Hi again! Thanks for revisiting my blog, which I have shamefully neglected for the past few months. I've been working a few jobs and I just couldn't find the time or energy to return to blogging. However, in the past few months, I've figured out how to balance everything and I am going to make this blog a priority again. I might not post daily like the totally dedicated Sherman, but I endeavour to blog at least once a week! Not a bad start...
Even when I wasn't blogging, I was still eating and continued to take photos of all the meals that I've enjoyed. It's these photos that I will be featuring for the first few posts. Enjoy!
I've been hearing great things about Mr. Red Cafe and I finally had a chance to try it for brunch. Every review I've read says how different they are from your everyday pho places...and boy, were they right!
We started with their Pho Cuon, a delicate rice noodle roll filled with stir-fried beef, basil and basil. The rice noodles had the cutest pattern on them, and the filling inside was even better. The beef was cooked perfectly so as not to be chewy and the herbs really added a level of freshness to the roll. Instead of dipping the rolled into the sauce, I spooned it onto the roll in my bowl so as not to miss out on any of the filling. Oh, and it's a deal for just $5!
Before the next "food" dish came, we decided to check out the various sauces they had available on the table. They have the usual "cock" sauce and the chili seed oil, both favourites of mine. The one new item for me was the vinegar with chilies and garlic...spicy, tangy and so tasty.
Next up was another new item for me, (boy, have I been limited in my Viet food culture), and it was like nothing I've very tried before in a Vietnamese restaurant. It's called with Pate Ga, and is a pretty good deal for $7. It's hard to understand at first, but when you mix all the textures and flavours together, consisting of a layer of sticky rice, topped with mung beans, layered with some chicken chunks, pate, and deep fried shallots, it sort of dawns on you...it's an open-faced Chinese "jong". The flavours and fillings are similar, just in a brand new presentation! Despite my need for heat, I actually didn't feel the desire to put any sauces on to this dish. I wouldn't recommend it as a main course for one due to the mildness of the flavours, but it's definitely fun to share as an appetizer.
We also tried their Chef's Special, Bún chả giò thịt nướng, (yes, I had to take a pic and transcribe it). But it's amazing, albeit a little pricey at $13.50. However, it is LOADED with stuff. Atop a healthy serving of vermicelli, there is a crab meat spring roll, deep fried tofu, grilled and crispy pork, not to mention the usual suspects of cucumber, sprouts, mint and cilantro. Add a bit of the nuoc nam, give it a toss and make your tummy happy. The noodles gets a salty flavour with the sauce and still have a bite to them. The tofu and spring rolls both maintain their crunch, and the pork provides just the chewiness you're craving.
Another dish that is often bastardized is the Bun Bo Hue. I have to admit, I do like my pork hock and am always disappointed when various establishments serve theirs with Vietnamese ham, pork tendon, flank and the occasional beef ball. They just make the soup base hot with chili oil and serve it with "spaghetti-style or lai-fun" noodles versus pho noodles and hope you'll be happy. But this place is pure authentic...complete with pork hock and pig's blood! I had to pass on the pig's blood, it's a bit too foreign for me, but every other ingredient of that dish was devoured very happily, even though my lips were burning, just a bit from the heat of the soup. And I only put three of the vinegar-ed chilies in my soup!
I guess after all that, it's best to cool off with a nice Iced Vietnamese Coffee...too sweet for me, but I could do a sip or two. Next time, I'll ask for half the condensed milk...
Service here is great, very patient, friendly and super helpful if you're not sure what you want. Best tip? Take a look at what other people are eating and if you think you'll like it...just point and order! I'll be returning soon to try their dumplings, as well as other goodies, like their chicken wings!