Café Xứ Huế
I am forever fascinated by the vastness of variety in the world of Asian soups. From the simple, basic goodness of congee to the complex, myriad flavors of mulligatawny, there is nothing more satisfying, in my humble opinion. Among my favorites are, of course, Phở as well as Bò Kho. Another famous Vietnamese soup is Bún bò Huế. Recently I ventured to Café Xứ Huế on Kingsway to try their version.
Bún bò Huế originated in Huế, the old imperial capital in Central Vietnam. Considering the region is famous for its vegetarian cuisine, Bún bò Huế is quite an anomaly. This is a carnivore’s dream come true. Round rice vermicelli are topped with marinated beef flank, Vietnamese ham, cubes of congealed pork blood and a pig’s knuckle. A slightly spicy, lemongrass-scented beef broth then fills the bowl.
The accompaniments can sometimes make or break a meal. In this case, they heightened it considerably. The freshness is obvious. The interesting part, though, were the sliced banana blossoms. Very common is Southeast Asia yet rarely used in these parts. They gave the soup yet one more layer of texture.
Based on how long it took to arrive, I assume the Pork and Prawn Salad Roll was made to order. It sure didn’t taste like it had been in a fridge all day. The sauce was quite a bit beyond normal…a nice balance of peanut and hoisin with crunchy fried garlic and shallot.
Café Xứ Huế has a small, very specific menu. One page, twelve items…including beverages. Simplicity is good.