Mention Vietnamese cuisine and the mental image that probably comes to mind is a steaming bowl of pho, with chunks of soft, flavorful beef or chicken and a generous helping of sprouts and basil leaves on top. While it is definitely a mouth-watering picture, Xoi is here to prove that Vietnamese cuisine is not all about pho.
Owned by partners Natasha Morse and Chef Danny Vu, Xoi is a refreshing take on the lesser-known gems of Vietnamese cuisine. Their aim is to cultivate the tastes of the Filipino palate, to show that the scope of Vietnamese cuisine goes above and beyond a bowl of noodle soup. Chef Danny, a self-taught Vietnamese chef, used to man the kitchens at Thanh Long, a San Francisco restaurant famed for its roasted Dungeness crab and garlic noodles. In fact, he includes Hollywood movie stars and Filipino dignitaries as part of his clientele!
Aside from Chinese influences, Vietnamese cuisine also draws inspiration from the French, owing to their long period of colonization. While dishes like Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) are still on the menu, the Saigon Banh Xeo is a sizzling crepe with mushrooms, chicken, shrimp and onions that is wrapped in lettuce leaves and eaten like our local lumpia.
Perhaps the crowning glory of all the dishes served at Xoi would be Chef Danny’s signature garlicky crab. Often imitated but never duplicated by many crab shacks here in the Philippines, Chef Danny uses local crabs (which are smaller but more flavorful than the Dungeness variety) and serves them “naked,” meaning the crab meat is already shucked and cooked to perfection. Served alongside a heaping serving of fried garlic noodles, this is truly a dish that will have you raving about it for days.
So, the next time you want a dining experience that is out of the ordinary, come to Xoi for a little bit of authentic Vietnamese fare.