A very sweet and generous friend of mine offered to babysit Future Foodie, so we took the opportunity to indulge in some culinary delights in Albany for our date night. First, we headed to TJ’s Cafe, which has the best fried ravioli in town. Hands down. I don’t even know how the rest of the food tastes. We went to TJ’s a few years ago, I got the ravioli and have never forgotten them. We plunked ourselves down at the bar, I ordered a dirty vodka martini and promptly ordered my ravioli. They came out perfectly fried, nice and golden brown. They are filled with a blend of ricotta and mozzarella, with some chopped jalapenos. They are served with a marinara sauce and a raspberry sauce, which I thought was totally weird but was absolutely delicious when I tried it. Poor J got maybe three of the ravioli and I kind of inhaled the rest of them. YUM.
We then headed over to Van’s Vietnamese to get our Pho fix. The place was pretty packed, which we were glad to see. We waited about 10 minutes for a table. Once we were seated, we both ordered the Pho Chin (Noodles with well done beef brisket) and J ordered the shrimp summer rolls. He absolutely loves them (I don’t eat shrimp). According to J, the shrimp are fresh and perfectly cooked and the flavors in the roll itself are perfectly balanced, and then combined with the awesome peanut sauce, he was in summer roll heaven.
When you order the noodles, they always bring out a plate of accoutrements to go with the dish. We had a heaping dish of bean sprouts, a few sprigs of cilantro, sliced fresh jalapenos, lime wedges, and a little dish of plum/hoisin? sauce and Sriracha.
Our steaming bowls of noodle and broth came out. We added in all of those delicious things and dug in. The Pho was delicious, with a beautiful beef flavor with hints of sweetness, and the vermicelli noodles were just delicious. The beef itself was really good, and wonderful when dipped in a combination of the plum/hoisin and Sriracha sauces. We finished the noodles fairly quickly but ended up taking the broth home so we can cook some more noodles up and enjoy another helping of deliciousness.