Monday, February 20, 2012

Ha Long Bay, Madison


For Matthew's birthday, we finally made it to Ha Long Bay, a Vietnamese and Thai bistro on Willy Street.  If you've never been, it's best to get there before you're hungry or at an off-peak time, as the wait is generally about 30 minutes.  Groups of 3 or more can make a reservation, so that's nice. If you choose to wait, it's well worth your time.

We started with AP10-- "Spring Roll over Vietnamese Eggroll."  When the waitress set them on the table, our eyes widened to take in their size-- I could've eaten both of them for a meal.  Somehow, we were confused as to what exactly this would look like, so let me explain:  it's a spring roll with a thin, crispy egg roll wrapped inside.  This means the amazing crunch and delicately warm flavor of a fried wonton butts up against the fresh mint and cucumber and glass noodles... By far the most wonderful spring roll I've eaten.  Ever. (Though, I must admit, I'm a sucker for most things fried.)

I ordered Drunken Noodles with Tofu and Matthew had Pan-Fried Rice Noodles with Tofu.  Matthew's noodles were thick and dense and crispy, and he said the charred parts reminded him of funnel cake (he said this like it was a good thing).  His sauce seemed soy-based and primarily salty (not too salty, wonderfully salty-- just not very complex).  Though he enjoyed it, he said he'd probably order the Drunken Noodles next time, which were better than I'd had anywhere.  The sauce was complicated, the tofu was well-treated-- not too soft, not too dry-- and the veggies were well-cooked (ditto on the tofu and veggies in Matthew's dish).  We each got a 3 out of 4 star spice-factor, and found most of our spice was hanging out at the bottom of the plate-- so stir well before eating.  Our expectations of rice noodles are significantly higher now that we've eaten them at Ha Long Bay.

For dessert, we tried the blueberry wontons.  They'd been cooked a few seconds too long, so the wontons were a little burnt and dry around the edges, but the combination of flavors was brilliant, so we were forgiving.  The extra seconds in the fryer were also easy to forgive considering it was a Saturday night and our water glasses were never more than half-empty, our waitress was always smiling, and our meal had been so tasty.

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