Dear Mr. Gold:
When I was in Vietnam, I had the most amazing tabletop barbecue, not the ubiquitous seven-course beef dinners you see around here, but with seafood and lemongrass-marinated chunks of meat which you grill at the table on small charcoal contraptions, wrap in thin rice paper with pickled vegetables and lettuce, and then dip in fish sauce. It was to-die-for good. I heard that Pho So 1 in Las Vegas has a very similar barbecue, but I can’t seem to locate one like that in L.A.
—Kathy, Santa Monica
Is there anything better than a Vietnamese seven-beef dinner, bo bay mon? I think not — the course of beef grilled with the la lot leaves is almost narcotizingly good. But most of the seven-beef places do tend to serve other things on the tabletop grills. I know Vietnam House in San Gabriel, my go-to seven-beef place, does: squid, shrimp, meat, the whole nine. And Phong Dinh, the baked-catfish specialist on Rosemead south of Garvey, serves a zoo’s-worth of grilled animals with all the trimmings, including deer, boar, goat, ostrich and kangaroo. Do you want to chase your grilled menagerie with an order of snake salad? Of course you do, Kathy, of course you do. 3119 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead, (626) 573-8623.
—Jonathan GoldGot a burning culinary question? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.