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At the delicious Vietnamese restaurant Ma’am Laotian House, I encounter “toung tsze mil,” the broth. A veggie version of hot pot, tung tsze mil features a colorful wall of taro balls, matching tomatoes, thin noodles, thinly sliced turnips, and shreds of shredded tofu, among other comforting vegetables. An unexpected amuse bouche, the broth itself is intoxicating: sweet, soothing, surprisingly vegetarian, and lacking in MSG.

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Hamburgers, nam prik suan, have a way of devouring an appetizer or main course before the dishes arrive. But moo goo gai pan, an ideal-looking fried appetizer, comes as a palate cleanser. If you prefer to eat out and it means ordering a meat option, order the chicken tai fresca. What’s actually here: corn cooked with green chiles and sliced chicken. But that’s the beauty of this dish. There are far more flavors here than in a standard shrimp tempura, allowing for unexpected combinations like papaya and pico de gallo.

Laotian House has a more modern feel, but the area smells like a long-gone palatte. A retro lacquered wood counter tops the open kitchen, where chefs from the restaurant prepare tableside. I love the amusingly named Hot Pot Protection Menu, with its menu and menu cards written with napkins. On day one, the menu was a few pages thick, offering only spicy ramen and pho, but on day two, it has grown to four sections: meat, seafood, veggies, and rice.

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No reservations necessary, try the pho and the catfish. The broth at the restaurant is stronger, less simmered, and thicker than the pho at the Laotian Street stand in Greenwich Village, but the catfish is a delicious stew, even more so when it’s fried.

Laotian House | 128 Broad St., Manhattan; 718-452-1495

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