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Blossom Vietnamese in downtown

Cicely | Mar 31, 200607:56 PM

Just hit Blossom for lunch. The look is sort of "indochine moderne": a tall, boxy, industrial space with pale celadon walls, globular hanging lights reminiscent of paper lanterns, and simple, almost rustic dark wooden chairs and tables. I liked it. Somewhat loud rock music was on but seemed to sort of drift upward harmlessly. The crowd was a combination of suits, local hipsters and ordinary casual folk. I can't help comparing this place to Silverlake's Pho Cafe, a similarly laid-back hip, late-night spot serving mediocre Vietnamese fare.

My friend and I started with the shrimp fritters (banh tom co ngu). Having pictured crab-cake type things, we were a little startled to be presented with four shrimp, each apparently imprisoned in a mass of mini French fries.

The server told us we should wrap them in lettuce leaves (on the side, with shreds of carrot and daikon pickle and some cucumber) and dip into the sauce, one of those clear, tangy-sweet dipping sauces with chile flakes. I've never had this in a "real" Vietnamese restaurant, but it was outrageously tasty. I mean, French fries (ok, they were actually yams)! And shrimp! Fried! I couldn't exactly tell if they were seasoned... nothing aggressive... but it seemed really savory. Plus, the lettuce makes you feel like it's all healthy.

I then had pho tai, which was not bad ... broth wasn't terribly aromatic, no whiff of star anise. But it tasted more meaty than the watered-down stuff at Pho Cafe. Doctored up with a little hoisin and sriracha, it was fine. The noodles were kinda clumped together, which was a pain. Herb plate was just the basics: lime, sprouts and holy basil.

My friend had bun (cold noodles) with egg rolls and lemongrass steak, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

We both had ginger limeade, which turned out to be more gingery and less sweet than I had expected. Quite a kick.

Link: http://www.blossomrestaurant.com/

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