(Bo Laksa King’s) Bubbles and Bits
If you’re looking for an inspiring story to start the new year, look no further than Bo Han, proprietor of Bo Laksa King‘ s. Recently, The Province’s Elaine Wong did a story about the ongoing struggles in Bo’s homeland, Myanmar. About midway, she tell’s his riveting story. Here’s an excerpt:
“Bo was a Grade 12 student in Mawlamyine during the summer of 1988 when protests swept through the country. Thousands of citizens joined the uprising, only to be viciously quashed in a bloody military attack. It is believed thousands were killed in that crackdown.
Like so many other young Burmese, Bo left his family and fled to the jungles on the Thai border where he camped out for four years with student freedom fighters. Finally weakened by constant bouts of malaria, poor diet and living conditions, Bo illegally crossed into Thailand. He squatted in a UN refugee camp for another two years before Canada welcomed him. He has not seen his family in more than twenty years.“
Go ahead and read the entire article. It’s a rare glimpse into a beautiful, forgotten corner of the world.
Luckily, for us, Bo learned how to put out some damn good food. I first experienced his amazing Laksa and Roti Canai a year ago. Since then, he and his wife, Tiffany, have moved from a grocery store on Joyce to a brand new shop on Hastings.
This new venue consists of Bo’s kitchen, a bubble tea bar and a compact dining area for sixteen or so. He’s brought the best of his old menu and loaded on a wide variety of ‘Pan-Asian’ cuisine.
I’ve got a rather big problem here. A solo gut and a menu packed with favourite dishes. Beef Rendang, Mee Goreng, Pad Thai, Butter Chicken to name but four. Every one of the five salads look tantalizing. What to do…
The Satay Chicken is a solid appy choice. I figured I’d be served the usual thin trio of skewers. Turns out these are the “big-chunk-of-meat-on-the-end-of-a-stick version”. Deeply marinated and spicy…three hefty pieces, served still juicy and packed with great grill flavour. The peanut sauce, though perfectly good, was almost unnecessary.
The skewers are served over a healthy portion of coconut-infused sticky rice. This is a good-sized app for two…pretty near a meal for one. Great value at four bucks.
As with every dish Bo serves, they’re on the generous side. The Drunken Beef was no exception. Big, tender beef slices, chunky mushrooms and sliced jalapeños smothered in pungent basil, garlic, ginger, lemongrass swimming in sweet soy. A cool, pickled salad alongside was the perfect contrast.
A week or so later I trekked back to check out Bo’s Pad Thai only to be greeted with a sign saying that the kitchen was closed for a catering event. Grrrr. Thankfully, Bảo Châu was just up the road. Always good to have a back-up!
This is a very traditional Pad Thai…no shortcuts here. The tamarind-based sauce was one of the better ones I’ve come across. The only problem was that there wasn’t quite enough leaving the dish a touch dry. A minor complaint considering this was loaded with all the requisite ingredients (including banana flower and preserved turnip).
Because some of the ingredients were either atop or alongside the noodles, mixing things together gets kind of messy. I prefer my Pad Thai combined beforehand so all the elements get warmed through and infused with the sauce. Regardless of my minor quibbles, Bo’s version is a standout amongst a slew of “almost-but-not-quite-right” Pad Thais.
You’ve gotta hand it to the guy. Seeing where he came from and what he fought for to creating and building this successful endeavor is pretty amazing.