nom nom, nam!

Huong Viet received “Best Restaurant/Best Bargain Restaurant” Awards for the past five years from Washingtonian Magazine.

One of the greatest “perils” of reading and reviewing food-related books is hunger.  *pant, pant*

If the writing is tantalizing enough, this hunger surpasses mere curiosity and borders on obsession. After reading Noodle Pie, I had to had to had to try some Vietnamese food. And I couldn’t wait until I found the right brand of fish sauce to make some of the recipes included in the book — no, I had to try some right away, and wanted to sample Vietnamese cooking that was as authentic as could be found in the greater D.C. area.

Perhaps you’re wondering how I could have reached my dotage respectable middle age without ever having ventured into at least one Vietnamese restaurant. My life has been happily blessed with Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese, and Indian food aplenty, but never Vietnamese. I suppose since I wasn’t exposed to it growing up, it simply wasn’t on my food radar.

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serving up ruth starke’s noodle pie

“Food seemed to trigger the strongest memories for his father. As he strolled around, his nose was constantly twitching in appreciation.” ~ from Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke

In Noodle Pie, East meets West: Vietnamese pho and Aussie meat pie (photos by LiY!n and Filor).

Who could resist a book called Noodle Pie?

Certainly not me. I’m so glad that in January 2010, Kane Miller published an American edition of this funny, engaging, and yes, totally delicious middle grade novel by award-winning Australian author Ruth Starke.

It satisfied my cravings for a little armchair travel, colorful characters, a bounty of ethnic food and family togetherness. Moreover, it taught me a lot about Vietnamese culture as seen through the eyes of almost-twelve-year-old Andy Nguyen, who visits Hanoi with his father for the first time.


Andy is excited about his first plane ride, passport, and the chance to meet his dad’s side of the family. Growing up, he heard stories about how his father fled the country after the fall of Saigon and settled in Australia. It is a poignant visit for his dad, who’s anxious to be reunited with his family, but he’s beholden to them and painfully aware of their high expectations.

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