Since it moved into this stand-alone strip-mall space in 1993, Chez Thuy has been offering history lessons told in food. It's a casually shabby clearinghouse with menus as thick as a world atlas, each outlining the story of the cuisine of Vietnam, which, in the historical record, reads like a murderous, ill-fated yet oddly fortuitous collision of cultures and a thousand spices. When the French first came to Indochina, they did so with guns, funny hats and an idea of colonial law absolutely antithetical to the Southeast Asian way of life. But their coming also marked one of those strange periods where complementary vectors of food and politics cross, because the French, being French, brought their chef's knives along with their trench knives, which changed Vietnamese cooking forever. The Vietnamese took to French haute cuisine like nobody's business, fusing it with their own already highly developed culinary tradition -- and the rest is delicious history. Chez Thuy's menu reflects the mingling of the French and Vietnamese obsessions with food in the best possible way.