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October 07, 2004
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Hue Thai's Famous French Sandwiches

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HUE THAI'S FAMOUS FRENCH SANDWICHES
5115 Spring Mountain Road #223
Las Vegas, NV 89146
942.8872

Who would ever guess that Hue Thai's Famous French Sandwiches is a Vietnamese Restaurant? Well the Asian-Americans who packed the place daily seem to have known that from the get go, but it was a shockeroo of fusion confusion to me. And now, after eating there five times in two weeks, I'm still not sure what to make of the food, since some of it is tasty, some of it is bland and a lot of it is weird. According the menu-"high flavored Eurasian cuisine," is the specialty of the house, but that ungrammatical tout is a bit of a stretch. The only Euro-influences I found were the long loaves of French Bread that very Vietnamese ingredients were put into....sometimes to good effect, sometimes not.

All I know about Vietnam is that it's hot.... and humid and its food is some of the lightest, freshest, least caloric and most herb and vegetable-rich in all of Asia. By virtue of a high draft lottery number in 1971, I never had the privilege of actually eating Vietnamese food in Vietnam, but I've learned over the years that, if you wish to swim in the deep end of this cuisine, you'd better have a taste for fermented fish sauce....which oddly, I do.

But liking certain flavors does not an expert make, so when I say I don't like certain things at Hue Thai's it's probably because I don't get it. You know get it as in: you have to GET America, before understanding our love of Flinstonean Prime Ribs, Bud Light and NASCAR.

Ya you definitely have to be Vietnamese to get such bizarre comestibles as the headcheese on the House Special Sandwich-which is positively scary, or the mini-rice pancakes and flour sheet rolls. Gobs and globs of this stickey white stuff---think edible GAAK-accompany many of the special dishes, and it's so bland it makes Wonder Bread seem like a double-stuffed pepperoni pizza. But the homeboys and gals can't get enough of the sticky stuff, and they love the grilled pork meatballs, which resemble nothing so much as bland spam, so who am I to argue? Those Famous French sandwiches are made with the world's oddest cold cuts, or some good marinated beef or pork, combined with pickled vegetables and some leafy herbs. Slap 'em on a French Roll, and VOILA the world (or at least our local Vietnamese community) will beat a path to your door.

Besides the oddball food, what you mostly get here is the feeling you are chowing down the way the natives do in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, or Garden Grove California, the biggest little Vietnamese community in America. And that alone is worth the trip, even if you don't get it.

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