Lunch for One: Viet Cafe's Spicy Beef Salad
This salad is a mountainous tangle of shredded carrots and beef, piled high atop a single piece of lettuce, the only form of green in the "salad". If you're in search of bold flavors, this Spicy Beef Salad ($12) from Viet Cafe delivers most satisfyingly. Thinly sliced beef (ask for it rare) is mixed with crushed peanuts, torn basil, and more diced chili peppers than you might expect. It's spicy—very spicy. But also bright and balanced, with a surprisingly good amount of beef. The salad is served cold, and I like it best with a bowl of white rice on the side. The nuoc nam-based dressing, pungent with fish sauce, garlic, and lime, is liberally employed and hot rice serves as the perfect starchy sponge to complete your meal.
To cool down, a cup of fresh coconut water with coconut meat should do the trick.