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Taste VIET YUM Like a culinary Captain Planet that harnesses energy from the elements, Vietnamese cuisine uses the power of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and heat for the purposes of good. Balancing flavors becomes an even greater challenge when certain ingredients are also attributed cold (yin) and hot (yang) properties. T E X T BY R O NY M O 82 F rench Colonists brought Bánh Mì, or short baguettes, to Vietnam: what they didn’t bring was any condiments. So the locals put their own spin on the sandwicheries and replaced pork meatballs for pâté, pickled daikon radish/carrot slaw instead of cornichon, cilantro for mesclun greens and fish sauce in lieu of butter. The concept of globalization is alive and well at Eating House, where they created Bánh Mì Croquetas to satisfy local tastes while staying relevant in the international scene; EatingHouseMiami.com. Pho, or noodle soup, much like pizza, is deeply personal because there are so many regional variations. One thing stays the same, any legit pho house will look a little like a kindergarten, full of teary-eyed and runny-nosed adults. Maybe it’s the jet of hot steam rising from the bowls; maybe it’s the penetrating spice; maybe it’s nostalgia. Maybe it’s all of the above. Rare thin-sliced brisket, rice vermicelli, scallions and beef broth are the base, but depending on the chef’s hometown, there can be a tray of toppings that provides basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, mint leaves and chilies. If Dr. Dre had been born in Saigon rather than South Central, his first single might have been Nuthin’ But A Pho Thang after sampling the Bun Rei at Pho Thang. This interpretation includes shrimp and crab paste muted by tomato soup, which supports pork sausage and silky tofu. Stop in and taste for yourself at 9539 SW 160th St. Goi Du Du, or Green Papaya Salad, is a Southeast Asian slaw which starts with with dried shrimp, julienned carrots, roasted peanuts, mint leaves and shaved unripe papaya seasoned with vinegar and fish sauce. Then comes the hard part — having to choose between lightly poached shrimp, pulled chicken or shredded beef jerky. In the words of country crooner Sean Hayes: “This is powerful stuff.”; GreenPapayaSouthFlorida.Webs.com. The hidden evils lurking in restaurants like trans fats and reconstituted meats pollute your body, but this Southeast Asian fare is focused on freshness, where vegetables take the forefront and seasoning, pickling and saucing become more important than ever. Be a hero to your health because you’re worth it. There’s nothing wrong with satiating your appetite the right way. You might even ask for seconds.