Vietnamese rice noodle salad

So, I have this thing for a certain pre-packaged salad from Trader Joe’s.

The thing is…I love it.

It’s the Five Spice Chicken and Asian Style Noodle Salad.  AKA Flavortown, USA.

I could eat this salad everyday.  However, if I ate this salad everyday, I’d become a poor lady real quick.

So what’s a girl to do?  Make her own dang salad, obviously!

Enter Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  In this awesome book, Miss Moskowitz includes a recipe for Vietnamese rice noodle salad with grilled tofu.  After a quick glance at the recipe, I knew I had to make it.

And make it I did.

It wasn’t until I was halfway done making this that I realized I didn’t have a few ingredients (ie. carrots and bell peppers), but I forged on anyways.  The results were great.  The tofu is marinated in the spicy-sweet dressing, which gives it incredible flavor.  Everything comes together on a bed of romaine lettuce, making it filling but still very light.

I (semi-)followed the recipe that Shutterbean posted.  Two things: 1) the thinner the noodles you can find, the better, 2) don’t skip the fresh herbs.  Just don’t.  They make the dish.

Vietnamese rice noodle salad.  This recipe is vegan!  This recipe keeps money in my pocket!  This recipe is totally worth a try.

Things i like: pinterest

Today marks the beginning of a new series I’m adding to the blog entitled Things I Like.

I suppose it can be assumed that everything I post on here is a “thing that I like,” however, I’d like to get a little more specific with this series.  The things I include may or may not be related to food, but they’re guaranteed to be awesome.

Up first:

Pinterest

Does anybody not know about this site these days?  Easiest, most convenient way to find recipes, wedding dresses, bulldog puppies, and cheeseball quotes.

It sharpens my lust for travel.  It inspires me to throw dinner parties just so I can craft some cute place cards.  It shows me that anything and everything can (and probably should) be covered with either glitter or lace (maybe even both).

Here are a few gems I’ve pinned lately:

Tips for the perfect cheese platter.  Because one day, I’m going to be a sophisticated adult who throws wine and cheese parties for friends.  Truth.

Vintage postcard travel journal.  An absolutely adorable, clever, and sentimental way to document your adventures and expeditions.

Inner-tubing in Kauai.  Because, frankly, who wouldn’t want to do this?  Let’s just be real.

Photo sources: 1, 2, 3

Are you into Pinterest?  Or are you one of the lucky few who hasn’t gotten sucked into pin-mania?

It’s time

Time for me to finally talk up one of my favorite restaurants in all the land.

Archi’s Thai Bistro

Here’s the scoop: Archi’s Thai actually has three locations – Thai bistro, Thai kitchen, and Thai cafe.  All three share the same menu and pump out equally fantastic food.  I frequent Archi’s Thai Bistro, but that matters not.

What matters is that fact that this is some of the best Thai food in all of Las Vegas.  This is a family-run restaurant that has repeatedly won Best of Las Vegas, and for very good reason.

They have a wide variety of choices on their menu, including lunch specials.  My go-to Archi’s specialty (read: I never order anything else) is their pad Thai.  It kills me.  In a good way.

I have purposefully gone to many other Thai restaurants to order pad Thai and compare it to Archi’s.  Nothing ever compares.  The fact of the matter is, no other restaurant I have been to has been able to mimic the complex and harmonious flavors that Archi’s delivers.

I can write a novel about the pad Thai, but my laud for this establishment does not end there.  Everything, and I mean everything, I’ve ever tried there has been on point.  Curries, salads, soups, noodle, rice, and meat dishes, appetizers, and desserts…Archi’s delivers in all categories.

The items I’d recommend the most include: pad Thai (did I even need to say that?), chicken satay, silver noodle salad, panang curry, tom kha soup, pineapple fried rice, and mango with sticky rice.  If you’re into Thai iced tea, that’s a winner as well.  (You definitely should be into Thai iced tea, by the way.)

Portions are huge and so great for sharing.  Prices are totally reasonable.  Staff is friendly.  Even during the busiest hours, their service is swift and efficient.  I can’t say enough good things about this place.

Archi’s Thai.  Get at it.

Sushi kaya

About a week ago, I ventured out to Sushi Kaya in Las Vegas’s Chinatown for an all-you-can-eat sushi extravaganza for my friend’s birthday.

I’m a little embarrassed to say all I have in the way of photos is a terribly-lit picture of the aftermath.  But hey, when parties are being had, photography takes a back seat.

ImageYikes.

In all seriousness, this place was pretty great.  For about $25, you can get their all-you-can-eat special which includes everything on their menu, from appetizers to desserts, and every sushi roll you could ever want.  (You do have to pay for beverages that aren’t water.)  Order two special sushi rolls and your bill will already be over $25, so the AYCE is definitely worth the price if your appetite is large enough.

Our group was made up of over 10 people, so sharing definitely happened.  I was able to try potstickers, seaweed salad (love), ahi poki, tiger roll, zizzy roll, sex on the beach roll, and shrek roll.

Everything was very flavorful and fresh – exactly what you would expect of sushi done right.  One of my sushi pet peeves is when “spicy” salmon or “spicy” tuna isn’t at all spicy, but Kaya definitely got it spot on.

The fish rolls were great, but perhaps my favorite item of the night was the shrek roll, vegan-friendly and composed of avocado, cucumber, asparagus, and a very unique and tasty cilantro sauce.  It was something to be craved.

Other people enjoyed a wide variety of other items including vegetable tempura, kimchi fried rice, skewered beef tongue (whoa), and mochi, and everyone seemed satisfied with what they got.

As far as the service went, the wait staff was very friendly and, with the exception of a couple items, very quick with serving our food.

Image

If all you-can-eat-sushi is your thing, definitely give this place a shot.  The shrek roll in and of itself is totally worth trying.

Pizza rethought

A lot of times, when I go to the store, I usually end up with an item or two that I rarely use/cook with.  Just to keep myself adventurous, I suppose.

Rainbow chard, hoisin sauce, seaweed…

Or in this case, big, earthy portobello mushrooms.

“What is that?” you might be asking.

That…is pizza rethought.  It’s your basic pizza toppings sitting on a portobello base instead of doughy crust.  It’s also amazing.  I should have said that first.

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Load up your cleaned, de-stemmed, de-gilled portobello with your choice of sauce and toppings.  Throw the mushroom on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake it for about 15-20 minutes, until the mushroom is tender and the cheese is bubbly.  Pizza on a portobello, DONE AND DONE.

This is ridiculously easy and so delicious.  If I ever find myself at a loss about what to do with portobellos, this would definitely be my default plan of action.

Pizza rethought!  Get into it!

And speaking of rethinking, have you heard of this trend?  We’ve got rethinkers left and right!

SnOw ONO shave ice

This confession might alienate me from a good portion of the population, but…I hate snow cones.

It’s true.  I hate how snow cones are composed of super crunchy ice that makes it impossible to hold onto whatever flavored syrup it is doused with.  I hate that the top of the snow cone is always flavorless, while the bottom is pure syruptown, USA.  You know that phrase “middle is gold”?  It doesn’t work here.  Middle is just as bad as top and bottom.  That doesn’t have a nice ring to it, but it’s the truth.

Truth > nice rings.

Shave ice is not snow cones.  And thank goodness for that.

SnOw ONO is a very popular food truck here in Las Vegas that I had heard many great things about before tasting it myself.  When I found them posted at the Las Vegas Farmers Market, I knew I had to try it.

The menu is very expansive.  Coconut, guava, POG, dreamsicle, and red velvet cake are just a few of the many flavors they have available.  In addition, they have other add-ins like sweetened condensed milk, mochi, and li hing mui powder.

After consulting the very kind employee taking orders, I decided to go with the “tropical explosion” which was half mango, half POG (passion, orange, guava – this is a popular drink in Hawaii) all topped with sweetened condensed milk.

Amazing.  The texture of shave ice is something all its own.  It is very light and pillowy and melts in your mouth the second it hits your tongue (no ice crunching here!).  I can totally see why this truck has a strong fan base.

This type of thing is perfect for a hot summer day. I’m pretty sure I’ll be visiting again before the summer is over.

Eating this sort of made me feel like a kid with a snow cone again, except that this tasted at least 893x better and I was not left with a blue raspberry-stained mouth.