Amanda Freitag’s Special Salad

Amanda is a restauranteur, philanthrophist, judge on the Food Network’s hit TV show, Chopped, and a fan of Ken Carlton’s latest book.

Steaming fragrant Vietnamese pho for lunch is a joy on any day of the week, but nothing is more satisfying than to dive into a bowl on a March late-winter’s day when snow alights on the Bay Area mountain peaks and your home furnace is kaput. I needed warming from the inside out and this Outer Richmond venue was the answer. I literally dove into the savory hot broth – flavored with allspice and star anise – swirling the thinly sliced flank steak to cook atop the rice noodles. I piled on scallions, fresh mint, Thai basil, bean sprouts, fresh jalapenos, and added a dash of extra sauces – fish sauce, Sriracha, soy, vinegar — in between slurps. The furnace did not fix itself, but I stayed warm for hours after.

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