Sate: CilantroThere are several places around town to get your pho on, but this little Clifton bistro is the only source for the spicy sate version. A recipe from the mother of owner Darren Phan, the deep reddish brown broth draws its hue and robust flavor from chili paste. Choose your noodle and protein (try the tiny beef meatballs imbued with garlic and fish sauce) and drop in bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapeño slices, and lime. 235 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, (513) 281-1732, eatatcilantro.com
Bún Chay: Pho Lang ThangA subtle riot of textures and flavors, this noodle salad is proof that Vietnamese cuisine is the health food of Asia. Cold, filament-thin vermicelli is piled with crisp shredded lettuce, batons of pickled carrot and daikon, crunchy bean sprouts, cucumber, lightly coated fried tofu, fragrant herbs, and crushed peanuts. Douse with the side of nuoc mam chay—a mock version of the traditional salty-sour-sweet fish sauce—grab your chopsticks, and savor the great big vegan cuddle. 114 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 376-9177
Bánh Xèo: Song LongThough it looks like a cross between a crepe and an omelette, this “sizzling pancake” is made from rice flour mixed with egg, coconut milk, and turmeric. Pan-fried to a crisp and folded around shrimp, chicken, mushrooms, onions, and bean sprouts, it’s a popular street food. Cut a slice with your chopsticks and wrap it in one of the accompanying romaine lettuce leaves. Tuck in a sprig of fresh basil, spritz with lime, and dunk into the sweet heat of nuoc cham sauce. Don’t forget extra napkins—it’s worth every one. 1737 Section Rd., Roselawn, (513) 351-7631, songlong.net
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