Last night, we ate 154 Vietnamese Cuisine in Petaluma, formerly the pricey, interesting, but IMHO a bit precious (and small-serving-serving) One-Fifty-Four. Knowing really nothing about how to order, we had the appetizer sampler, and then each of us ordered what turned out to be variations on the sampler. Happily, both of the waitresses were friendly, and one was particularly helpful when she saw that we were sort of deconstructing the meals instead of assembling them. The appetizer had what seemed like spring rolls cut into bite-size pieces, two large shrimp halved over a pleasingly spicy mound of fresh shredded vegetables, and grilled marinated meat on thin little rice noodles on pieces of lettuce--the idea was to treat these latter elements as wraps, dippable in the accompanying spicy sauce.
Tiresomely, I can't remember the names of the other two dishes we had, but each involved similar fried spring-roll-like yumbies--one set(vegetable)was served on a plate next to more pieces of fresh lettuce and mint, with a darker sauce, and one set (pork) was served in a bowl next to more tasty marinated and grilled meal over a bed of rice noodles and vegetables under that.
Apparently, with the food on the plate, we were also supposed to use the lettuce to make wraps to contain the mint and vegetable-roll bites, then dip them as we chose. And also, with the food in the bowl, we were supposed to take the sauce and stir it around with the other elements in the bowl before eating. The waitress very kindly and diplomatically explained this to us, then brought us flan and fried bananas for dessert--the flan was tiny and lovely, and the bananas were big and yummy--a whole banana cut crosswise in two, battered, and fried. We really enjoyed our dinner; it was fresh and fun, and the staff is clearly enthusiastic about what they offer. Now if I can ever figure out how to pronouce pho, I'll try that.
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