Sherman's Food Adventures: Stateside

Stateside

To say I love to eat is not only an understatement, it is flatly stating the obvious.  Of course, breaking bread is best as a shared activity with either friends and/or family, but yah, it can be enjoyed alone too.  Generally, I tend to eat with the fam because I see them most often (like it should be???), however, eating out (or in) with various friends is a totally different experience.  Roughly once per month or two, I meet up with Areta, Maggi, Diana, David, Hanson, Joyce and Christina for interesting eats around town.  However, the last time we were at Verre, it was decided we do something different and head out-of-town for food.  We started off close with Seattle where we stopped by Stateside for brunch.

This Vietnamese fusion spot does their own take on familiar dishes including the Crispy Duck Fresh Rolls.  Rather than the usual salad roll, they took a fried duck spring roll and wrapped in herbs with an external layer of rice paper.  As a result, we got a surprise crunch to go with the chewy soft exterior.  There was plenty of duck and no filler in the spring roll itself, but the texture was rather mealy and lacking in natural meatiness.  Loved the fresh herbs as it added layers of aromatics.  Next, we tried the Pho Braised Beef Potstickers served with gingered black vinegar.  I'm not sure if these actually tasted like pho other than the star anise finish at the end.  I found the beef filling to be similar to the duck as it was mealy and almost a bit gummy.  The delicate wrapper was thin, al dente and crispy on the bottom.  Personally, I love black vinegar, so it was no problem for me.  However, some thought it was too strong for the dumpling.

One of my favourite dishes was the Crispy Sticky Rice Finger Sandwiches with chili-cumin pork or tofu and house fermented mustard greens.  Normally, when we find rice burgers and the sort, the concoction is usually dense and cumbersome to eat.  Not this one as it was almost "light" where the exterior was appealingly crispy while the rice was not packed too tightly.  Again, the pork shared the same texture as the other meats being mealy, but it was very flavorful with a nice kick and of course earthy cumin.  The mustard greens added a nice tang to balance the salty-spiciness.  Not sure if the accompanying dip actually went with the rice though.  Something more familiar, we had the Classic Banh Mi with housemade Vietnamese mortadella, chicken liver pâté, pork floss, pickled vegetables, cilantro, chili, cucumber, Maggi and mayo.  This was a fully loaded banh mi with most of the usual ingredients.  Ignoring that it cost $11.00, it was a solid sandwich.  The fact it had nearly double the amount of filling than ones found at banh mi shops increased both the flavor and robustness of the sandwich.


Now something that was definitely different was the Eggs Bao'nedict consisting of Canadian bacon filled golden steamed bun, poached eggs, hollandaise and pork floss.  I found the hollandaise to be creamy, yet not too rich while sporting noticeable saltiness from the Maggi.  Add in the bacon and pork floss, this was a bit overwhelming with the salt.  With that being said, I didn't dislike the dish as the eggs were perfect and the airy fried bao helped soak up all the sauce and yolk.  Stunningly beautiful, the Open-faced Golden Brown Omelette ate like a frittata. It sported gruyere and fines herbs with potato crunchies and crispy shallots.  We added country ham for $3.00 more.  I quite enjoyed this as the bottom and edges were crispy and nutty.  The flavors (cheesy and smoky) were predictably complimentary with each other (albeit salty) and the crunch from the potato on top kept textures consistent throughout.

For sorta dessert, we had the Hong Kong Style Charcoal Waffle with coconut-pandan syrup, mango jam and shaved almond.  I think the best part of the dish was the syrup as it was aromatic and purposefully sweet.  Combined with the mango jam and this was very tropical (like a Pina Colada).  We didn't get a whole lot of pandan though.  I thought the waffle was crispy enough on the outside and somewhat dense on the inside.  Now as you can ascertain, there was a certain Asian flair to the brunch service (in particular, Vietnamese).  Normally, fusion can fall flat and be con-fusion instead.  However, I thought there were some highlights for sure here.  At the same time, I think some of the other dishes could be further refined or re-imagined.  

The Good:
- Definitely different
- The more "Asian" items were good
- Attentive service

The Bad:
- A little on the salty side
- Meats had the same mealy texture for some reason

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