Hello Vietnam!

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June 5, 2010 by ritadate

I had never thought about eating Vietnamese food, always preferring Thai or even Chinese. My aunt who knows I like to try different foods insisted I try Vietnamese and took me to Le’s in Chestnut Hill near Boston.
“It’s lighter, less spice, more vegetables,” she said reminding me that I was also trying to lose weight. Le’s is open and spacious as it is located in upscale Atrium mall. Nearly 80% of the people eating were of Asian origin which is always a good indicator of how authentic the food is. I would not eat in an average Indian restaurant unless I was desperate for that kind of food. Hopefully the people at Le’s were not desperate but actually came because they liked the food.
The menu is extensive. There is a large variety of beef, chicken, seafood and vegetable dishes. My vegan friends always used to prefer Vietnamese food because of the vegetarian choices. In most of Southeast Asia, the meat portion of the meal comprises only about 20% of the meal. Vegetables, broth and noodles or rice are the remaining 80%.
Chinese and Thai restaurants in America have adapted to their cuisines to American tastes and meat makes up a large portion of the meal. Think spare ribs, stir-fry pork/beef, General Tsao’s chicken, even the beef with broccoli has more beef than broccoli. Thai has many more veggies but is not as many as Vietnamese. And if you are trying to lose weight, the curries contain fattening coconut milk and a considerable amount of oil.

Throughout Southeast Asia a healthy form of eating where vegetables make up the majority of the meal and only a bit of meat or fish is the norm. This type of eating evolved due to availability or lack of availability of the ingredients. Most people ate and still eat large bowls of soup with noodles, vegetables and a bit of meat. My aunt ordered a Pho Chay, vegetarian noodle soup with tofu and it was too much for her to finish. The broth had very little spice, the scallions gave it a oniony flavor. The steamed broccoli, carrots and beans were cooked just right.

The appetizer of Fresh Summer Rolls was listed under vegetarian entrees and not appetizers which I found odd. If I ate these as a meal, I would definitely be on way to size zero. The peanut sauced that accompanied the rolls was a bit too sweet and these rolls are as good as the sauce as they themselves are tasteless.
My dish, a Seafood and Vegetable Medley was excellent. It was a perfect blend of flavours, beautifully cooked vegetables and plenty of tasty seafood including scallops, squid and prawns. Although I ate quite a bit I did not feel heavy and actually felt healthy. Now I will try and eat Vietnamese when given a choice…healthy and relatively lower in calories!

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