Wednesday, April 1, 2009


After living in the U.S. for 22 years, my parents prefer Vietnamese food over Chinese food this side of the ocean. Why can't Chinese restaurants in the states prepare a dish without MSG or cornstarch? Show me a dish that's not covered in transparent gooey mess! Cornstarch is used to make the ingredients look fresh and stir-fried dishes look glossy, but to me, it's a sure sign of a lazy chef.

So the Asian cuisine that is to our liking in the U.S. is Vietnamese. There's also an occassional problem with the overuse of MSG, but at least the chefs tend to resist cornstarch.
The family usually goes for pho and banh mi, which all began in Hawaii at My Canh (1152 Maunakea St, Honolulu, HI 96817). That's until we came upon Sunflower in north Austin (8557 Research Blvd # 146, Austin, TX 78758). I suspect that the dishes served here are Northern Vietnamese because the restaurant's forte is in stir-fried dishes (intermingling with southern Chinese cuisine?).

You can not go to Sunflower without ordering Shaken Beef and Lemongrass Tofu. Those two dishes are indispensable. The Shaken Beef is tender with a subtley sweet coating (thin tamarind glaze?), and it comes with lime juice with black pepper on the side. I'm usually not an admirer of tofu because it does not retain flavor. Sunflower proves that tofu can be flavorful. I also love that they use firm tofu.

Shaken Beef
Lemongrass Tofu

All the dishes on Sunflower's menu are safe bets so take your pick after ordering the 2 must-haves.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee
Pineapple Soup with bean sprouts and tomatoes

Seafood Egg Crepe
Sizzling Cod in black bean sauce

Beef and Rice Claypot

Combination Flat Rice Noodle

Five Spice Chicken with salad

Green Beans and Tofu with salad and tofu spring roll

1 comment:

  1. Shaken beef and lemongrass tofu are my favorites. I will just order them every time...not being very creative, I know.