After all my rich Chinese dinners as of late, I was in search of a different taste, something more light, something healthier? So I gravitated towards the refreshing flavours of Vietnamese food, often prepared with with basil and lemon.
The destination we choose was one link in a chain of five. Given its location along a busy road, just before the bridge, on route to Richmond; this is one of those places you come to specifically. With residential homes surrounding the area, it isn’t really on the way to anything.
It was brightly lit with its windows attracting just as much attention as its signed name. Given the fluorescent hum of the place it felt like a fast food restaurant. It was minimalistic with simple chairs and tables over a tiled floor. A caddy of utensils at each table offered less human interaction with the staff. Chopsticks, spoons, napkins, and sauces at your disposal. They did brighten up the place with a flower at each place setting and a vase full by the counter. All in all it felt like a place for a quick meal, especially given the speed of food delivery.
The menu was a list with photos spelled out in traditional Vietnamese phonetic and English description with ingredients list. It was easy enough to order off of.
Watching a glass of their “Special rainbow jello drink” with red bean and coconut milk” pass by our table, I found myself exploring the drinks menu for the same. However resisted the pull of familiarity for something more unique on paper.
The “Egg yolk and condensed milk with soda in ice” was a practical title. I was curious how the egg yolk would fair in such a beverage; completely forgetting that various cocktails enlist the practice of blending a raw egg until foamy, then adding it to a drink. It appeared like a tall glass of milk. White and creamy, but with a refreshing and fizzy quality to it. Definitely more of a dessert drink, like a Vietnamese egg cream.
When having Vietnamese food, it is almost obligatory to order pho. We went for the one that sounded the most exotic, with the most ingredients. A dish of raw bean sprouts, fresh basil, and lime wedges proceeded it, to add as we saw fit. “Rare beef, well done beef brisket, and tripe with rice noodles in soup”. We ordered a large serving to share. There was an equal ratio of meat to noodle. With large chunks of beef and tendon and not enough tripe.
I typically eat half my portion of pho, before needing to add in any of the table side brown sauce to rejuvenate its flavour. However this was on the blander side, and several squeezes of the bottle was necessary even before I started eating. All an all I pretty average bowl, not bad, but nothing worth remembering.
Similarly were the “Deep fried spring rolls” filed with ground pork, shrimp, and assorted vegetable. Crispy rolls, best dipped into the side servings fish sauce. This was a clear and soup-like, tangy and sour, vinegar based sauce.
The presentation alone for this one set it apart, as the most impressive. Though I wished there was a version that included more items and various meats, like a sampler platter. Though this did leave me wanting to try the others. “Special steamed vermicelli, grilled skewered pork, and minced shrimp wrapped in sugar cane”. I was drawn in by the creativity of noodles. They were squares with each individual strand still visible, adhered together as a sheet. This construction made them easy to pick up and dip into the fish sauce. They also made a great base for the perfectly grilled pieces of pork. I liked the meat a little burnt on the edges, giving it a great char. The shrimp was spongy like fish balls, they didn’t gather much sweetness from the stick of sugar cane. However the sugar cane tasted like shrimp. You don’t swallow the fibrous bark of the sugar cane, but instead gnaw on it, drawing out all its sweeter juices. Or in this case savoury fishiness.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The restaurant was pretty basic. Fair prices, fast food, and a good meal. I wouldn’t drive all the way out for it, but wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it either. But be warned, unlike most fast food chain, this one only accepts cash. Don’t deny your cravings.