I was pretty excited to get this book! It’s a food genre that I’m not really that familiar with. We have a couple of Vietnamese restaurants here, but I’ve only been to one and I can’t say I remember a lot about the menu. It was Vietnamese, Chinese, and also included Dim Sum.
I’ll definitely be throwing some recipes out of it up on the blog as I make them! I am very excited about that part. It’s not often that my kitchen gets to see Asian ingredients or Asian methods.
I love that this is a big, sturdy book. When I’m reading novels I want them to either be paperback or I want them to be on my e-reader. But with a cookbook, I want it big, heavy, and able to stand up to abuse. I have my things so I can USE my things!
It’s not that I don’t take care of my things, it’s just…. No, it’s that I don’t take care of my things. My laptop sits on the counter while I’m cooking and is almost always splattered with foodstuffs, and my cookbook pages have stains and are worn in some places. You get the idea.
I am a huge texture person, though, and this book kind of has a rough burlap-like cover. Not my thing. But it’s not like I’ll really be holding it much, right? The pages themselves are pretty glossy, though, which is nice for the pictures!
First I’ll start off by saying that I really thought it was cool how the recipes in the book were ordered by each restaurant location. I thought this was a really interesting way to order a book!
The pictures in this book are to die for. It makes me want to pack up and go to San Francisco just so I can eat there! I’ll have to settle for making the recipes, though. There is a great deal of seafood in the book, which looks great, but I’m from Nebraska, and our seafood choices are mostly lacking. That’s not so much a criticism of the book, though, as much as it is a personal issue.
This book has a bunch of wontons and rolls and sauces and noodles which is just incredible. Those are the Asian foods I love and crave. Pork and Shrimp Wontons with Spicy Chile Oil is towards the top of my list. And the Vegetarian Imperial Rolls look delicious.
I’m a huge fan of lemongrass, so I was very delighted to see the Spicy Lemongrass Soup and will be making it the first chance I get to buy some lemongrass stalks. One thing about this book, though, and this recipe in particular is that it calls for “three pounds fish carcasses” which in my area is not easy to find, and I would guess that’s the same for many places. To the book’s credit, though, the ending section has a lot of “basic” recipes that you would need in order to make the recipes (like lobster stock).
I’d very much love to have a Vietnamese style dinner party and maybe serve the Shaking Beef, the Duck Salad, and the Wok-Charred Eggplant with Satay Sauce. Plus a cocktail or two from the book.
Overall, this is a beautiful book. It’s full of beautiful pictures and stories and delicious looking recipes.
It’s definitely not a book I would recommend to someone who is a beginning cook as their first Asian cookbook. However, I would recommend the book to someone looking to expand their horizons and who knows their way around the kitchen a bit more.
I think it does maintain a nice balance between the home kitchen and the restaurant kitchen. However, as far as ingredient availability and some of the methods, I would say it leans more towards a coffee table book (kind of like Keller’s The French Laundry cookbook). That’s not to say I won’t be using it, though.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.