District One Kitchen & Bar

District One Kitchen & Bar
3400 S Jones Blvd., Ste 8
Las Vegas, NV 89146


District One in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (a.k.a. Saigon for ya old schoolers) is the hip district to be in Vietnam. It’s the most industrial and even has it’s own Rodeo Drive-esque area to shop in.

Bring this back to District One Kitchen & Bar in Las Vegas. It’s hip. It’s new. It’s a twist on Vietnamese food. While our parents generation may complain that portion sizes are small (really?) and it’s too expensive (*tsk tsk to us spendy American born children), but I find it a refreshing spin on food that wasn’t necessarily viewed as trendy before. Looking around the restaurant, it brings in people from all walks of life to enjoy fresh, tasty foods with inspired by vibrant colors and tastes of Vietnamese food. Go try it yourself. Just don’t bring your immigrant parents. 😉

menu special fried rice zoom in razer clams clams mini bowl of bbh

Recipe: 9+ Layer Rice Cake (Savory)

9+ Layer Rice Cake (Savory)

Spent another day with Grand Aunt learning how to make her famous steamed 9 layer rice cake (about 11-12 really). It has flavorful topping of pork, shrimp, mushrooms and onions on top with a delicate thin layers of glutinous rice cake. It’s a chewy and savory mouthful, and when combined with Aunt Cindy’s famous Nuoc Cham (a.k.a. Vietnamese dipping sauce). It combines savory, sweet, tangy and chewy all in one glorious bite. A meal great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I can attest to that because Grand Aunt gave me so much that I did have it for all 3 meals!

True to Grand Aunt’s style of cooking in bulk production… Here we go!

Large Pans
BIG steamers (so big it fits a small child)
Large Wok (also fits a small child)

Ingredients for the rice layers:
9.5 lbs Glutinous Rice soaked for 10+ hours and rinsed halfway through soaking time
1 ladle full Onion Oil (for better savory flavor and smoother texture)
1/2 ladle Salt

Ingredients for savory topping:
2.5 lb ground pork loin
2 lb shrimp
3 onions (drip dry)
1/2 lb red onion
1/2 lb mushroom
~1/4 lb garlic
Chicken Bouillon
Cooking Wine
Sesame Oil
Oyster Sauce

Method for rice layers:

Blending glutinous rice 1 Blending glutinous rice 2 Prepping steamers Coat pans with oil Coat pans with oil 2

1. Blend glutinous rice until completely smooth/fine
2. Add water until texture on ladle looks like…
Add water until

3. Season with onion oil and salt
Finished blending Season with salt Add oil

4. Grease pans with onion oil and set into steamer
Ended with total approx 12 L Metal bowl to measure liquid for layers Pouring the layers 10 minutes per layer Rotate pan for even layers

5. Pour even amounts of mixture into pan and steam for 10 minutes each layer until pan is filled
6. Rotate pans every so often to ensure even layers

Method for savory topping:

3 Onions Red Onions Food process shrimp + red onions + garlic Shitake Mushroom Pork

1. Food process shrimp, garlic and shallots together, so that the shrimp does not stick to each other
2. Food process mushrooms and onions individually
Getting ready to cook Fire power! Cooking shrimp Cooking pork Pork in colander

3. Stir fry shrimp mixture on high heat and season with salt, pepper and cooking wine. Set aside.
4. Stir fry pork and season with salt and cooking wine. Place in colander and set aside to drip off fat.
5. Stir fry onion and proceed to add in mushroom. At this point, okay to add more water to onion and mushroom if it seems dry. Add in cooked pork and shrimp. At the final seasoning stage, season with chicken bouillon, sesame oil, oyster sauce (~ 4 Tbs-ish?), pepper, and sugar. Set aside.

Final step:

Spreading toppings Finished product 1 Two large pans

Once all layers of rice cake are steamed, spread meat mixture evenly and steam for 10 additional minutes.

Serve hot or cooled with Nuoc Cham!

Final product

Thanks Grant Aunt / Yi Po for the cooking lesson!

Recipe: Nuoc Cham

Nuoc Cham

Aunt Cindy is the cool aunt known for fabulous food. Among her famous are beautiful Asian style fruit cakes that taste even better than the “professional” bakeries, but Grand aunt tipped me off that she has the best recipe for Nuoc cham. It is a type of Vietnamese dipping sauce that is tangy, sweet and umami all in a few drops. She shared me her recipe along with a few tips. Enjoy!

N??c ch?m

1. 1 cup fish sauce / nuoc mam (recommend 3 crab brand)
2. 1 1/2 cup sugar
3. 3 cup water
4. 1/3 cup vinegar
Optional – Fresh lime juice for more tangy flavor

Method (if eating same day):
Mix all ingredients together. Add freshly minced garlic, chilis and lime juice to taste.

Method (if prepping to store):
Bring fish sauce, sugar and water to boil. Allow to cool. Stir in vinegar after solution is cooled to maintain optimal tangy flavor. Add freshly minced garlic, chilis and lime juice to taste on the day you plan on using it.

Recipe: Cha Gio (Vietnamese Eggrolls)

Cha Gio (Vietnamese Eggrolls)

Growing up I had the pleasure of eating food from two cultures – Vietnamese and Chinese. Growing up Cha Gio otherwise known as eggrolls were made for birthday parties and family get togethers. So, it was always a treat to have them. Of course, as a child, we all grow accustomed to the certain styles our parents cook. In my case, I always preferred my mom’s ratio of meats to seafood to vegetables in her egg rolls, so here I’ll share with you my mom’s recipe for eggrolls.

Vietnamese Style Egg Rolls by Mom

Pork Shoulder Butt The List Egg Roll Wrappers Dried Black Fungus Vermicelli

Food process all these ingredients but the lump crab meat:
1-2 lb. shrimp (optimally 2:3 ratio of shrimp to pork)
1 lb. pork shoulder (fat trimmed)
1 lb. crab meat (freshly steamed from whole crab preferred)

Food processing the shrimp Crab meat Food processing the pork Chopping vermicelli Removing moisture from shrimp Chopped ingredients

Finely chop:
1 package dried black fungus, rinse, soak overnight, trim stems
1-2 small/medium Jicama (smoother and smaller is better)
2 yellow onions
1-2 rolls of vermicelli
1 carrot for color

Approximate seasonings to the meat filling:
4 tsp of salt
3 tsp of sugar
Pepper to taste
2 beaten eggs
Makes 100 egg rolls

Egg roll Wrapper Sealant:
Prep tapioca starch and water – stir until thickened. Approx 1:10 starch to water ratio.

Bot Nang Cooking tapioca starch with water Thick

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Put your back into it.

Getting ready to mix Mixing

Wrap ‘em up in egg roll wrappers
Meat mixture placement Partial roll Fold the flaps in Deep frying Taste test The get up

Fry at 350 degrees in peanut oil until floating and golden about 11-12 minutes. Serve hot and fresh with your favorite vegetables and nuoc cham (fish sauce). Enjoy!

The spread

1. Rid of excess moisture in all ingredients before incorporating together to minimize bubbling of the egg roll wrapper when deep frying. So, Mom literally squeezes the moisture or of the veggies, shrimp, fungus, etc.
2. The trick to wrapping it – Place meat almost in middle. Tuck the wrapper snug so there are no air pockets. Roll partial way until you see the second layer and then fold side flaps to equalize thickness and minimize jutting corners. Finish rolling and seal. Don’t be overzealous like me, and add too much sealant. It will cause the other rolls to stick together in the pile.
3. Why no egg for binder in the mixture? Supposedly the egg rolls fry better without it – something about affecting the oil, too.
4. Why no egg yolk to seal the egg roll wrapper? Supposedly the tapioca starch mixture will not affect the frying oil as much and looks better
5. If you want the real deal holyfield with rice paper, mom says you will need to wrap and deep fry immediately. The advantage with the egg roll wrappers is that you can wait to deep fry.
6. Do not overcrowd your deep fryer because it will decrease the optimal frying temperature.

Recipe: Comforting Goodness, Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup)

Pho Ga

Happy new year, everyone! It’s a brand new year, and how about starting with some healthy comfort food? Because I grew up on Vietnamese noodles soups, they have become my go to comfort food, and I have since converted my husband to share this same mentality. Of course, many cultures share the same comfort food – CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP, so I’m going to share my mom’s recipe for Vietnamese style noodle soup. It’s warm. It’s tasty. It’s belly warming good. Enjoy! (Please, note that all measurements are approximate. Mom said to use your sense of taste for the everything!)

Finished Product


Pork Loin Soup Bones Whole Chicken Trimming the fat

1 Whole Chicken (preferably organic/free-range)
5 lbs of pork soup bones (trimmed of fat)
Banh Pho Tuoi (Pho noodles)


2 TB fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt + more for rubbing the chicken down
3 tsp chicken bouillon


Chopped green onion
Chopped cilantro
Deep fried onions (recipe to come from Grandaunt)
Drizzle of sesame oil

    Preparing the soup stock:

Parboil BonesParboil 2

1. Parboil the pork bones. Cook from cold water and bring to boil. Rapid boil for about 5 minutes. Rinse clean.
2. Add bones to fresh water in stock pot and simmer bones for a minimum 4 hrs

    Preparing the chicken:

Rinse chicken Rinse chicken 2 Drip Dry chicken Rub chicken with salt

1. Wash and dry chicken
2. Rub the insides and outside of the chicken with salt
3. Bring soup stock to boil
4. Place chicken in broth and bring back to boil
5. Turn heat off and set for 45 minutes (can be more or less depending on size of chicken)
6. Restaurant Method: Remove chicken from stock and cool down completely in ice bath to allow for chicken meat texture to be more smooth. Mom Method: Immediately rub chicken down with salt.
In goes the chicken It's done! Ice bath

7. Drip dry (Try to stand chicken vertically with cavity facing down)
8. Shred chicken meat into strips
Shredded chicken Nuoc Mam - Fish Sauce Brown Sugar

9. Bring soup stock back to boil and season to taste

    Assembling the bowl (your mis en place *snicker):

Cilantro and Green Onion Cooking the Banh Pho Tuoi Pre-soup

– Cooked noodles, shredded chicken, fried onions, chopped cilantro, green onion, drizzle of sesame oil
– Ladle hot soup stock and viola!
Finished Product

– If you boiled too rapidly and the soup is cloudy, an onion thrown in during the simmer will fix it and decrease the cloudiness.
– When you are cleaning the chicken, don’t be afraid to literally squeeze the snot out of the chicken.
– Allow chicken to come close to room temp before placing into soup stock to allow for even cooking

Ngon Qua!

Nha Trang Restaurant
4860 W Desert Inn Rd Ste 9
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(702) 733-0015

By chance, I found this restaurant’s menu at my local pharmacist who is also bomb btw (http://www.yelp.com/biz/procare-pharmacy-las-vegas#hrid:-e7bvzyj0QfiAB5f5vjC-g). They are located in the same plaza as I-Naba and not very hard to find at all. So hubbie and I decided to try something new because their menu was different than your usual Vietnamese Restaurant.

When we walked in, the hostess (owner?) greeted us kindly. She was very sweet and highlighted the popular items on the menu. As emphasized by the hostess, the food style has more emphasis with the cooking in central Vietnam (i.e. where Nha Trang is located). We were also served free nuoc mat! Sugar cane juice that was just sweet enough and who can complain about free?

Fresh nuoc mat - sugar cane juice Unique menu

Here’s what we had:
1. Goi cuon ca + tamarind sauce – spring roll with fish + bonus deep fried egg roll inside. The tamarind sauce was what made it. It was tangy and sweet and was perfectly paired with the flaky fried fish and fresh crunchy veggies. This was delicious!

Goi Cuon Ca Inside goodies of goi cuon ca Tamarind sauce

2. Pho Tai Bam Filet & Bo Vien – Pho with filet mignon and meatballs. This is the probably best Pho that I’ve had in Vegas (emphasizing the Vegas part, ya’ll). It’s full bodied with lots of herbalicious-pho flavor and if you like the soup on the sweeter side, this is it.
Pho Tai Bam Filet & Bo Vien

3. Banh Canh Tom Cua – Seafood soup with thick tapioca noodles. While it had plenty of Tom (shrimp), I’m not sure I saw too much Cua (crab). Nevertheless, it was still quite tasty and refreshing.
Banh Canh Tom Cua

Conclusion: Shining star was the goi cuon ca! Going back just for that and some refreshing nuoc mat!

$ to Value Ratio: 4/5 Beeps
Yummy Factor: 4.5/5 Beeps
Texture Satisfaction: 5/5 Beeps
Average beeps: 4.5 Beeps

Well Rounded Hole-in-the-wall Experience

Turtle Tower Restaurant
631 Larkin St
(between Eddy St & Ellis St)
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 409-3333

This was a well rounded hole-in-the-wall experience. Driving into the the neighborhood, my brother mentioned that this area had a lot of crack heads. Being the sheltered girl that I am, I expected maybe a few bums here and there, but I was incorrect. There were bums on every corner, which made this eating experience even more unique (more on that later). We found our way to Turtle Tower Restaurant on a corner near Lee’s Sandwich.

We went in expecting us some fantastic noodle soups and we got it, along with the perfect hole-in-the-wall experience. Here’s what we experienced:
1. Pho Tai – Perfectly beefy broth
2. Pho Ga – The essence of chicken was well infused into the soup. This was not heavily MSG laden and the chicken even had a hint of being free range? mmmmmm
3. Goi Cuon – Freshly rolled with a my preferred ratio of more lettuce/greens to bun/vermicelli and a few bits of pork and shrimp. Classic combination with classic peanut sauce.

Add in the charming qualities…
1. Worn in feel of the interior
2. Random homeless man bursting in and asking for hot chocolate. Instantaneous street cred’ in this place!
3. Word on the street (aka my brother and sister-in-law who just met the owners on a ski trip) that this is a family run business. Gotta give extra puntos to the mom-pops!

Conclusion: Got the hankering for the real deal noodles soups? Well here it is!

Turtle Tower Restaurant Menu Pho Ga Pho Tai Spring Roll

Bosa 1

Bosa 1
3400 S Jones Blvd, Ste 2A
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 418-1931

UPDATE 10/1/2012: Bosa 1 is now Pho Bosa at 3355 Spring Mountain Rd. LAS VEGAS, NV 89102. They are just off of Spring Mountain on Polaris next to Bikini Bar. Air conditioning is working. Space is plentiful and food is delicious! All the favorites are back (Bun Bo Hue, Bun Rieu), along with the availability of Pho now. Look out for delicious dessert offerings to come because Vanessa has learned new tricks in Vietnam.

With such a wonderfully fobby name, I just had to try it. We were first disappointed by the slightly higher price point as compared to other Vietnamese restaurants in the area, but most of the time, as long as it tastes extra good, price can be overlooked in my book.

What we shared for lunch
1. Nem Nuong Cuon – Spring rolls with a vietnamese sausage. I enjoyed the flavor of the nem nuong + the extra BONUS of the crispy deep fried dough in there. The dipping sauce that came with was reminiscent of Brodard’s in Westminster. It was definitely not hoisin sauce heavy, but it had its own refreshing sweet appeal.
2. Bun Bo Hue – This was in LARGE print right as you opened the menu, so we figured that it was a sign to try it. We were not disappointed. I would have to say one of the better bun bo hue’s in town and we were very impressed with the appropriate accompaniments of veggies – finely shredded various cabbages and herbs like freshly chopped rau ram (Vietnamese coriander)

Nem Nuong Cuon Bun Bo Hue Shredded veggies including fragrant rau ram Inside of Nem Nuong cuon plus bonus deep fried crunchy

Conclusion: Minus puntos for being more expensive than other Vietnamese restaurants in the area. Minus puntos for being slightly stuffy and hot for a Las Vegas summer. (Sorry for the next person who has to sit in my sweatiness….ew…sorry bad imagery.) Plus puntos for having very tasty Bun Bo Hue with the fragrant veggie accompaniments and crunchy bonus in our nem nuong cuon. Also, it can’t hurt to have a fob-a-licious clever restaurant name. Overall, I will return when I need my Bun Bo Hue fix. 3/5 beeperoos.