Have you ever had a craving that just doesn’t go away until you’ve had it? I don’t mean an easy craving, like for a cookie or a piece of chocolate. I mean a meal-craving. Your brain and stomach wanting a particular meal so badly it’s all you can think about until you actually get to sit down and consume it. My friend gets that way with Peking duck sometimes. If you mention Korean bbq to me, it’s pretty much a given that we have to go eat that for dinner that very night. But lately, I’ve had a long term craving that has kind of just lingered. It doesn’t make me really crave it, it just reminds me that I want to try it when the opportunity arises.
Neon signs are kind of falling out of favor in the world of advertising. Maybe they’re too expensive to buy; maybe they’re too expensive to repair when they break. But, the neon sign that’s been catching my eye has been the one for “7 Course Beef”. When I first saw that, I didn’t even know what 7 course been was, but it certainly sounded interesting. And tasty. So, I looked it up and the internet pretty much confirmed that it’s both interesting and tasty.
Because this was my birthday week, I decided to use my power to request that we finally sit down and experience this 7 course beef. We invited friends along because food experiences are more fun when shared and there is also safety in numbers. If we looked like complete morons who didn’t know what we were doing, surely they wouldn’t yell at us if we were in a group! Even if it was a group of four. We went to Pho Convoy (or Convoy Noodle House, depending on which sign you read) because a) I knew where it was and b) it seemed like a safe starting point.
In my vast research of 7 course beef, I noted that a lot of people commented how much food you get and how it’s enough for almost 2 people. So, we decided to get two orders of 7 course beef and two appetizers for the four of us. This seemed safe. I now know that we could have totally skipped the appetizers and still been way too full.
The first course, they brought out a little propane stove and pot of water, onions simmering away. They also brought a plate of beef, a huge platter of lettuce, bean sprouts, mint, basil, and pickled onions/carrots/radish. Plus, a bowl of hot water and a plate of rice paper wrappers. Multiplied by two because we had two orders. We had to ask for a demonstration because we had no idea where to start. First, you dip the rice paper wrapper in the hot (hot!) water to soften it; this goes on your plate. Then, you take the slices of beef, swish them in the onion water until cooked (like shabu shabu), and place it on the wrapper. Add on basil, mint, bean sprouts, lettuce, and pickles, then roll it all up. Proceed until the first plate of meat is gone.
The next course removed the bowl of onion water and replaced it with a small pan, more plates of meat, and huge chunks of butter. Seriously, I think there was ¼ cup butter on each plate of meat. I started with half of a piece of butter to try and save us all from having a coronary, but I think I got scolded later by our server so the rest of the butter went into the pan. The second chunk remained hidden from view. Basically, it’s the same as the first course, but now you’re searing the thin beef in the pan (with onions) instead of swishing it. Much tastier.
The next course was beef congee, which was very good, but also filling. The last courses involved a beef meatloaf roll, beef meatloaf roll wrapped in pork fat, and beef meatloaf roll wrapped in grape leaves. Then there was a meatball in broth that you break up, place on a fried shrimp chip, and eat in one bite. We spent the remaining capacity of our stomachs either wrapping the meatloaf in lettuce, wrapping it in more rice paper, or just eating it plain. It was all delicious.
We left completely stuffed. We left a lot of the congee and possibly a meatloaf or two. In retrospect, we probably could have gotten away with just one order of 7 course beef and another dish to split.
The moral of this story is: 7 course beef is indeed delicious and an experience. You should go and try it at least once in your life. Just go hungry and don’t both with appetizers.