Café Trường Thành
I’m always amazed at the variety of cuisines we have in Vancouver. What amazes me more is the variety of regional Asian cuisine. I was lucky enough to come across Trường Thành…a northern Vietnamese restaurant specializing in Bún Riêu Cua (crab-paste noodle soup) and Bánh Cuốn (Vietnamese rice rolls). As a major Phở and Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) aficionado, I was obviously intrigued.
First, I had to try the Bánh Cuốn (Vietnamese rice rolls).
Tender rice rolls are filled with minced pork, tree ear mushrooms, garlic, pepper and fish sauce. Thick slivers of pork cake are fried along with shallots. The pork floss (Rousong) I won’t even try to figure out. It tastes and feels just like it looks.
They are served with Nước Nam for dipping and slices of pickled carrot and green papaya.
As if all those flavors and textures weren’t enough, a big plate of lettuce and mixed herbs are presented.
There’s lettuce, mint, cilantro and perilla…a big, leafy relative of the mint plant. The crunch of papaya and carrot, the savory rolls and the Nước Nam made for an excellent flavor and texture combo.
On to the main event….Bún Riêu Cua.
Crabs are pounded into a paste, shell and all, and made into small patties. The seafood broth is infused with garlic, sweet chunks of tomato, tamarind pulp, fish sauce and shrimp paste.
The water-spinach stems were a nice crunchy addition.
For me, the broth was a little light although the peppery crab livened it up considerably.
A squeeze of lime, a whack of Sriracha and a few choice herbs. This is why I love Vietnamese food. Fresh, well-balanced ingredients loaded with a myriad of flavors.