STAFF PICK: Because many local restaurants offer both Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, many have come to think of the two cuisines as interchangeable. Nothing could be further from the truth; and nowhere is this misconception more expertly set straight than at the Cock Asian. Start with a summer or spring roll. These feathery rolls are the antithesis of a deep-fried egg roll. The rice paper-wrapped packets can be filled strictly with veggies (shredded lettuce, carrot slivers, bean sprouts and glass noodles) or with the decadent addition of chopped shrimp and marinated pork. Instead of a cloying sweet-and-sour sauce, you'll get a small bowl of peanut-dusted nuoc nam, a Vietnamese fish sauce that's way more tasty than its English translation suggests. Pungent and faintly salty, this sauce will deftly complement every dish on your table. Entrees are myriad, but we're partial to the Vietnamese hot pot, which offers skewers of beef or chicken cooked in a vinegar broth and then wrapped in a rice-paper pancake with a variety of ingredients including mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, carrot strips, shredded lettuce and cucumber. Don't forget to try the beef noodle pho, a satisfying soup that could be the national dish of Vietnam. The Cock Asian menu is an excellent cross-cultural primer.
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