Tag Archives: vietnamese

Promising New Pan-Vietnamese Food at B&D Authentic Viet Cuisine

B&D Authentic Viet Cuisine (website, Instagram) just opened in mid-April of this year and I’ve easily noticed them cuz they’ve been hammering social media, using every tool available to get the word out. From sponsored posts, to collaborating with influencers to do giveaways, to hiring a fantastic photographer (the photos of which they’ve been maximizing use of with great results), B&D have been pushing hard. I’m usually skeptical of such tactics — how many copycat Reels and noodle pulls can a person stand to watch?!? And where are the frickin’ real-world reviews? But in this case their menu seemed to be refreshingly small and focused, plus I’m game for checking out a new, clean, and comfortable room with properly functioning washrooms.

This space on Kingsway near Highgate Village has been a bit of a restaurant black hole/revolving door, having been host to 4-5 restaurants in the last 6 years (thanks Kevin for that bit of info). Most recently this space was Queen’s Cafe by Eighteen Chefs (who lasted two years but only had 187 followers in IG). I’m hoping B&D stick around for a long while cuz I think they’re doing something good and a bit different from everybody else in town.

We went for dinner around 5pm on a Sunday and they weren’t busy. By around 6pm the place started to get full and was pretty busy but not quite full by 7pm.

Menu porn:

Appetizers.

The menu situation at B&D is a bit messy, with separate lunch and dinner menus, each of which are spread over two laminated sheets. The lunch menu is also available for dinner, so you could end up juggling four menus at once . They’re also going to be adding new dishes, so if they don’t redesign and reprint, you might be juggling five sheets at once.

Bottom part of appetizers.

What I actually appreciate about the menu here is that there aren’t 10+ variations of pho or vermicelli bowls or rice dishes. At the time of writing, there’s only one pho, two vermicelli bowls, two rice dishes, in addition to bun bo hue and bo kho.

Share dishes.

This was the part of the menu that interested us — dishes that you don’t see that often. We got the Coconut Rice Cakes (Bánh Khọt) and Da Lat Beef Hot Pot from this section.

Wicca’s favourite section of the menu — often boring as hell in most Vietnamese restaurants — but these both sounded great and right up Wicca’s alley. She’s so bored with Chè Ba Màu (Three Colour Dessert), so seeing actual housemade cakes made her excited.

The runaway success of vegan/vegetarian places like Chau Veggie and the always-busy Do Chay has proven that you need to accomodate this market.

Mains section of the Lunch menu.

Bun Bo Hue fans will be happy to see this. The FOH manager/owner Dat (the “D” in “B&D”) said that their BBH has been very popular — they’ve had to prepare double the amount of broth for it since they introduced it on to the menu. We ordered a bowl.

The two rice dishes on the menu are the classic/standard ones.

…and the two vermicelli bowls.

So after all that, I still got the impression that they weren’t trying to do too much by offering endless variations. That said, they’re introducing a few more dishes to the menu soon, possibly a braised duck noodle soup and a banh hoi platter (fine rice vermicelli bundles). If they can maintain the quality and kitchen efficiency, I’d be ok with that!

Interior.

Bagock!!

Love the amount of natural light this space lets in cuz it makes for effortless photos .

Grilled Betel Beef Skewers ($6 for 2). They also offer pork or prawns, and you can mix-n-match.

Tastes ok but a bit dry for me.

Menu says this comes with pickles and fish sauce but it only came as-is. These are on the skinny side so of course ended up a bit too dry for my taste. Would’ve been less of an issue if they brought out the fish sauce but we were finished the dish before we realized, haha. Regardless, the flavour was alright. Wicca mentioned the Viet thing about frying the hell out of anything, especially fish. If a whole fish hasn’t been desiccated in frying oil, it hasn’t been cooked the Viet way . I still try to push back on that idea — I mean, we already took the fish out of the water…no need to turn it into jerky!

Comes with a side of pickled carrots and mustard greens (mostly hidden in this pic).

Crunchy Wings ($11), B&D Special Chili Fish Sauce flavour. They also offer Salt & Pepper but we’re glad we got this one. I was expecting the thicker, crunchy style of wings with a thin sticky sweet glaze (e.g. DD Mau), but this lighter and drier style was excellent.

Great blistered and crisp frying job. Interior a touch dry but overall flavour makes up for it. Pickled carrots and mustard greens a good and interesting side. I like how these weren’t so sticky and messy that you end up tearing your napkin to shreds trying to clean your sticky fingers.

Their limited Bun Bo Hue ($15), ordered with all onions on the side:

Onions on the side, please. Cảm ơn!

If you’re onion-averse like Wicca is, you can imagine what a buzzkill it would be to pick out every scrap of onion before you’re comfortable enough to start eating .

The standard accompaniments.

Their housemade cha hue (Hue-style ham) is appropriately punchy with all the peppercorns in it. Great flavour and has that housemade texture and freshness to it.

Sliced beef shank and sliced pork hock (not chunks). BBH fans love this thicker style of noodle — a different experience from pho!

This BBH was a lighter take on BBH, less rich and less spicy than say Cafe Xu Hue, but the lemongrass notes were nicely prominent. Lighter and still tasty but if you prefer a richer bowl you might be disappointed. If you’re a BBH fan, I’d say try it cuz the fresh, peppery Hue-style ham is something you might not have tried before.

Coconut Rice Cakes aka Bánh Khọt ($15). Comes with lettuce, basil, and Vietnamese perilla (lá tía tô) to wrap the bánh khọt in.

As pancakes are to waffles, banh xeo is to banh kot…

IMHO this dish flies under the radar and isn’t as well-known or popular as Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese crepes) but the batter is similar. If you like the crispy/crunchy qualities of bánh xèo, then you’ll probably like these too.

Banh khot are like if you started making takoyaki but stopped halfway and forgot about it until it got crunchy/crispy. Sort of. The pan used to make these looks like a jumbo takoyaki pan.

There’s some colour on the bottom but these were actually crunchier than the colour suggests. A satisfying crunch but not too hard.

The dollop of coconut cream really comes through when you eat it.

The fish sauce is light ‘n easy — suited to this rendition of the dish, imho. Really fun to eat whether you wrap it or not. We’d order this again.

You can also find this dish at La Maison Da Nang and Anh and Chi, plus a vegan one at Do Chay. I haven’t tried any of them, but now it seems like it would be fun to do a comparison of them all because they all look different. And you know ya boy Sup Dawk loves banh khot :

 

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Da Lat Beef Hot Pot ($27) was a different experience for us cuz the beef flank actually comes in pre-cooked cubes already sitting in the broth. All you have to do is put in your veggies etc:

Comes with wrinkly tofu skin, tofu cubes, taro cubes, “house special fermented tofu sauce”, instant noodles, and veggies (in this case it was some sort of choy plus mustard greens underneath, hidden).

That yellowy fermented tofu sauce is very similar to Chinese fermented tofu cubes (fuyu in Cantonese) and I love the savoury funky cheesiness of it! This is the first time I’ve ever had it with hot pot. I usually eat it with Chinese congee and maybe stir fried in kangkong (water spinach).

Methanol gel-type fuel. Staff will come refill it or your broth, as-needed. They were quite attentive to it.

The broth has a light flavour that’s ready to drink right away but gets even better as things cook in it and it gets reduced. Lemongrass and Chinese red dates in the broth.

Piece of beef dipped in the fermented tofu sauce.

The menu says “flank” but the chunks almost taste like brisket (or at least brisket-adjacent). Dipping beef into fermented tofu sauce is a wonderful new experience for me and it might not be for everyone. Luckily the sauce isn’t too strong — less strong than how most Vietnamese restaurants serve mam ruoc (fermented shrimp paste) anyways… It’s an almost cheese-like funky umami flavour. Sound good?

Banana Cake aka Bánh Chuối Nướng ($7). Very well done Vietnamese dessert, just barely sweet and plenty moist. Wicca liked it but loved this more:

Cassava Cake aka Bánh Khoai Mì ($7). Also just barely sweet, and full of fresh grated coconut.

Soft, moist, and chewy. Nicely caramelized edge too. Both of these desserts exemplified the ultimate Asian criteria for desserts:

Our first visit here was overwhelmingly positive. If they can maintain the quality of food and service, it’ll become an established winner.

A Love Letter to Northern Vietnamese Food at Hanoi Old Quarter on Victoria Drive

Mr. Red Cafe has expanded again, with a new sister restaurant on Victoria Drive called “Hanoi Old Quarter”. It’s yet another chapter in owners Rose and Hong’s mission to share authentic Northern Vietnamese food with the people of Vancouver. It’s a 34-seat establishment with a small menu, about half of which are new dishes that are exclusive to this location. It’s worth checking out if you like what Mr. Red Cafe are doing with the lighter, cleaner flavours of Northern Vietnamese cuisine.

Note: I love how this group of restaurants is able to build flavours without resorting to MSG. While it’s true that there’s nothing wrong with MSG (and there are places that use it judiciously), I find that it’s often used as a crutch, propping up weak-ass broths that have no backbone to begin with. If you’re building flavours using actual (often expensive) ingredients, of course you’ll need to charge more. I think it’s worth it.

Note #2: Please don’t come here and ask the restaurant to not charge tax if you’re paying cash, like this asshat.

Continue reading A Love Letter to Northern Vietnamese Food at Hanoi Old Quarter on Victoria Drive

Lunch Quickie: Com Vietnamese in Richmond

It’s hard not to talk about CơM Vietnamese Restaurant without comparing it to the other Vietnamese elephant in the room, Anh + Chi. But after three years after the opening of Anh + Chi, the restaurant landscape has changed. Food costs and rent have only gone up. Paying more for a meal out has become the new normal. But “ethnic” food is still battling the perception that it should always be cheap (see Eddie Huang’s “full fucking price”). Vancouver has gotten used to its cheap but often mediocre hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurants but places like House Special, Anh + Chi, Chau Veggie, CơM, DD Mau Chinatown, Dundas Eat + Drink, and others are slowly trying to carve out a space for “fancier” Vietnamese with cocktails and designer interiors. Whether they are actually offering something new that’s worth the higher price tag or simply presenting the same food in a cleaner, more Instagrammable environment is up for debate.

In a nutshell: good (but not perfect) Vietnamese food in a comfortable space but awkward location. More positives and negatives. Large menu deserves another visit.

Continue reading Lunch Quickie: Com Vietnamese in Richmond

First Look: Good Pizza & Beer, Aw-pho Pho at Sing Sing Beer Bar on Main St.

As Wicca says, the beef pho we had here was “aw-pho” (as in “awful”, for the dense people). I try to stay away from superlatives, but that bowl of beef pho we had at Sing Sing Beer Bar was the single worst dish I’ve had in the last year. The chef here is vegan.

Disclaimers about this review:

  • Sing Sing were open less than a week a week and a half when we visited, so the food and menu will probably change. Hopefully the pho will improve.
  • I post this because people like you and me deserve to know how the food is tasting now, if we’re considering risking our hard-earned money on a place with a gloriously wacky concept.
  • Consider this a rough guide to what works and what doesn’t right now.
  • NOTE: the room got dark really fast, so my photos of the food are horrible. The food actually looks way better in-person.
  • There’s some connection to Donnelly Group that I haven’t been able to suss out yet. Sing Sing is a venture by the people behind Back and Forth Bar (the ping pong bar) in Gastown. Could it be Donnelly Group lending support to places that are actually cool? Instead of overwrought and soulless?
  • NOTE 2: I wrote this while high, so I’ve gone back afterwards and added a few notes, as noted. 🙂

If you don’t want to read or scroll, here it is in a nutshell:

Good beer list, very fair beer prices, great pizza, the pho is a crime against Vietnamese culture, and the room is VERY LOUD.

Continue reading First Look: Good Pizza & Beer, Aw-pho Pho at Sing Sing Beer Bar on Main St.

A Very Soft Soft Opening: Bean Bánh Mì

Seems like banh mi is having a bit of a resurgence! In addition to Banh Mi Yen Linh (Kingsway & St. Catherines), the new second location of Ba Le (Broadway & Fraser), and the new Chinatown location of DD Mau, a new “modern” banh mi place has taken over the old Tung Hing space on Kingsway & Inverness called “Bean Bánh Mì“. Why “bean”? It’s a family operation and “bean” (đậu) is the son’s nickname which in Vietnamese also means good fortune or prosperity or something like that ;). So they’ve ran with the whole “bean” theme in their marketing. Wicca and I checked them out during their first week of operation.

NOTE: they’re still in their soft opening phase, so things probably will change and hopefully improve!

In a nutshell: the bread needs a lot of work. Some components need to be tweaked. But a promising start with a lot of heart.

Continue reading A Very Soft Soft Opening: Bean Bánh Mì

Lunch Quickie: Bun Cha Ca (Fish Cake Soup Noodles) at Hoang Yen

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!

Continue reading Lunch Quickie: Bun Cha Ca (Fish Cake Soup Noodles) at Hoang Yen