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For much of the United States, ethnic cuisine is no longer the unfamiliar or strange food that one only samples when traveling the world. In fact, for most of mainstream America, there is a comfortable familiarity with many ethnic cuisines that is reflective of the melting pot nature of our country.
For Vietnamese cuisine, travel to even a small town in the Midwest, and it's likely that someone will be a fan of pho, the popular Vietnamese noodle soup. Banh mi, the french baguette-inspired Vietnamese sandwich, is another rising Vietnamese food item, and it's not uncommon to see both make appearances in mainstream publications.
Having traveled to Vietnam and recently read CNN's excellent food feature on 40 Delicious Vietnamese dishes to try in Vietnam, I was inspired to do some exploration of my own.
San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is home to the largest Vietnamese population in the United States, and 'Little Saigon,' the affectionately named business district of San Jose is home to numerous Vietnamese restaurants and shops. Would I be able to find those delicious 40 CNN dishes in my own backyard?
In short, yes. For the adventurous eater and for those willing to try and sample without necessarily knowing what every ingredient is, a culinary journey of fantastic foods is within easy reach. In this Microguide, you can check out a sampling of unique Vietnamese foods that are probably foreign to most.
While native Vietnamese may grin or even snicker at such a simple list for their cuisine, for the rest of us, it may just be our entry into learning a new cuisine type and going beyond (pho and) banh mi.