Chow, Baby: Wednesday, March 20, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Mo’ Pho

For months now, Chow, Baby has made a point of driving by 3314 E. Lancaster regularly to see if the “Coming Soon” sign was yet promoted to a “Now Open.” Not yet, not yet, not yet, until finally — finally! — Pho 747 is open for business. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

Pho, wonderful pho, in Chow, Baby’s own neighborhood! The beef noodle soup (small but plenty, $3.74; exceedingly large, $4.47) comes with diner’s choice of eye-of-round, flank steak, soft tendon, tripe, or crunchy beef fat. As in most not-American cultures, here the meat is used as a flavoring rather than a main course. This explains Pho 747’s low prices on all of its Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. Beef chow fun — flank steak marinated in soy, sherry, and oyster sauce, tossed with bean sprouts and wide pan-fried noodles — was a mere $5.47; light, fresh spring rolls dotted with shrimp were $1.47 the pair.

Journalistic integrity required a hop over to Chow, Baby’s favorite Vietnamese place, Pho Nam on Belknap, for a taste comparison. Pho 747 is slightly less fabulous — but given that Chow, Baby’s house is the center of the universe, the new kid on the block triumphs on location, location, location.

Shrimp Tease

In Chow, Baby’s personal cookbook, the Devil’s Food Dictionary, popcorn shrimp is just the flotsam that’s left at the bottom of the fry basket after the real meal is prepared. Yet that dish turned out to be the highlight of a recent visit to the beach-shack patio at Shrimper’s, on University Dr. north of W. 7th. Fresh-tasting, whole shrimp — not bits ’n’ pieces — were dipped in a nice batter and crispy-fried but still tender ($6.95 with freedom fries or red beans). Only problem: They were on Chow, Baby’s companion’s plate, and he insisted on having some.

Fine. Chow, Baby slurped down its own fresh-shucked raw oysters ($6.95 a dozen), surprisingly plump and juicy for a month with an “R” in it, and took a bite of its shrimp remoulade ($9.25). Yech. There’s a sign somewhere in Shrimper’s that says it doesn’t use frozen seafood, and Chow, Baby doesn’t believe it. Chow, Baby also doesn’t believe in glopping on Thousand Island and calling it remoulade sauce.

Chow, Baby does believe it knows when it’s eating once-frozen salad shrimp drowned in salad dressing. But just to make sure, journalistic integrity required a hop over to Chow, Baby’s favorite seafood restaurant, R & O’s in the Bucktown section of New Orleans, for a taste comparison. Thanks to the high-speed miracles of the Chowbabymobile and the internet, Chow, Baby is filing this from the City that Care Forgot, happily digesting much-cheaper, much-better, real shrimp remoulade ($7.70) starring fresh, large shrimp in real, Creole-mustardy remoulade sauce. Though Chow, Baby will give Shrimper’s the points for more convenient location.


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