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The marinated beef sticks (think satay on steroids) with green mango salad and the banh chiao—rice flour and egg crepe stuffed with minced chicken and bean sprouts, with sides of peanut and fish sauce—are more approachable than dishes such as ground fish prahok, fermented fish paste served as a pungent dip with raw vegetables, or deep-fried tilapia amok in red curry.
The soups with pleasantly sour tamarind or preserved lemons are a wonderful initiation into the cuisine, which shares some similarities with Vietnamese and Thai cooking but is a little more unctuous and relies less on heat from chiles.