Thanks to bar manager Jon Christiansen, the Banhs' cocktails have an evocative bent. This drink is named for 13th-century Vietnamese military commander Tran Hung Dao and uses lime, fresh herbs, pineapple, and fragrant tea--all as popular in Vietnam as the hero himself.
1 tsp. loose-leaf oolong tea
1/4 1cup sugar
10 to 12 fresh mint leaves
4 or 5 fresh red shiso leaves (optional)
2 tbsp. litchi puree, such as Funkin, or 4 canned litchis,
whirled well in a blender to yield 2 tbsp.
2 to 3 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup each aged rum and pineapple juice (preferably fresh)
1. Make the oolong tea syrup: Bring 1/4 cup water to a boil in a
small saucepan and add tea. Cover and steep 5 minutes. Strain into
a cup, then pour in sugar. Stir until it dissolves. Let cool.
2. Fill two cocktail glasses with ice. For a pretty effect,
tuck a couple of mint and/or shiso leaves along the inside of
the glass. Fill a cocktail shaker one-third full of ice, then
add 6 to 8 mint leaves and, if available, 3 or 4 shiso leaves.
Pour in 2 tbsp. cooled oolong syrup, the litchi puree, lime
juice, rum, and pineapple juice. Shake vigorously.
3. Strain into the glasses and serve, topped with another mint
leaf or two.
CUCUMBER SALAD with CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS and HERBS
This salad gets its unmistakable sweet-salty crunch from caramelized shallots, an addictive staple in Vietnamese salads. It's key to slice them uniformly, or they won't cook evenly.
3 large shallots, sliced crosswise into 1/4-in.-thick rings to yield 1 cup, plus 1 tbsp. minced shallot
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 tbsp. each Champagne vinegar and rice vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
About 2 tbsp. lemon juice
About 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
About 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 1/2 English cucumbers
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp. roughly chopped Thai basil (optional)
1 tbsp. roughly chopped red or green shiso (optional)
1 tbsp. finely diced cu kieu (Vietnamese pickled leeks) or mild
cucumber pickles, such as cornichons or Claussen dill
1. Toss shallot slices to separate them into rings. Have ready a
slotted spoon and a double layer of paper towels. Heat oil to
275[degrees] in a small, deep heavy saucepan and drop in shallot
rings. Using a deep pan makes deep-frying virtually spatter-free.
"When we fry large quantities of shallots in the restaurant, we
use deep rondeau pans and fill them only 20 to 25 percent full,
so we don't have to clean up a big mess," Eric says.
2. Cook shallots, stirring often, until they turn a uniform light
brown--this will take about 8 to 12 minutes. They'll brown faster
toward the end, so be careful; Sophie suggests turning off the heat
when they look almost done. Lift shallots from oil with slotted
spoon and drain on paper towels (see photo at right). Reserve 2 tsp.
shallot oil for vinaigrette; let cool. Save the rest for stir-fries
and salad dressings.
3. Make vinaigrette: Whisk vinegars, sugar, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp.
salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper together in a bowl until salt and sugar
dissolve. Add reserved shallot oil and the minced shallots and
whisk well to blend. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and
4. Slice cucumbers into 1/4-in, slices with a knife or on a
mandoline. Toss cucumbers and tomatoes with vinaigrette. Add
mint, Thai basil, and shiso if using. You don't want to chop
the Leaves too fine, or they'll wilt in the vinaigrette,"
says Sophie. Eric notes that Vietnamese love crunchy textures.
"They'll say, Wow! That was so crunchy!' and mean it was tasty."
5. Arrange salad on a platter and top with pickled leeks and
fried shallots. .Make ahead: Fried shallots, up to 2 days,
stored airtight at room temperature.
PER SERVING 143 CAL., 33% (47 CAL.) FROM FAT; 7.7 G PROTEIN; 5.4 G FAT (0.5 G SAT.); 20 G CARBO (3.4 G FIBER); 340 MG SODIUM; 0 MG CHOI.
PER SERVING WITHOUT RICE 1S4 CAL., 64% (98 CAL.) FROM FAT; 8.8 G PROTEIN; 11 G FAT (1.36 SA1.); 4.76 CARBO (1.3 G FIBER); 693 MG SODIUM; 52 MG CHOL.
PER COCKTAIL 201 CAL., 0.3% (0.7 CAL.) FROM FAT; 0.2 G PROTEIN; 0.1 G FAT (0 G SAT.); 33 G CARBO (0.4 G FIBER); 2.2 MG SODIUM; 0 MG CHOL.
PER SERVING 95 CAL., 57% (54 CAL.) FROM FAT; 1.8 G PROTEIN; 6.3 G FAT (0.7 G. SAT.); 9.76 CARBO (1.26 FIBER); 70 MG SODIUM; 0 MG CHOL.