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Andy’s Bistro

Fresh and flavorful finds its way to Lacey

Pho and Bahn Mi, a soup and sandwich that made Jackie giddy. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: Having already found success with more traditional Thai and Vietnamese cuisine in the South Sound as the owner of Lemon Grass, Nicole Pham explores a wider variety of dishes with influences in Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and Western-influenced sandwiches. In this case, the bistro is named for her son, that on occasion you may find working the food line. Dutch and Jackie head South to Lacey this week to try out her newest venture: Andy's Bistro.

DUTCH: Upon walking in, there is a lunch counter where you can supervise all the dishes being made, tables around the edges, and plenty of window seats to watch the comings and goings around you while you eat. I opted for the lunch counter where I was drawn in by the energy of the preparation process, and was able to see first-hand the care given to each dish. The friendliness of the staff mirrored that care for the customers as well.

JACKIE: I was so ready for this one! Pho and Bahn Mi Central, I'm coming in hungry. The menu is easily read while waiting in line if there happens to be an item with options including sandwiches, pho, ramen and a couple salads for good measure. It's a great stop for those who need something that travels well for later, or comfy and spacious enough to dine in. Naturally, I opted for a one-two combo with both a Veggie Bahn Mi and Veggie Pho. The Bahn Mi had the perfect balance of tofu to toppings, pickled daikon and carrot relish gave each bite a fresh pop of flavor with jalapeño added a nice heat, and being a cilantro fan myself, I was giddy. The bread, warmed to perfection, didn't overwhelm the ingredients, the ultimate Bahn Mi flounder, in my opinion. The mayo dressing was just enough; no dry, boring bites in site.

DUTCH: I somehow knew you were going to go for a Bahn Mi, so I went a different direction and ordered the Mango Habanero Roast Beef Cheddar Melt. Utilizing the same warm hoagie bun as the Bahn Mi, this hand-held delight is loaded with plenty of roast beef, and topped with peppers and onions that are grilled to a nearly al dente texture, and topped with both cheddar and pepper jack cheese melted across the entire sandwich. The creamy cheese and roast beef are highlighted with a sweet and hot of mango habanero. As a thirst quencher, (a necessity due to the heat of the habanero) I opted for the Vietnamese iced coffee. If you are a coffee lover, this is a nice twist that uses sweetened condensed milk with a strong coffee, offering an almost dessert-like finish.

JACKIE: The veggie pho broth whispered of what I suspect was lemongrass. Delicate and aromatic with whiffs of basil, onion and cilantro. The serving size was generous, loads of rice noodles swimming about, and satisfying. The ramen also didn't disappoint. A traditional Tonkotsu broth lays the foundation with egg noodle, green onion, bamboo shoots and baby bok choy served up steaming. My kids slurped their way through the noodles without paying mind to the veggies, which is rare because more often than not unfamiliar veggies might as well contaminate a dish if they're even in the same vicinity. Flavor trumped the war of veggies (we even snuck in some bean sprouts).

DUTCH: I did not avoid the soup menu, but I did opt for the ramen instead of the pho. Flavorful Tonkotsu broth is joined with your choice of chicken, tofu, or pork (I went with the pork), bock choy, green onions, and crunchy bamboo shoots. This is a hearty dish that I wasn't able to finish, despite how much I didn't want to stop eating it. Plenty of flavor and textures make this a must with any sandwich on the menu.

ANDY'S BISTRO, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 4410 Sixth Ave. SE, Unit B, Lacey

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