Minh Hoa Restaurant & Cajun Seafood: Vietnam in the Heartland

It’s always a treat to find good Asian food where you don’t quite expect it.

Recently, that unexpected place for me was Wichita, Kansas, where yes, I’d thought I’d find terrific steaks but Vietnamese? Never crossed my mind.

Now, no matter where I’ve been, be it little Strasburg, Virginia, or Boring, Oregon (yes, there is such a town and yes, I have been there), I expect to find decent Chinese food. (I’ve learned that any place in the U.S. tends to have a Chinese family hard at work somewhere churning out OK versions of General Tso’s chicken and kung pao beef.)

Any other kinds of Asian food, however, is a different matter. So I was pleasantly surprised to come across a restaurant in Wichita that served up not just Vietnamese — but good and less usual Vietnamese dishes.

You can read my full report on Minh Hoa Restaurant & Cajun Seafood in this weekend’s New York Times Travel section. But if you want to see more visuals, carry on reading here…

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Hong Kong: Sunday in the Sai Kung With Daphne

Sunday in Hong Kong and two sisters have nothing but empty hours and sunshine ahead of them.

The possibilities are plentiful — shall there be some dimsum? Or a lovely pork chop bun, perhaps? Because the day is beautiful, however, something outdoors becomes a must. Into a car we hop, squeezing through the city’s narrow, congested lanes, whizzing down a highway past thickets of toothpick -thin skyscrapers. Before long, there is a blur of greenery, squat shophouses, the sounds of children squealing.

As we tumble out, there is a smell. It’s the sea — and there is a vast expanse of it.

“I thought you would like Sai Kung,” Daphne says. And she is right, even if this is just the beginning.

We gather ourselves and amble on. Not so far away, a lively fish market awaits …

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Prelude to Paris


I’ve been thinking about Paris.

About bumping knees with Mike at the petite tables of the always-packed Bistrot Paul Bert. And wandering the streets in search of good bread. Or shoes. Or both.

So when it was announced that Recipe #4 of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge was brioche, I took it as a sign.

Sure, it seemed silly to be attempting to make brioche for the first time when in a matter of days, I’d be in the land of great brioche. But I wanted to understand it. Just last week, I’d made bagels for the first time, a Herculean task that helped me develop a mammoth respect for a bread I’d often overlooked at breakfast.

So, with one pound of butter and a carton of eggs in hand, I steeled my arteries and was ready to go.

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A View From The Road: Hong Kong Airport Food


All airport food should be this good: Taiwanese braised beef noodles (in a broth that’s heavy on star anise) with a big scoop of super-sour, minced pickled veggies at Hong Kong’s airport.

Take that, McDonald’s!

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Breakfast in Singapore


Now that the temperature is down to the 50s again in New York, all I can think about is breakfast in Singapore.

I can practically smell the curries. And the tameepok prawn and pork noodles topped with sliced, super-hot chilis. And the starchy "carrot cake" (actually made of radishes) with heaps of crimson chili paste mixed in. And the…

File this under the "you always want what you can't have" category: growing up in Singapore, I coveted big American breakfasts. Those pictures of Grand Slams at Denny's restaurants showing plates of towering pancakes, bacon and sunny-looking eggs would inspire great yearning in my stomach.

And yet the moment I set foot in the land of massive, sausage-and-pancake breakfasts, all I could think of was the roti pratas and tameepoks I'd left behind.

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