Monday, August 5, 2013

Adding Another Notch To My Vietnamese Noodle Belt: Mi Quang at Ngoc Mai

Mi Quang at Ngoc Mai

I finally got back to Ngoc Mai in the Tenderloin to try out the Central Vietnam noodle specialty known as Mi Quang, after being thwarted on  a previous attempt when the restaurant was closed for a month-long vacation.  Ngoc Mai is a family run jewel of a hole-in-the-wall which I earlier reported on for its Bun Bo Hue, considered by many to be the best in town.  The restaurant's owners are from Hue in Central Vietnam, so it figures that it may have the best (or possibly the only) version of Mi Quang in San Francisco.

Mi Quang is named for Quang Nam Province, and in fact means "Quang noodles."  It's fairly well described by Wikipedia as follows:
The dish is made with rice noodles tinted yellow with the use of turmeric. The proteins are usually shrimp, pork, chicken, or even fish and beef. The broth is made by simmering the meat in water or bone broth for a more intense flavor, seasoned with fish sauce, black pepper, shallot and garlic. Extras include hard-boiled egg, crushed peanuts, chả (Vietnamese steamed pork sausage), chili pepper or chilli sauce, fresh vegetables.... and pieces of toasted sesame rice crackers called "banh trang." Ingredients may vary, but peanuts and bánh tráng are most commonly found in Mì Quảng and make the dish unique amongst other noodle dishes.
It is served semi-"dry,"  with the noodles and toppings sitting in a shallow pool of the intense broth and a small bowl of broth on the side to be added as desired after stirring or tossing the ingredients. In some respects, mi Quang is similar to hu tieu Nam Vang and overall, the experience of constructing and eating my mi Quang was similar to that I described for the latter dish when I enjoyed it at Ha Nam Ninh; in the case of the mi Quang, I found the toppings less luxuriant but the broth more compellingly intense than for the hu tieu Nam Vang. On balance, both noodle types make for a very rewarding midday repast, especially for those of us in our second childhood who like to play with our food.  

The DayGlo yellow noodles are rice noodles colored with turmeric

Where slurped: Ngoc Mai, 547 Hyde Street, Tenderloin, San Francisco

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