5. Rau câu dừa (coconut agar-agar/jelly in coconut)

Gỏi ngó sen lotus root salad), tôm rang nước dừa coconut-caramelized shrimps), cá kho tộ

Saturday menu:

1.   Chả giò chay (yuba rolls)
2a. Cà tím kho tộ (coconut-caramelized eggplants)
2b. Cá kho tộ (caramelized catfish in claypot)
3.   Mít non nướng cuốn bánh tráng (grilled young jackfruit in rice paper)
4a. Canh chua cá bông lau (sweet & sour soup with catfish)
4b. Canh chua chay (vegetarian sweet and sour soup)
5.   Mít nướng cơm dừa (grilled ripe jackfruit with grated coconut)