Grilled calamari with lemongrass and crushed peanuts, sitting on top of a fresh salad with chillies
We've been doing a lot of road-tripping over the past few weeks, and over one weekend we revisited Charlotte, North Carolina, where my sister and brother-in-law live. Whenever we hit a city bigger than Charleston, our first instinct is to sniff out some good Asian food. It's one type of cuisine that, while available in Charleston, doesn't really compare to our days living in Malaysia.
So when my sister and brother-in-law suggested that we visit Vietnam Grille, a little Vietnamese place they frequent on a regular basis, we jumped at the chance. Um, delicious fresh Vietnamese food that's hard to come by for us these days? Yes, please.
Every dish we had at Vietnam Grille took us back to our times visiting Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi while we were living in Southeast Asia. The tenderly grilled calamari was seasoned perfectly with lemongrass and peanuts, and we also loved on some sauteed clams in a fresh basil sauce. And while the bun cha (a rice vermicelli salad) didn't contain the variety of fresh greens that you'd normally find on bun cha in Vietnam, the spring rolls were satisfyingly crunchy, and the beef, shrimp and chicken nestled on top were grilled perfectly.
Vietnamese chicken curry is lighter and sweeter than its Thai cousins
My sister and I also recently had a lengthy discussion about how Vietnamese has replaced Thai as our go-to neighborhood cuisine. You know what I'm talking about, right? This is the food that is takeout more often than it is dine-in, the kind you eat with your sweatpants on while watching reruns of Seinfeld. I'd love for a Vietnamese place to be more conveniently located to our house, so that the Gravy Baby could start chanting, "Bun cha! Bun cha!" whenever asked what he wants for dinner. Maybe we'll just have to move to Vietnam one day.
That would be an eating adventure worth having, wouldn't it?
Vietnam Grille | 5615 South Boulevard | Charlotte, North Carolina