The best part of my day was the leftovers I had for lunch; what was left of my dinner from Saturday night. Two weekends ago we tried to get into this restaurant we've been meaning to try for over a year now. At 7, the wait was 1.5 hours, so we went elsewhere. This past weekend it was too hot for our kayaking plans, so we went to the Fort Fisher Aquarium and then back to the restaurant. We got there early this time (a little before 6, but we still had to wait 20 minutes.) I suggest you make reservations, and actually speak to a hostess. There is a good chance your reservations will be lost if you do not insist on confirmation with the name of the person who took your request and/or you speak to an old Asian lady. This happened to us.
Indochine is about 5 minutes outside downtown Wilmington, but is often more crowded than the downtown joints. Its wonderfully, tacky-lavish decor is the result of the owner's lifetime collecting habits of Southeast Asian nick-knacks. And the outdoor eating area is a gorgeous courtyard with little pagodas over each table. Marketed as a Vietnamese and Thai place, the menu includes a huge variety of dishes. The menu really has too much. The sushi section, Chinese dishes, and few Indian creations need to be cut out completely, if you ask me.
Our service was decent, but a bit lack-luster. I don't want a server to be overbearing, but I like a little presence and warmth from the people handling my food. We ordered goi cuon (Vietnamese spring rolls) with shrimp as an appetizer. They were fresh, and tasty. The rice noodles and rice paper were the perfect texture and with just the right amount of cilantro and mint. As a personal preference, I would have liked more carrot and cucumber for more crunch. Also, the plum sauce was more of a peanut and plum sauce combo, still delicious though. I really wish I had tried it with mango instead of shrimp. The sweetness of the shrimp was lovely and I think the mango would have been even better.
I attempted to order a White Tiger, a sake-triple sec-lychee drink, but the server brought a Tiger beer instead which Louis decided to drink, so, um, make sure your order is heard correctly. Louis ordered a Naga Knock Out, a rum punch/mai tai thing. I really liked it, Louis wasn't crazy about it, so I drank it. It is a knock out, it is a strong drink wrapped in a pink girly package.
Louis ordered pork Pad Thai. I've had a lot of pad thai... none of it good. It's been dry, gummy, too salty, flavorless, and not actually pad thai. But this was fantastic. Great balance of flavors, egg evenly distributed, pork tender, the sauce stuck to the rice noodles in just the right way... I was almost jealous I didn't order it.
Except that I wasn't terribly jealous because I ordered the Pho Bac. This was one of the revelatory dishes in my life. The clear broth was so clean yet complex. The rice noodles were perfect, slightly chewy but tender with a bit of cilantro and lots of scallions mixed in. There were soft, thin slices of beef poached in the broth. And it was served with a plate of goodies: minty Thai basil, sriracha, bean sprouts. With my first bite, I started to giggle. I unceremoniously curled over my bowl; chop sticks in one hand, spoon in the other. I gobbled and slurped my way into soup nirvana. At one point the owner came over, she asked how everything was. With noodles hanging from my mouth, I just laughed a little and then sucked the noodles into my mouth the way your parents told you not to. She smiled widely at my enjoyment. That was enough for her.
7 Wayne Dr.
Wilmington, NC 28403