Jul 082019

This entry in my Ten-Buck Huntsville Yums post series is about the de facto national dish of Vietnam: pho! I first had pho in late 2002 and fell for it hard. For the past several years, the best pho in the area has been at Saigon, on Madison Boulevard in Madison.

Pho is a rice noodle soup of somewhat variable composition (and the Wikipedia topic contains an excellent history, if you are so inclined). The soup comes to your table with the noodles, onions, and meat. You also get a plate of Thai basil, cilantro, mung bean sprouts, sliced jalapenos, and lime to add to taste.

The first pho I had was pho dac biet—the most deluxe beef version of the soup, with flank steak, brisket, meatballs, tendon, and tripe. Today I prefer pho tai, which is similar but with only the flank steak. It’s sliced very thinly and dropped into the hot broth raw to cook.

Saigon’s pho tai. (Click for a closer look.)

I generally use most of the garnishes, and I also add a goodly dollop of sriracha. (The soup is not inherently spicy-hot.)

All garnished up and ready to mix! (Click to explore more closely.)

The spice blend is complex, including ginger, star anise, and coriander. Saigon’s seems to pop just a bit more vibrantly, and everything is always so fresh-looking and tasting.

If you already like pho, make haste! If you haven’t tried it yet, be warned: it’s gonna getcha! (And be ready to make a mess of your shirt eating your first few bowls!)

8760 Madison Boulevard, Madison (256-772-0202), open 11-9

 Posted by at 12:19 pm
Jun 242019

Today I continue my Ten-Buck Huntsville Yums post series with an old favorite that I have gone literally months on end eating for lunch every Tuesday: the Texas chili at Anaheim Chili.

Now in case you don’t know, proper Texas chili isn’t necessarily a soupy affair. You can still eat it with a spoon if you want, but it’s forkable too. This is “spicy pot roast,” as my friend and frequent Anaheim Chili companion Tommy calls it. Scott (proprietor and chef) has never told me exactly what’s in it, but I suspect it’s 98%+ chuck, white onions, and serrano peppers by weight.

And there is a kick. It won’t move a chilehead’s needle that much, but if you think Tabasco or Texas Pete is too hot, be advised that this will light you up. (If you do eat hot things occasionally, this is worth an “occasionally.”)

The longstanding offering is the Texas chili platter, with green rice and pinto beans.

Anaheim Chili’s Texas chili platter. (Click for a closer look.)

A couple of summers ago the Texas chili salad debuted, and it’s now available year-round too. The chili’s accompaniment includes greens, fried jalapenos, onions, roasted corn salsa, shredded cheddar, and ranch dressing.

Anaheim Chili’s Texas chili salad. (Click to explore more closely.)

They’re both hearty and marvelously flavorful meals, and I’m a threat to get either. Just depends on my mood. I do supplement with the house hot sauce (AC sauce) as well (shown at about 11:30 on the platter, and already applied on the salad).

Usually Texas chili is available only on Tuesday, and even if Jones Valley isn’t your neighborhood, it’s worth the trip. Sometimes it’s available other days. Typically the Facebook page will announce such.

It’s very difficult to make a mistake on the Anaheim Chili menu, but the Texas chili remains the top of the top. If you haven’t had it, make haste. If it’s been too long for you, go renew your affection!

Anaheim Chili
2030 Cecil Ashburn Dr. SE (256-489-5531), open 11-9

 Posted by at 9:42 am
Jun 102019

I’m excited to start a new post series on BoWilliams.com, featuring the best ways to spend $10 (or thereabouts) at Huntsville-area restaurants. Consistent, sustained excellence will be a hallmark of every item that makes this exclusive list. Kicking things off is the Kitchen Sink—the flagship sub sandwich of Stanlieo’s Sub Villa. Like Stanlieo’s itself, the […]

 Posted by at 8:42 am
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