Ah, the Vietnamese phở joint…my favourite type of restaurant. In Greater Vancouver there’s an abundance of really good ones. Many folk mainly stick to the phở. Can’t blame them one bit…there’s some great bowls to be had. Bảo Châu is a perfect example of a restaurant that caters to phở lovers but also puts out a range of other, great Vietnamese fare.
Don’t get me wrong….I love phở. I get giddy at the mention of it. It’s the one dish I crave above all others. But there’s another Vietnamese soup I have a major affinity for. Bún bò Huế.
Bún bò Huế is phở’s spicier, Central Vietnamese cousin. There are however some big differences. Phở stock is seasoned with star anise, cinnamon and clove. Bún bò Huế’s flavor is derived mainly from lemongrass and chili. Phở is served with flat rice noodles whereas Bún bò Huế should come with round rice noodles. Aside from beef flank, mandatory ingredients are chả lụa (Vietnamese Ham), huyet (congealed blood cubes) and a pig’s knuckle. Bảo Châu’s version neglects the blood cubes and pig’s knuckle but, overall, is a damn fine bowl. This time I asked for the flat noodle instead of the round. It’s a personal preference as the the thicker, round noodles tend to be quite slippery causing excessive splash. A lesson learned…tradition be damned!
Bảo Châu’s claim to fame is their Chả Giò (Vietnamese spring rolls) as evidenced by the rather large proclamation out front.
This is, perhaps, the only establishment around here that makes such a claim. Therefore, your rolls ought to be pretty damned special.
In fact, they are…most of the time. Once or twice they were mediocre. Today’s batch were exceptional. Fresh, hot, crispy and loaded with flavour. At $1.75 apiece, they’re a value to boot.
Another great dish here is Bún Thịt Nướng, Nem Nướng (Rice Vermicelli with BBQ Pork and Grilled Pork Hash).
This, my friends, is freaking delicious! The BBQ Pork is marinated and then grilled to perfection…still tender but chewy with just the right amount of char. The grilled pork “hash” is basically minced pork sausage jacked with a load of garlic…extremely flavourful. Along with a crunchy julienne of carrot and cucumber, mung bean sprouts and scallions, a load of protein and noodle, this is a large amount of food. At $7.25, it’s quite a bargain. The only thing missing were the crushed peanuts. When I asked for some, I was kinda stunned when the server said they don’t use them. What? No peanuts? That was a first.
If you’re ever on a hunt for solid, albeit, not perfectly authentic Vietnamese fare in East Van, Bảo Châu’s is a damn fine choice.