The other afternoon Gavin and I tried a new dish called Lau. We ordered Shrimp Lau to share for lunch. A portable hot plate powered by a small gas canister was brought to our table, turned on, and a pot of vegetable soup was set on top.
While the pot was warming up, our server brought out a platter of raw, whole shrimp fresh from a murky tank, vermicelli noodles, and fresh greens.
The greens contained okra, some sort of soft, bitter root, bamboo shoots, sprouts, and leaves. Just as the broth came to a boil, we added the shrimp to the simmering soup, and dumped most of the greens in. Once the shrimp morphed from cold, wet and gray to plump, pink and edible, we put the noodles in our smaller personal bowls and used a ladle to top it off with broth, veggies and the aforementioned crustaceans.
The soup itself differed greatly from the insipid broth all too commonly passed off here. A sweet tangy flavor, highlighted by pineapple and tomato greeted our palates. We added some hot chili peppers to turn up our body temps and dug in. It was the perfect meal for two: we each filled our bowls over and over again until at last all the soup was gone and our bellies were full.