Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beef in 7 dishes at Au pagolac

Beef in 7 dishes or as we call Bò 7 món is very popular, esp. in South. I remember when I was a little boy, my mother used to take us together with some our cousins to a small but very busy restaurant in Pham Ngu Lao street, not far from Ben Thanh market (I hope my memory did not betray me!) to enjoy these seven dishes . But most memorable to me, among these 7 dishes, was "the beef dipping in vinegar" (bò nhúng giấm), probably because they served the dipping vinegar in a coconut, so we just dipped thin slices of beef into the boiling vinegar mixed with coconut juice.

              Beef in 7 dishes at Au Pagolac 

I just wonder why 7? like 7 world's wonders? Not any other number like 8 or 9? Actually, today we have duck, chicken, crab...also in 7 or even 9 dishes. Back to our famous "Bò 7 món", I haven't tried it for long, very long. From time to time we prepare only one or two from that 7 dishes at home but never 7 in a row. One of my friends insisted me to go as he wants to compare the two most famous brands: Ánh Hồng and Au Pagolac.

                     The most famous among 7: beef dipping in boiling vinegar...

         Not the coconut as in my memory but the small pot to boil the sweet vinegar for dipping... 

Just a little bit about the vinegar - dipping sauce. I don't know it's good or not to drink vinegar, but you better try it, after all beef has been dipped, the taste of this sauce is so sweet, slightly sour and very tasty. I really love it. I can finish even the whole pot without sharing with anyone.

                we quickly dip the raw beef into the boiling vinegar, wrap it with veggies and rice paper...  

Back to my friend, he said that he knows the owner of Ánh Hồng in US, and according to him "Bò 7 món" in US is much much better than here. I agreed as Vietnamese beef is far from the best and I don't think any restaurant will serve either American or Australian beef for this "7 dishes". Anyway we are here today not to compare but to talk about Au Pagolac.

                   The other 4 dishes of 7: grilled beef in betel leaf, in fat, in sate and steamed beef cake. 

This brand first appeared not in Saigon but in Tien Giang in early 1920s. Hundred years brand. The owner was an Indian immigrant, back to the early 20th century.  How he came up with 7 dishes - I have no idea but what I heard from my friend who also in his turn heard from the owner of famous Anh Hong in US, that the place where the Indian owner served his first beef dishes was near to a lake and not far from the lake there was a pagoda, so the Indian combined two elements to create a brand "Au Pagolac" (actually it's in French). Not very exciting but good to know!

              one of my favourites thanks to the special flavour from the betel leaf...

Along with the beef dipping in vinegar, grilled beef in betel leaf is also my favourite dish. I like the flavour of this betel leaf, it recalls me the image of a fence fully covered by this leaves near to my parents first house, I loved to squeeze the leaves in my hand and to smell the flavour...

             most dishes can be wrapped with veggies and rice paper but different dipping sauces... 

                I doubt that beefsteak is one of the original beef in 7 dishes...but they serve it at Au Pagolac. 

                 the last dish of 7 is a beef soup with tiny's just ok!  

                   Flan cake - a popular dessert made of cow milk, not one of 7 dishes.  

Au Pagolac not specialised in only "Beef in 7 dishes", they serve also different specialities. To be honest their "Beef in 7 dishes" is not the best in town, but it's good enough to taste and to know all 7 dishes at once. The portion for two is big enough for three of us even after a long and wet ride in a rainy Sunday evening. The price is good, just over 300.000 VND per portion for two, not including drinks.

So here is a place we visited, you can try.
Au Pagolac at 978 Trần Hưng Đạo, district 5, Saigon. 


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