If you want truly stellar Asian cuisine, you've got to head to Richardson. This suburb is home to an impressive amount of cultural diversity, which, in turn, results in a lot of really incredible restaurants. Tucked into strip malls scattered around this culturally diverse suburb are restaurants are serving up the freshest and most authentic versions of Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, and Chinese cuisines you'll find in the Metroplex.
Those feeling particularly peckish and bargain-hungry should head to Saigon Block. Located near the corner of Arapaho and Jupiter, this Vietnamese restaurant serves up the standard dishes you'd expect to find — including several varieties of pho and bun, vermicelli noodles with various toppings — but it's perhaps most well-known for its stunning preparations of whole catfish, one of which seems to land at practically every table.
But diners really in the know order the restaurant's special seven-course beef dinner. This red meat-focused menu is offered every night the restaurant is open (it wouldn't hurt to call ahead to ensure availability, though), and requires a minimum of two participants. At $17 per person, this menu is a pretty insane bargain — especially considering all the recent chatter about skyrocketing beef prices. For about what you'd typically spend on a good burger, fries, and a beer, you'll get:
Goi bo, a spicy beef salad tossed with fresh herbs.
Bo nhung dam, a beef hotpot with simmering vinegar broth.
Bo cuon mo chai, a charcoal grilled ground beef sausage that is mixed with fish sauce, mint, and garlic.
Bo la lot, another ground beef sausage; this one is wrapped in lolot ("Hawaiian") leaf, then grilled over charcoal.
Bo cha dum, a beef pate that is sometimes referred to as "Vietnamese meatloaf."
Bo sa te, a Vietnamese take on beef satay.
Chao bo, beef congee (or a sort of rice porridge).
Before the dinner procession begins, an assortment of fresh vegetables including pickled carrot and daikon, mint, and romaine lettuce leaves arrive, along with a massive pile of fresh rice noodles. A container holds sheets of thin rice paper and a separate compartment of warm water, used to soften the rice paper so that you can make your own DIY veggie-and-beef spring rolls. A bowl of peanut sauce, heavily spiked with fish sauce and vinegar, is on offer for dipping your final product. Chili sauce, sriracha, and hoisin are, of course, also standing by.
If the menu seems intimidating because you don't recognize some of the ingredients, don't let it deter you from checking out this crazy-good deal. You'll definitely recognize familiar flavors from the Vietnamese dishes that you already love, and end up leaving more stuffed than you could possibly imagine for less than the cost of a subpar chain restaurant steak. We'll call that a win-win.