I’m normally the kind of diner who plays enough by the rules that I wait patiently to ask for a paper napkin rather than grabbing one off a neighboring table or alert a waiter when he has forgotten a dish on the bill or undercharged.
But for a couple of years now I’ve been contemplating a restaurant infraction and finally decided to go through with it.
As I live in and often work around Decatur during the day, I often go out for a quick solo lunch. I almost always end up at Saigon Cafe, kind of by default. It’s fast, cheap and serves probably the most credible Asian food in the area. Being a creature of comfort-food habit, I usually get a bowl of pho (beef noodle soup) when it’s cold outside and bun thit nuong (rice vermicelli with cold vegetables and grilled meat) when it’s hot.
And for years — years — I’ve thought it would be great to remove the caramelized-into-candy wiggles of pork from the bowl and replace it with the smoky, crusty barbecued pork from Community Q BBQ in the next mini-mall over. I’ve thought about how nice that pork would taste with a dousing of nuoc cham sauce, a dab of red chile sambal and a few threads of pickled carrot in a tangle of noodles, cucumber and lettuce.
So I finally did it. Bought a quarter pound of meat, brought it in with me to Saigon Cafe, ordered my bun thit nuong, and when the waitress wasn’t looking, made the transfer. Holy porker, I was right! This Viet-cue mashup was the lunch of my dreams. True, it ended up costing me something like $18, but I had a lot of meat (both kinds) left over.
So I guess my next move is to come clean. I’ll ask first if I can transfer meat. If not, I’ve got a helluva picnic. Also, I think some Farm Burger pickled veggies might taste good in the mix.
- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog