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Best Vietnamese Dallas 2005 - Zoom

The posts upon which the ceiling beams rest are photo galleries. Digital pictures, shot by Zoom owner Tess Nguyen, have been blown up and pasted onto the curving surfaces: craggy cliffs in a deep blue bay and villagers harvesting salt from a lagoon in Vietnam; frolicking ducks that look suspiciously like future candidates for ped kee mow (drunken duck with basil). Loud colors--coral, aqua--crackle off the walls. The spindly spread of ductwork, tucked in the ceiling like a wasp, eschews black camouflage in favor of Tour de France jersey yellow. Zoom is a Thai-Vietnamese linkage, and the results can be extraordinary. Instead of rubbery and chewy, thord man plah (deep-fried fish cakes) is supple and moist. Tom yum kai (chicken soup with lemongrass) is bright and complexly layered with flavor. Sizzling beef is juicy, rich and bedded down with separate, firm strands of vermicelli and crisp vegetables. Firmly tender flesh seeds the squid with lemongrass and chili. Decent wines, too, like an Oregon Riesling and a New Zealand Mutua Valley Sauvignon Blanc, which works well with most of this food as long as it doesn't zoom in with a blast of chili.

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