Tucked in a corner at the back of Hillside Sedona sits Tea Light Café, which opened its doors in November. The small eatery boasts a bright and casual indoor dining area, a patio with seats next to a trickling water feature and some of the freshest Vietnamese cuisine we’ve found in Arizona. When you are looking for a healthy, quick meal, this is the place you want to go.
The menu at Tea Light features soups, salads, steamed rice plates, a noodle concoction called “bun” and organic teas. First things first: Order the egg roll appetizer. Stuffed with pork, mushrooms, carrots, bean threads, herbs and onions, the rolls are lightly fried and served with fish sauce for dipping. (As with everything on the menu, the egg rolls can be ordered vegetarian.) The rolls were crisp and filled with flavor. Being somewhat new to Vietnamese cuisine, we decided to share a soup and a bun. The beef pho came highly recommended, and we quickly learned why. The aromatic broth in this traditional Vietnamese soup takes hours to prepare. It’s chock full of rice noodles, green onions, cilantro and thinly sliced beef (shrimp, chicken and tofu are also available). The steaming soup arrived in a huge bowl and was ideal for a cold winter day. The soup is served with a side of bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime and jalapenos, so you can customize it to your tastes. The bun is a mound of cool vermicelli noodles served with lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, cilantro and, in our case, a flavorful grilled chicken. The hearty dish also arrived with fish sauce or you can top it with Sriracha, hoisin sauce and chili paste, which are all located at each table.
As the name implies, the café specializes in tea, especially organic Japanese matcha green tea. Matcha tea is unfermented and stone ground, which makes it more powerful – and beneficial – than regular green tea. You can order it iced or hot and on its own or as part of a latte. And how’s this for a flashback? Tea Light serves bubble tea, or boba, a sweet, fruity drink that includes chewy balls of tapioca or “boba” that was all the rage in the ’90s. Adventurous eating in Sedona – we love it! – Text by Erika Ayn Finch.
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