James and I played hookey last Friday to see a matinee of the frothy fabulous foodie film Julie and Julia.
We planned the day out carefully – whether to go to the 1:30 or the 4:10 show, whether to go before or after certain chores were finished … and it came down to (as it always does) where we wanted to eat.
We’re in heavy-duty review mode for the next edition of our book, due out later this year, so at first we thought we’d check a restaurant off our list.
But as we headed into the theater, James stopped and said “Wait. We’re going to see a foodie movie, and I think it will make us very inspired and hungry. Do we really want to eat at the A*$ Hou$# afterwards? Chances are most things haven’t changed …”
He was right. We decided to go somewhere we know we’ll always have a good meal: A Saigon Cafe.
After watching Meryl Streep bring Julia Child back from the dead, a spontaneous foodie convention erupted amongst us and three other couples who sat all the way through the credits. After connecting over beef stew recipes and making sure we were all going to eat well that evening, James and I headed to Wailuku for a Vietnamese feast.
A Saigon Cafe is not for everyone. It’s a dump, it’s hard to find, and the waiters tease diners mercilessly. (If you ask for a fork, they pull the three-foot decorative wooden fork off the wall and bring it over.)
We’re glad it’s not for everyone, because it most definitely is for us. If you can find it, forgive the decades-old decor, take your cell phone back from the waiter (they like to steal them), and focus on the food, you’ve got world-class cuisine to relish.
We had our favorite meal, #76, rare beef fondue. They bring a firetrap of a fondue pot over to the table along with a platter of rare beef, sprouts, pickled veggies, lettuce, mint, and cucumbers. You cook, you dip your rice paper in warm water, and you roll. Heaven.
The calamari were overcooked that evening (pity), but the lemonade was, as always, perfectly light and refreshing. We skipped dessert and instead had a little ice cream at home (just got a new ice cream maker).
It was the perfect meal to follow that oh-so-inspiring movie.
It’s still playing on Maui if you’re on island.