500BestSquareBeef Fondued In Vinegar @ Hoa Hong 9 (Nine Roses)

Most New Orleans Vietnamese restaurant specialize in pho and dishes like it, and never get up to the level of cookery Nine Roses does. This dish is as delicious as it is fun. The server brings a pan of light stock with a good deal of vinegar in it, kept steaming hot over a Sterno burner. Also on the table are bowls of the usual greens and herbs, cool but cooked noodles, a plate of thinly-sliced beef (it looks like round to me), and a stack of what look like thin discs of plastic. These are rice pancakes. You soak them in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds to soften them, then make wrappers for all the other ingredients. As always in Vietnamese restaurants, there’s no definitive way of assembling all this: you just eat it any way you want, with squirts of hoisin, Sriracha, soy, and fish sauces. The nicest surprise was how good the broth becomes towards the end of the process, what with all that beef, onion, and vegetables it’s just simmers. A terrific and unique dish.

Hoa Hong 9 (Nine Roses). Gretna: 1100 Stephens. 504-366-7665.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.

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