Pho Horn’s

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Pho Horn’s – Pawtucket, RI

I may have not held vigil when my restaurant friend Phở Paradise closed in Providence, but I still shed a salty, soupy tear while sitting there in an empty parking lot, reminiscing of the bygone days of broth and banh pho.

My pity party was short-lived because Rhode Island maintains a rich and vibrant Asian American population that tops 34,000 strong, and represents 3.2% of the total population. That means that the likelihood of other Vietnamese restaurants proudly serving bowls of bliss are high.

Phở Horn’s is no stranger to the Vietnamese restaurant community. From img_1731

Woonsocket to the East Bay, and as far south as Westerly, their Phở is worth the drive.

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Pho Horn’s – Pawtucket, RI

Phở originated in the early 20th century and was originally sold at dawn and dusk by roaming street vendors in Northern Vietnam. They shouldered mobile kitchens using  poles to hang wooden cabinets with soup, noodles, spices, and the necessary cookware to serve a composed bowl of phở.

Phở Horn’s is modestly appointed and focuses on the quality of the food and the cleanliness of the atmosphere. Quite frankly, these two reviewer considerations are paramount. In the spirit of sanitation, always follow this simple rule: if the bathroom is dirty, the kitchen is too!

Phở Horn’s maintains an extensive menu featuring a variety of soups, appetizers, noodle dishes, as well as beef, pork, chicken, seafood and vegetarian entrees.

I might have been late to the proverbial party, but I know when I’ve hit liquid gold.  Phở Horn’s is wicked thơm ngon!

 

 

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Bayon Cafe

Nam Yaa Soup - Bayon Cafe

Nam Yaa Soup – Bayon Cafe

Cambodian chefs and cooks are masterful in the art of spice blending. Pungent spices such as clove, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and turmeric are typical in southeast Asian cuisine, but when expertly combined into pastes (aka kroeung) using native ingredients like galangal, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, cilantro, and kaffir lime leaves, the results are distinctly Cambodian!

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In Rhode Island, Cambodian residents makes up the largest percentage of the Southeast Asian population. Approximately 85% of our Cambodian neighbors live in Providence and Cranston, so it should come as no surprise that excellence in Khmer cuisine is tempting the masses.

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Cue Bayon Cafe, (ហាងកាហ្វេបាយ័ន) applause please! Hidden in plain view on Reservoir Ave is a wicked fine find. I wish  I could speak of accidentally stumbling across this unassuming little restaurant in my travels, but I was thankfully invited without fanfare.

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Under the watchful eye of Chef Bopha, the shining star dish was the Nam Yaa Soup (curry, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and garlic). What Phở is to the Vietnamese, and Chicken Soup is to the Jews, Nam Yaa is the blissful and medicinal elixir that will cure what ails ya. With or without ramen, this bold flavored and spicy broth just made my day more memorable.

Grilled Salmon Fillet – Bayon Cafe

The Grilled Salmon Fillet, served with a sweet tamarind sauce was an excellent pairing. Salmon is often a stronger tasting fish and was successfully balanced with a sweet and savory element. Garnished so attractively on the plate, the dish was bright and inviting. In addition to the tamarind sauce, there is optional sauce – curry “Choo Chee.” I’m not sure what “Choo Chee” is, but it’s fun to say it out loud without getting in trouble.

Natang – Bayon Cafe

My absolute favorite was the Natang. Ground pork is a bland protein which requires thoughtful preparation in order for unique flavor profiles to be developed. The addition of coconut milk changes everything. As a person who does not enjoy coconut, Cambodian cooking makes me eat my words. Add in the crunchy rice crackers for dipping, and you’ve got yourself a party.

Bayon Wings

Of course you’ve had wings before, but have you tried the Bayon Wings? The wings are gently tossed in a mild lemongrass sauce and garnished with fresh jalapenos. The wings were crunchy on the outside and tender and juicy within.

Khmer Warriors

The Tuk Tuk Noodles (flat noodles stir fried with a protein, vegetables, egg, and a curry coconut sauce) were a standout in both taste and texture. I believe a Tuk Tuk is a type of  a small trailer pulled by a cyclist and a pleasant way of touring the Angkor temples in Cambodia. How this translates to a damn fine noodle dish is anyone’s guess.

The Bayon Cafe is simply appointed and noticeably clean. The service is attentive and warmly delivered.  The menu is ideally limited to that which Bayon can expertly prepare, and offers a reasonably affordable price point.

bayonI feel fortunate that there exists diverse populations and accommodating restaurants such as the Bayon Cafe in my neighborhood. Adventures in dining can only be made possible when there exists a need. When the dining public becomes accustomed to chain-food dining, the flavor profiles are reduced to salt and sugar. The cooking methods are reduced to frying, and landscape falls victim to a cookie cutter design. Nothing could be less interesting than this.

Head over to the Bayon Cafe, “tuk” in, order a large bowl of Nam Yaa, sit back and relax. Good things are likely…


Bayon Café | 745 Reservoir Avenue | Cranston, RI 02910 | 401-943-1728

ខ្ញុំស្រឡាញ់កន្លែងនេះ

Extra Info: Built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia.

The Nook Coffee House

ForkintheRhode.com

ForkintheRhode.com

It’s never easy being the new Barista on the block is it? When your neighbors are Starbucks and Main Street Coffee, it can feel debilitating. It’s not like anyone kicked grinds in your face, but you feel small. The truth is that being new and small may have its advantages!

ForkintheRhode.com

ForkintheRhode.com

If I’ve learned anything as a consumer, it’s that similarity in product is often easy to find, but an excellent customer experience is not. When you can pair quality products with a memorable and enjoyable experience, then my friends, you’ve been to The Nook!

The coffee world is complicated. There are cup size decisions that require Rosetta Stone, and Java choices that demand Cliff notes on latte, espresso, cappuccino, café au lait, cortado, macchiato and even dirty chai (which quite frankly scares me).

ForkintheRhode.com

ForkintheRhode.com

Navigating this is all very exciting and generally satisfying, but to me, it all means nothing unless I can walk inside and feel welcome. At The Nook, the owner Shannon Wylie is reason why your experience will be a warm and inviting one.

Shannon’s pride is evident in every detail of her business, which includes the look and feel of the decor, the locally sourced coffee and tea products, and her infectious enthusiasm when developing relationships in the community.

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ForkintheRhode.com

I’m not sure whether Shannon is able to strike a perfect balance within the community because the business is small enough for her attentiveness to every detail, or just the fact that she’s so damn good at it, but in either case we benefit as consumers.

ForkintheRhode.com

ForkintheRhode.com

It is because of this that we should embrace The Nook as a welcome addition to Main Street East Greenwich, and feel fortunate that we may find something here that we don’t always get – a small town “hello” with our name attached to the end of it.

307 Main Street | East Greenwich, RI

nookcoffeehouse@gmail.com

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