Many thanks to Carb Lover (and everyone else) who recommended Vung Tau, and the dishes we tried tonight. Three of us just had dinner there, and enjoyed every bite! (Though the generous portions and my usual over-ordering ensured we now have tomorrow's anticipated lunch sitting in the fridge.)
Two appetizers, a salad, and two dishes are a bit too much for three hungry people, and we probably horrified the willowy young couple nearby who ordered a salad and two bowls of soup.
Cha gio--six pieces about double the size the usual cha gio with about double the flavor. Delicious, though I'd have preferred 12 smaller ones.$7.75
Banh Khot--rice flour "cupcakes" with shrimp, scallions, and the taste of coconut milk. Hubby's favorite, though I'd have liked more textural contrast with a crisper exterior. $7.50
Banh Hoi Bo Goi La Chuoi--Lemongrass beef in banana leaves with rice vermicelli sheet and greens. $10.50
Goi Ngo Sen Tom Thit--A very refreshing lotus root salad with thinly sliced pork and shrimp, lightly scented with mint and served with large shrimp crackers. $10.50
Thit Kho Tan Dua Gia--Pork belly, melt-in-your-mouth skin included (Carb Lover, thanks for pointing out that the menu is mislabeled--we much prefer pork belly to shoulder), in a rich fish sauce-laced broth touched with lemongrass. $9.50
We would certainly order everything all over again, though the pork and lotus root salad would be the ones requested most urgently, with the banh khot coming in next.
We had actually been to Vung Tau a month ago, but there were only two not-very-hungry people, and we only ordered 2 dishes: curried chicken and caramelized fish. I have to confess to a lack of enthusiasm for most forms of curried chicken, but I enjoyed the caramelized fish, which wasn't as sweet as the version at Pagolac. (Incidentally, the lotus root salad was infinitely better at Vung Tau than at Pagolac. Vung Tau's lotus root was fresher tasting, and more tender, and there was more pork and shrimp, too.)