For more than twenty years, the Trinh family's Pho Grand menu has been St. Louis' gateway from the familiar to the more adventurous aspects of Vietnamese cuisine, like fried silkworms and squid teeth. While the restaurant isn't quite Americanized enough to put ketchup bottles on the table, you won't get a pile of traditional exotic, fragrant leaves like fish mint, culantro and perilla served with your pho (unless you ask for it). But you can expect to see herbs such as cilantro, basil, and spearmint at this politely attentive place. Many dishes hook you, preparing you for new Southeast Asian highs. In banh cuon thit nuong, the soft rice-flour crêpes boast a flavor profile of pure addiction, filled with ground pork, cloud ear mushrooms, onions and a sweet, garlicky nuoc cham dipping sauce. Next up is banh xeo, a.k.a. "Happy Pancake," a crisp and cheerful counterpoint to the decadence that came before it. The menu offers a lot of latitude for exploration while you're buzzed on the cafe sua da, iced chicory coffee made deliciously viscous with sweetened condensed milk.
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