To the point: good bun bo hue (might be the best available in Vancouver), ok everything else.
Hoang Yen on Victoria Drive (across the street from Chau VeggieExpress and Amay’s House) seems to have been there for ages but I never paid attention to it because of the “Vietnamese & Canadian Cuisine” noted on their sign and menu. It brought to mind those increasingly rare “Chinese & Canadian Food”-type diners that I would never eat at unironically. But the constant lineups at this small place made us curious. We tried their most famous dish, the “Bun Cha Ca” (housemade fish cakes in vermicelli noodle soup) and we liked it!
From the family that brought you the well-regarded Green Lemongrass and Broken Rice restaurants comes their new modern take on Vietnamese food at House Special in Yaletown. For some interesting background on the people and the restaurant, read this handy Georgia Straight article (informative writing, horrible photos).
This early review is a compilation of three visits. I still feel like I need another visit to fully understand their breadth (and try a couple of their soup noodles), but I have some travelling coming up so I feel the need to put this review out there first and revisit this place in July when I get back.
TLDR: Great beer list, some really great dishes, a few of the modern takes are less successful, restaurant still finding their legs. Worthy of your time.
Price isn’t usually that much of an issue for me unless something jumps out — and jump out it did when I took my family to the new Anh + Chi in the old Pho Hoang space on Main & 18th. I don’t mind paying more for a commensurate increase in quality, technique, freshness, and service…but I’m not sure that what I ate justified the increase in price.
TLDR: Average food with hints of greatness for a premium price.
Last time we were in Calgary during the winter was back in 2010. This Vancouver boy isn’t used to the brutal, dry cold. Although the snow texture is fluffy and makes a cool crunching sound, it’s still a bit of a pain to get around. But thankfully we were able to do lots of family stuff, hit a lot of restaurants, and drink more than enough beer.
There’s more than 240 photos in this post (almost 30MB), so just let it load 😉
We received a wonderful cookbook (Quintessential: Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine) from Helga earlier this year, but we hadn’t gotten around to actually cooking from it until now. Wicca used the Pork Ribs Braised in Fish Sauce (Sườn Ram) recipe as a base, then tweaked it to suit her palate. We didn’t really intend to post this as a full recipe at the time, so I don’t have photos of the ingredients, prep, etc, but I hope this will inspire you anyways! Just check out the Instagram posts that I did that night. It was delicious!
Wicca’s tweaked recipe is below. Enjoy!
Instagram has been great for me once again. Seems like the more you put in, the more you get out. Last week, I had posted a photo of some sad-looking nachos from Browns Social House where I voiced my displeasure:
Vietnamese options in Downtown/West End are few and far between. But Denman St. has become a little hotbed (maybe not hotbed exactly…perhaps warmbed) for Vietnamese restaurants with three that I now know of: Cafe Phin (reviewed here), Baoguette Vietnamese Bistro, and today’s pick Chè-licious.
Side note: Baoguette is mildy famous for their salad rolls that contain a full-sized spring roll inside. Check out Maggie’s or Sean’s post. I’ve never tried it myself, but maybe next time I’m on Denman?
Cafe Regalade made it’s transition into Linh Cafe last fall, turning it into a French/Vietnamese restaurant. I think we’ve had a pastry or two at Cafe Regalade, but nothing that memorable. I’ve been following Linh Cafe on Instagram, and have been enjoying the photos of their process. We finally had the chance to check them out for lunch last week and were quite pleased with their Northern Vietnamese flavours.
A new bánh mì (Vietnamese sub) place opened up on Victoria Drive and 38th Ave called Bánh Mì Saigon (Instagram). They bake their own bread! Now it’s not only Tung Hing and Ba Le that bake their own bread. Tung Hing used to be a favourite but they’ve skimped on fillings over the past decade and I was ready for a new bánh mì go-to place. BMS are even closer to my place than TH, and also conveniently on my bus route home, so fingers crossed!
NOTE: these guys have been selling out before they close at 7pm, so be aware!