No. 53, Banh Tom (Sweet Potato and Shrimp Fritters) at Van's
Hey, kids: guess what time is it? It's time to restart that Long March known as 100 Favorite Dishes (INSERT YEAR). YEAH!!!
Hey, don't ding us for listicles: Weekly DataLab studies show ustedes love this gimmick, launched in honor of our coming Best Of issue. Besides, it is rather fun to do this for us Forkers--an opportunity to highlight dishes from restaurants we'll never fully review, or secrets from old standbys. Anyhoo, let the march begin...
Van's is, without question, the reigning ruler of banh xeo, crispy fried Vietnamese pancakes that can be best described as a cross between a French crepe and a Venezuelan arepa.
But it also does one of the best banh tom's in Little Saigon. Banh tom is deep-fried simplicity at its finest and most basic. They take sweet potato, lace it in a light tempura batter, then drop it in the oil with these thick, fat, juicy, gigantic whole shrimp.
Traditionally, like at Brodard across the street, they are supposed to arrange the sweet potato sticks to form little rafts on which the shrimp rests. No such effort is made at Van's. Van's doesn't do much more than throw a mess of the potatoes into the fryer and follow it with the shrimp somewhere in the middle. But somehow, Van's banh tom is much better, crispier, sweeter, more delicate and more decadent than Brodard's.
Be prepared on how greasy the thing is. It straddles that fine line where you'd say it's too oily but never goes over it. It's perfect tangle of hot, fried food. You eat it the same way you eat the banh xeo: with fistfuls of herb and cold dunks into that ambrosial fish sauce.
54. Dinner at Marrakesh 55. Congee at Capital Seafood 56. Taquito Burrito at Cuca's Mexican Food 57. Clam Chowder at Billy's at the Beach 58. Volcan at Tacos Ruben y Mulitas 59. The Burger at ARC 60. Chocolate Chip Cookie at Crave 61. Lime Curd At Playground 62. Every Damn Thing at Mochi Cream 63. Most Things at Devilicious Donuts 64. Robiola Bosina at Provisions Market 65. Bite-Sized Stinky Tofu at Tofu King 66. Tacos Dorados at Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos 67. Tlacoyo at El Rincon Chilango 68. Whole Pig Roast at Haven Gastropub 69. Chingaderas at Smoqued BBQ 70. The Continuous Ramen Chronicles at The Playground 71. Shrimp & Grits at Slapfish 72. Bacon Cotton Candy at Biggy's Meat Market 73. Urban 3b at Urban Seoul 74. Waffles & Chicken from The Slummin' Gourmet & Waffles de Liege 75. Ahi Tuna Tartar at Nieuport 17 76. Chicken Wings at Hashigo Korean Kitchen 77. Brussels Sprouts Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza 78. Breakfast Sausage Hash at Thasos Greek Island Grille 79. Chocolate Doughnut with Jacobsen Sea Salt at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee 80. Loco Moco Dog at Dogzilla 81. Fruit Tart at Le Croissant Dore 82. Daing Na Bangus (Marinated Milkfish) Silog Breakfast at Chowking 83. Strawberry Basil Lemonade at Mick's Karma Bar 84. Lemongrass Chicken Salad at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop 85. Tofu Soup at Tasty Thai 86. Take-Out Dim Sum at Capital B.B.Q. and Dim Sum Express 87. Hodo Gwaja at Cocohodo 88. Popcorn Chicken Salad at Guppy House 89. Fried Okra at Memphis Soul Cafe & Bar 90. Salted Egg With Bitter Melon & Scrambled Egg at Tasty Noodle House 91. Boysenberry Lemonade from Bautista Creek Local Produce at SOCO Farmers' Market 92. Scallop Carpaccio with Curry Oil and Yuzu Vinaigrette from Cafe Hiro 93. White Board Specials at Taco Adobe 94. Coney Dog at LinX 95. Halal Pizzas from San Giovanni Pizzas 96. Clayuda at El Fortín 97. Lunch Buffet at Dosa Express 98. The Meats at Darya in Orange 99. Panocha at Taquería Zamora 100. Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco
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