Tonight, we were craving Vietnamese food and recalling that B&D was once recommended to us, we now decided to stop by for dinner. During our visit the restaurant was still festival for the holidays. Other than that the space is outfitted fairly modern with plenty of seating to be able to hold private conversations comfortably.
The menu included plenty I wanted to try from Vietnamese staples that would give me an accurate look at the restaurant, to their house specials and dishes unique on to themselves. I would focus more on the latter to be able to report to you here what is worth trying and what should be missed.
We started with Vietnamese coffee, because it is a must for me whenever visiting a Vietnamese restaurant, regardless of the time of day. Here, I especially liked their branded coffee filter. An etched-on logo that matched the very one cut from wood, that we were sitting under on display. The filter had the same application as it does for all other Vietnamese coffees at all other Vietnamese places. But at B&D I found that their coffee tasted different, most likely from the use of different coffee beans. Their slow to drip coffee tasted like it had a mocha essence or finish to it and was not what I am familiar with. Sadly, I did not like it as much, as it left a bitter note at the back of my tongue, even with the condense milk mixed in. Although I still finished it in full for the caffeine and not have it go to waste.
I liked the menu’s promise by calling them “Crunchy wings” so ordered the appetizer to start. Available in two flavours, either the B&D special chilli fish sauce or a salt and pepper. I thought the former sounded more special and unique to B&D so went with that. Each portion is served with a side of their house pickles. Each wing was battered and fried for a jagged crust that delivered on the crunch. This texture is similar to my favourite type of Vietnamese spring rolls, which is ironically not the way they do it here. Each wing is already dressed, but I could have used more of the sauce on the side to dip into, as without the skin, the meat underneath could have used more salt. And the pickles made a nice palate refresher, but they were sliced so thin that I found them barely substantial to bite into.
The Coconut rice cake was listed as being for dine in only and was the last dish to come as we began packing the others to go. The menu described it as being “sizzling”, but by the time it came to our table it was cool at room temperature, presented on a bamboo dish. Each “cake” looks more like a crispy egg cup filled with prawns, green onions, and fresh herbs. It ate like a travel-ready omelet with its creamy coconut milk creamy topping adding sweetness and a silken texture to the one biter. Wonderful, but a little pricy for how little you got and how long we had to wait for it.
We ordered our usual Bun Bo hue, to be able to judge the quality of their cuisine against that which we know. Hue-style spicy broth served with pork hock, beef shank, and their house hue ham. This typically comes with thick noodles, but we requested pho vermicelli instead, as my guest’s preferred that texture for such a dish. As expected, this was a hot bowl of spicy and tangy broth, but more soup than any of the above listed ingredients. We did like the addition of numbing peppercorn in the meatballs for added flavour. Overall, this was a good representation of the dish, but not one we would gravitate toward amidst all others.
I wanted the Braised duck noodles because the menu stated that there are only limited quantities available each night. Made with 6 hours braised duck leg, fresh coconut broth, shiitake mushroom, sher-li-hon, red date, goji berry, and egg noodles. This didn’t sound like any Vietnamese dish I have ever had. It looked more like a Chinese noodle dish with the use of mushrooms, mustard greens, dates, and goji berries. And it tasted like Chinese-style herbal soup, which I am familiar with. It had a unique medicinal meets woodsy flavour that really didn’t pair well with anything else. It was just as warming as the other soups, but not has refreshing or tangy with citrus notes. This was best eaten piping hot as the chewy egg noodles ended up congealing together to form a ball that I needed to take bites out of like a sandwich. Thankfully the shiitake mushroom wasn’t, and each time you bit down on a cap it released all the tasty broth they had soaked up like sponges.
Available during our beginning of the year visit to B&D Vietnamese, and maybe not anymore at the time of this posting, is the seasonal Special crab soup. If you end up visiting, be sure to order this one from off of their limited time only menu card, placed on each table. It gets a “highly recommend!” from me. Listed as only being available during the winter months with limited quantities available daily. This is made with 7 hours simmered pork bones broth, crab meat, their house made tapioca, rice flour noodles, sliced pork hock, and a whole deep-fried soft-shell crab. The serving is garnished with cilantro, green onion, and friend garlic. You also get a beansprouts on the side, if you want the additional crisp and freshness, but the serving is great as is.
It is best to tackle this one quick as the buttery, deep-fried, soft-shell crab hovers above the soup with a few of its legs dangling in. Enjoy a bit of it crispy and crunchy as intended, seasoned with plenty of savoury and salty flavour before following it with a spoonful of soup and a mouthful of noodles. I ended up removing the crab from bowl and setting it aside to retain its intended texture. The thickness of the soup runs parallel with the slurp-worthy, silky noodles. This was so comforting in the cold weather and is a new flavour for me, that I will crave again in the future.
As a whole the food was great, plenty of special touches and unique interpretations to make popular Vietnamese dishes their own. Just be prepared to pay more for it.
B&D Authentic Viet Cuisine
7090 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5E 1E7, Canada