Craving Asian food, I sought out my guest for the best. He has never steered me wrong, and today was no different. He took me to one of his favourite go-to’s for Vietnamese cuisine. This was a nice family run establishment. Good food, a warm setting, and friendly faces serving you with a smile. Definitely one of those places sustained by the surrounding neighbourhood. With earlier closing hours and a one day close per week, make sure they are open and serving before you make the trip down.
The decor was simple and clean. Things appeared newer. Pink to beige painted walls, ceiling fans, marble table tops, black chairs, and a corner booth upholstered in red pleather. Their restaurant’s name was painted in red on the back wall, just after the cash register. And past this, gave you a look into their modest kitchen. Overall there isn’t much to look at in terms of decorations. An oil canvas painting here, a set of abstract pictures there, a couple of mirrors lining the hall, and a mounted television directed solely at the lone booth.
I appreciated their easy to navigate menu. It led with larger coloured photos. 2″x 3″ of their dry noodle specials, spicy beef noodle soups, other noodle soups, and appetizers. For those not dining with someone familiar with their cuisine, this would help to get things more adventurous. The pictures certainly enticed me into ordering two entrees. Our food came out fast and the heat it created kept the indoors warm, with a film of condensation on the windows as proof.
When you think Vietnamese, you think pho. And when you think pho you think, a hot bowl of soupy noodles. However here, their specialty is dry noodles. My guest claims that he often has pho at home, because he is Vietnamese. So he makes a worth while trip out here for their dry noodles. He claims no where else makes it quite like them. and that it is that good. Mid way through my meal I whole heartedly concurred. For one thing the noodles used are a wide yellow rice noodle. It’s look and colour alone is distinct. Then when you add in its original taste, you have a winner. If it didn’t come recommended I would have missed this opportunity to try something new and delicious. Both of the dry noodle varieties we ordered are similar in taste, just different in protein. The peanuts added an enjoyable textural crunch. And with all the meat and seasonings, this dish had several levels. Each bite was a little different than the last. The black sesame rice cake was an interesting element. Definitely dressing the plate up with its black and white nature. Though I thought it didn’t really compliment the noodles. It had a nice buttery quality, enjoyable when eaten alone. And if you really miss the soup element in your bowl of dry noodles, you can add a small soup for $1.00.
“Mi Quang”. Wide yellow rice noodles with sliced pork and shrimp cooked in a pork and shrimp puréed broth. Served with a side of fresh mixed green herbs, banana blossoms, and peanuts.
“Cau Lau”. Wide yellow rice noodles and thinly sliced pork meat cooked in a sautéed pork and garlic sauce. Served with a side of fresh mixed green herbs, banana blossoms, and peanuts.
I anticipated eating regular pho today so had to order a bowl. As per most places, I was given the option of having it small or large. This is a small “Pho Tai Bo Vien”, with sliced rare beef and beef balls in noodle soup. It wasn’t anything unique, but it was so tasty that I didn’t need the tube of brown or chilli sauce or chilli oil present at each table.
For an appetizer we had the “Banh Bot Luc”. Another dish I would not have considered trying had it not been thanks to my guest’s insisting. Usually when it comes to Vietnamese food, I get what I like and I stick with what I know; as it never grows tired. These bundles were steam pork and shrimp tapioca dumplings wrapped in banana leaves. Once cooked, they are served as is with a sautéed onion and fish vinaigrette sauce on the side. I like tapioca and enjoyed the chewy texture of each dumpling. And for once I appreciated the less meat filling to dumpling ratio. It was just the right amount of stuffing to allow the tapioca coating to shine. To perfectly finish each bite off, I suggest the double dipping of it into the fish sauce. The sauce’s light and salty, yet sweet taste accented the meaty and heavy nature of the dumplings.
Our server was a young lady working the front herself. She was polite in handing us and the 4 other tables that came after us well. She was on top of refilling our complimentary cups of tea and even checked in to see how things were going. She also made no note when I ordered two dinners and then had to ask for two containers to pack them up in.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
I am deeming this as my new favourite Vietnamese place. And like my guest, I will not be ordering the regular Pho soup noodles when I visit, that I can get equivalently elsewhere. I will come for their dry noodles because it is that unique and that delicious. As well as their assortment of appetizers. I hear their salad rolls are just as good as their tapioca dumplings. The salad rolls not only come with the usual prawn, but include an addition of pork rolled up as well. Just don’t forget to visit the ATM before you sit down, they only accept cash. And be warned that parking is limited with all the other restaurants around, a few laps around the block may be necessary. Don’t deny your cravings.