I ate fake meat. And I did not hate it. Seriously, mock duck. The texture was bizarre, a mix between really fatty poultry and jello. I honestly can’t do it justice, but it was GOOD. It was ducky. I ate vegan, and I didn’t die. Teacup and I were just bumming around, getting ready to run stairs after a crazy crazy day of work, when Teacup’s buddy Emily came bounding up the stairs and announced “I HAD A BAD DAY BUT I GOT MY TAX REFUND SO LET’S GET DINNER I’M BUYING.” Oh, those magical words. I’M BUYING. I was in. Emily, Teacup, Staci and I heaped into Emily’s car and drove way down into the highlands for one of the coolest dinners I’ve ever eaten, at Vietnam Kitchen. It’s this little hole in the wall Vietnamese place with an expansive menu (that has lots of vegan and veggie options, as well as regular old meaty options) and sweet and really helpful staff, and speedy service.
Now I should explain: Emily and Staci are vegans, and usually that “V” word brings a boo hiss into my voice. I LOVE MEAT. I do not know how to make this clearer. MEAT IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL. We started off dinner with some chicken skewers in thick savory peanut sauce, and some dumplings like little folded pillows. Staci and Emily both got these vegan spring rolls that were cold and crunchy, and Emily remarked that the rice paper on the outside had the basic texture of a condom—a delicious condom. I DON’T KNOW ABOUT ALL THAT BUT THE SPRING ROLL WAS YUMMY.
Three of us got the mock duck described above, and I have to say portion size was great. The food came in these glorious little silver serving dishes with covers, which sent me into a version of “BE OUR GUEST” that probably embarrassed everyone. The mock duck was fantastic, and the verdant green beans that accompanied it were no less dynamite.
The beverages were my absolute favorite. That cool coconut milk with the damp, sweet ribbons of coconut threaded around the ice—perfection. Like drinking moonlight on a spring evening. They gave us this cup full of thick sweetened condensed milk with a tiny french press full of strong coffee suspended over it, and after all the coffee dripped down into the milk we mixed it and poured it over ice—syrupy, strong—what a flavor.
Vietnam Kitchen also has a freakin avocado milkshake, which I wanted to try but I was already having a fat day. I did try a couple bites of the black eyed pea rice pudding, and whoddathunkit, but it was good. Bland is usually a negative word, but in this case the usual bland flavor of rice really brought something different out about the black eyed peas.
In a way, getting to know the Vietnam kitchen was like getting to know Emily herself. She is a feirce explosion of a person who drives like a maniac (I had a mini panic attack in Teacup’s living room after driving with her) maintains a vegan lifestyle, and explodes into this magnificent grin at the slightest provocation. Vietnam Kitchen was quirky, with rounded tastes and nooks and crannies of interest (avocado milkshake, anyone?) but I left in love. Do one thing a day that scares you. My thing today was eating fake meat. What’s yours going to be?