Cơm Ragu Bò Rice and Beef Ragout – 337 of 365

Ragu Bò

As my time in Vietnam quickly winds down I am realizing how little I’ve actually completed on my to do list the past several years.  Isn’t it always like that living somewhere?  We just say one day we’ll just get around to being a tourist in our own town and then something pesky called life gets in the way.  Somehow one day becomes no day if we aren’t careful.

I finally broke down and scratched a line of the list with a meal at Pho 2000 down in tourist central right across from the Ben Thanh Market.  Why you ask?   Why not just eat at Pho 2000 in the less touristy Le Thanh Ton Street neighborhood?  Maybe you are asking why even eat at a chain joint at all.   The answer is quite simple actually.   The huge sign out front tells us “Pho For the President.”  Yes, Bill Clinton ate here November 19, 2000, and they’ve been milking his visit ever since.

Cơm Ragu Bò

If it’s good enough for Bill Clinton, I figured this would be good enough for me and a friend.  Crossing under that sign has been on my list for some inexplicable reason unknown to even me, and I finally made it happen.  I couldn’t help but reminisce about Monica Lewinsky and all the other goings on back then as I walked past framed newspaper clippings of Bill enjoying lunch.  Ah yes, simpler times indeed.

The waitress was surprised two western guys managed to order lunch in some sort of crude Vietnamese patois and of course she giggled nervously.  We must have thoroughly rocked her little world with what little Vietnamese we managed to muster up to score some bottled water and cơm ragu bò.  What arrived was a thick beef stew laced with large chunks of potato, carrots, onions and pot roast.  This concoction was actually much like bo kho but much thicker.  Now that I think about it, the sauce was a lot like some Ragu brand spaghetti sauce back home in taste and texture, but I presume ragu in this case is more a take on the French ragout.

I really did enjoy the meat in this one a lot as it reminded me so much of a roast back home.  Having Bill watching over us made me temporarily forget I was in Vietnam.  And I do stress temporarily.  Some screaming children gone wild running rogue around the joint snapped me back to Saigon’s noisy reality.

I fully expected a restaurant full of westerners given the location and English on the walls, but we were the only two “tourists” anywhere near these tables.   I liked that actually.   Just the two of us and Bill.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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