Vietnamese

Where:
Soo Viet
247 Des Voeux West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2858 1855 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though)

Price:
Mr Judgmental and I got out at HKD110 each, but he’s also a remorseless eating machine who forces me to be a better person.  Other people will probably spend less than HKD100 per head.  No service charge.

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The deal:
One of my loyal FYN homies chimed in on the Fuck Yeah Noms FB post (fuck yeahhh, like that good shit already) regarding my FYN review of Pho Bar and gave up the secret regarding the existence of Soo Viet.  She expertly claimed that while the pho was good at Soo Viet, the real star was the bun bo hue, which required you to pre-order it as this gave the restaurant enough time to prepare the stock and get their asses down to the wet market for the right ingredients.  This of course sent me into a frenzy and I messaged Soo Viet to find out how I could secure bun bo hue for lunch time and was given the fuck yeah news that they now have enough supplies to have bun bo hue on offer all the time.

Mr Judgmental and I sit down in the tiny restaurant and experience some confusion as to why they’ve chosen to feature prominently a massive blow up poster of an article for when the Soo Viet owner used to be the bar manager of Xperience, a bar in Wan Chai.  The menu is extensive and things are quite ambiguously named, so we narrow our choices based on what was deemed worthy of a photo and some chats with the owner.  This is how we end up with a fuck yeah serve of the SOO Viet Egg Roll (HKD43) (cha gio), fried pork spring rolls which you wrap in lettuce leaves, Vietnamese mint and mint, before dipping it in a sharp vinegar and fish sauce based dipping sauce.  I’m always partial to a bit of deep fried action and I can’t help but think that Le Garcon Saigon probably serve something similar but charge you HKD168 for it.  These fuck yeah spring rolls do go someway in easing our disappointment that the SOO Viet Ban Xeo Crepe (HKD55) is only available at night.

Mr Judgmental insists that our incoming two bowls of noodles is insufficient for our daily carb requirements and orders a Soo Viet Banh Mi (HKD42).  It’s tasty enough with the standard mix of pate, Vietnamese pork sausage, pickled daikon and carrots and coriander.  It’s all served on a baguette which hits a good balance between a soft inside and a crusty exterior, but not so fucking crusty that you end up with some sort of eating related injury by cutting your mouth up to shit. I won’t make bold claims that it’s the best banh mi in HK but I wouldn’t tell you that you need to definitely get involved either.

We predictably get a serve of Soo Viet’s pho, which is titled as the Soo Viet Noodle Soup (HKD65) and is your mega-serve of rare beef pho with all the trimmings (beef balls, tripe and Vietnamese sausage).  It’s tasty and I enjoyed it a lot but it falls more in the category of quick and easy beef pho vs the delicious as fuck, rich stock of Pho Bar which has been created with the deep, slow cooked pho stock concept in mind.  In fuck yeah times though, there is a generous serve of beef, tripe and other ingredients which has gotta rate for some points because there’s nothing sadder when you eat two measly slices of beef and half a beef ball and realise that you’ve come to the end of your “deluxe” pho experience and it’s just mint stalks, rice noodles and stock from here on in.

But it’s when we get to the off-menu, Hue specialty, the bun bo hue (HKD50) that shit really gets real.  We tried to quiz our waitress to find out if there were other off-menu items that we needed to get involved with but she assured us that this was it.  A bun bo hue is a spicy soup made by boiling down beef bones with lemongrass, baby bird eye chillies and fermented shrimp paste (mam ruoc).  When compared to a pho it’s got more of a sour, spicy jive to it and then uses a firmer round rice noodle vs the standard flat rice noodle.  Soo Viet don’t skimp on the ingredients and top this noodle bowl with beef shank, basil, coriander, fresh onions, shallots, Vietnamese sausage and lemongrass.  There’s also thinly shredded purple banana blossoms which Soo Viet fly in from Vietnam, rather than taking the easier option of just substituting in the cheaper and more readily available red cabbage.  The stock and the beef shank is really where it’s at though and the mix of flavours from the spice from the chillies, the deep beef stock and the fermented shrimp paste creates some real fuck yeah feelings for the bargain price of only HKD50.

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So as it turns out, the best fuck yeah dish we had at Soo Viet is the one that isn’t on the menu.  This is where I am always and forever grateful for my benevolent and kind FYN homies who share the love and wanna keep me in FUCK YEAH NOMS.  And now all of us can share in Soo Viet’s bun bo hue fuck yeah secrets.  So to my best FYN homies, let it be known that always and forever, my love will run deep for you – cause my FYN homies clearly are the BEST FUCK YEAH HOMIES.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhh! Cheap and tasty as fuck Vietnoms – most importantly, I’m still dreaming about the bun bo hue.  Yeah, you Sai Ying Pun assholes are most def gonna be into this good shit.

Where:
Cóm Bánh Mì
28 Tai Wong Street East
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  Tai Wong Street is the other street that sits adjacent to The Pawn (ugh) which isn’t Ship Street.  It’s where Bao Wow used to be.  Whoever would have thought that we wouldn’t want to buy tiny overpriced hipster baos forever and ever? NEWS ALSO JUST IN – HK may possibly not need 1,278,431 burger joints either.

Telephone:
+852 2528 9131 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though).

Price:
HKD80 for the lunch set (banh mi, drink and a side).

The deal:
Cóm Bánh Mì is relatively new, only opening in December 2015 and I dragged my festively plump ass down there to see if their banh mi game was a fuck yeah or a fuck no.  Just as I’m approaching the restaurant, I notice the signage from across the road and I think “Wait a fucking minute, is that what I think it fucking says??”

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Ohhhhhhhhhh, yes it really is 2015 and Cóm Bánh Mì still seem to believe that it’s an appropriate move to claim that the Vietnamese chef behind their banh mi restaurant is called “Chef Phuc Dat Bich”, just like the Internet meme that recently went around.  I mean, do you guy get it??  It’s an alleged Vietnamese name and it sounds like FUCK DAT BITCH.

krusty-me-so-solly

Moving past the Chef Phuc Dat Bich signage, Cóm Bánh Mì is situated in a narrow space suited for take out orders or quick, casual lunches of no more than four people (probably working better for groups of two).  While I was deciding what the fuck to order for lunch, I read over Cóm Bánh Mì’s menu and in a rare event, my hackles were all up over Cóm Bánh Mì’s menu items such as the Banh Mi section being titled “HORY CLAP” and the Com Ga (rice) section labelled with “HORY SHEET“.  The level of offence I was taking at this menu threw me into some sort of existential crisis as I pondered where is the line when your whole blogging schtick is based on generally being a rude, offensive cunt and then, trapped in my tiny glass case of emotion I’m all bent out of goddamn shape by a drinks section called “SUCKY SUCKY” and a sides menu called “SIDE JOBS – Evelyting forty dorrah” (all the sic in the world ever).  OH SO THAT’S IT, shit crosses FYN’s line of acceptability into fuck no territory when it’s racist bullshit, such as menu descriptions that are trying to find humour in a non-Native English speaker’s inability to speak English perfectly or stereotypes involving South East Asian sex workers.

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Cóm Bánh Mì has a number of different modern versions of the banh mi such as shredded chicken & roast duck, Iberico pork rib satay and Iberico ham.  The majority of them are priced reasonably at HKD45 each, except for the Iberico ham one which weighs in at a hefty HKD95.  There’s no option on a straight up grilled pork banh mi which would have been my preference over any of that fancy, new age shit.  Maybe I’m just a grumpy old bastard who’s resistant to change, but I don’t know why every fucker in HK wants to fuck with the classic banh mi.  I order the Lemongrass Lime Soda (HKD25) and get talked into the lunch set for another HKD10, which allows me to get a SIDE JOB of the garlic butter wings.  The ordering set up is efficient and friendly, which is exactly what you need from a quick, casual lunch joint.  The kitchen assembles my crispy pork belly banh mi and I’m filled with hope when an attractive as fuck banh mi is placed in front of me.  A crispy French-style baguette roll is stuffed with thinly sliced cucumber, Vietnamese basil (I’ve read this shit’s allegedly flown in from Danang which seems an excessive and environmentally unfriendly way to add some authenticity), coriander, slices of chả lụa (the white, Vietnamese pork sausage), pickled carrot and daikon, sliced white onions, sriracha mayo, a decent smear of turkey liver pate and of course, the chunks of pork belly.  The first thing I ask for is more delicious as fuck sriracha and fish sauce mayo because I want that good shit to be getting it on hardcore with the liver pate in my banh mi.  Good news, Cóm Bánh Mì fully deliver on my pleas for more sriracha mayo and the mayo bottle is actually roaming free on the floor for those that need to aggressively get their sauce on.

A couple of bites in and I gotta say that I was enjoying my Crispy Pork Belly Banh Mi with a side of casual racism. The ingredients were well-balanced, the coriander and Vietnamese basil giving shit a good fresh as fuck kick.  The French baguette was appropriately crispy, but didn’t appear to have any rice flour in it, so it was a bit lighter than a traditional Vietnamese baguette.  There’s a few small things which I’d change as a matter of personal preference, like I would have preferred a stronger pickle for the daikon and carrots.  But the one thing I think Cóm Bánh Mì could really improve upon is its crispy pork belly. Cóm Bánh Mì are working with a limited set up of an oven and a few deep friers which means that they can only really toast buns and deep fry shit.  This means that in order to avoid sad fuck no flaccid pork belly times, they’ve deep fried their pre-cooked chunks of pork belly.  This unfortunately renders the pork pieces thoroughly crispy but also a little dry. I’m a resilient fuck though so I managed to patch over this fried pork related problem with a fuck load of sriracha mayo but it goes back to my point of if I’d been able to order a grilled pork banh mi, I wouldn’t have bothered with the unnecessarily fried dried out pork pieces.

My SIDE JOB of the garlic butter wings consisted of two tiny fried half-wings.  If I wanted to roll with the ‘forty dorrah, sucky sucky’ theme that Cóm Bánh Mì are going for, I could most definitely bang on here about being a size queen here but fuck that shit to all hell.  Due to Com Banh Mi’s limited kitchen set up, these deep fried wings are greasy, though delicious salty fuckers.  I’ll be real, I’d probably be upset if I’d handed over HKD40 for this side dish but at HKD10 on top of the banh mi and drink, this shit was fine and acceptably padded out the lunch set.

Sucking down the last of my fuck yeah lemongrass, mint and lime soda, I watched Cóm Bánh Mì hold down a relatively busy lunch service which seemed to be moving fairly swiftly.  I wondered how their more conservative looking mostly Asian business attired clientele were dealing with their offensive menu, but no one seemed that bothered so perhaps I’m just an uptight fuck.  Casual racism aside, Cóm Bánh Mì isn’t doing anything transcendental regarding the banh mi, but they provided an efficient and tasty lunch which didn’t send me back to the office crying for wasted time or calories.  Of course, if you’re going to be a #wandercunt asshole and compare this to all the banh mis you’ve eaten in some far flung Vietnam town in some off the beaten track hole in the wall establishment, you’re probably gonna have plenty to bitch about.  But guess what dickheads, we all live in HK and as far as HK banh mis go, you could definitely go worse.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhh, I can get behind Cóm Bánh Mì as a quick and easy lunch place.  But fuck noooo to the racist menu shit cause fuck, it’s 2015 already and surely the world’s moved on from making fun of how SE Asians could potentially mispronounce words? Yo Cóm Bánh Mì, maybe stop worrying about fucking dat bitch and get on board with fucking off racist SE Asian stereotypes.

Where:
Le Garçon Saigon (the website is total bullshit, I wish I could get the two seconds back that I spent looking at this sorry excuse for a website)
GF/12 – 18 Wing Fung Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2455 2499

Price:
We got out at a very reasonable HKD380 a person for food and drinks.

The deal:
Le Garçon Saigon has only recently opened in November 2015 and despite it being open for about five seconds, every time I’ve walked past it (even on random weeknights), it’s been totally rammed.  It’s a concept which I can totally see the masses getting behind – a French-Saigonese style bistro serving Southern Vietnamese food in the “trendy” Star Street precinct, run by the popular Black Sheep Restaurant Group (Carbone HK, Chom Chom, Burger Circus, Ho Lee Fook, Stazione Novella, Boqueria, etc. etc.) who continue their march towards HK restaurant domination.  I always feel that the Star Street precinct is deceptively trendy, as in, it feels like there should be cool, hip shops and lots of trendy restaurants but when you’re actually there you realise it’s a massive commercial yawnfest of a Pizza Express, a Classified, an Oolaa, a stack of mediocre restaurants hiding behind cool facades and a couple of interior shops which have made solid typography choices and a carefully curated inventory of only five items for sale.

Le Garçon Saigon is perfect interior bait to lure the unsuspecting trendy restaurant punter in, nailing that new-old Saigon French brasserie feeling with shiny mirrors, teal walls, geometric mosaic tiling and purposefully weathered concrete murals painted with cute as fuck French motifs.  Nothing more perfectly captures the time when the French lorded over Vietnam than a mural with French cartoon people doing colonial shit like drinking wine and a dog reading a newspaper. Fuck yeahhhh, colonialism! Another wall faithfully replicates a deliberately shabby stencilled list of Vietnamese dishes with prices listed in Vietnamese Dong, which is ironic given that I’ve got no doubt that I’m about to get stung some serious HKD for the meal we’re about to order.

Despite everything looking slick as fuck, my main fuck no issue with Le Garçon Saigon is that the softest thing in the whole place is one banquette that runs down one side and every other surface in LCG is harder than the abs of an ardent crossfitter who has eschewed carbs and non-crossfit related conversation for years #strongisthenewdouchebaggery.  This results in Le Garçon Saigon’s dining room being rendered into a cacophonous as fuck echo den with every possible noise bouncing off the bare ceilings, the concrete walls, the tiled floor, the drapeless windows, the naked marble tables or the mirrored walls. I know that tablecloths are unequivocally the devil’s work these days in most restaurants but fuck, I’m not convinced the occasional potted palm was doing their bit for acoustic baffling. I’m an old fuck so I could barely hear the waiter nor the person sitting next to me and you can completely throw all hope to the goddamn wind that I’d ever hear anything being said by the people at the other end of the table.

One thing that is more striking than Le Garçon Saigon’s interiors though is the batallion of attractive as fuck and thoroughly charming French waiters that Le Garçon Saigon have recruited.  Our table discusses whether the Black Sheep homies parked themselves at HK International Airport, staking out every Air France flight that touched down to recruit every other SO HANDSOME French homie that wasn’t destined to crush some quantitative shit at a bank to be part of their Le Garçon Saigon SO HANDSOME waiter crew. I don’t think I can emphasise this enough, the Le Garçon Saigon waiters are really SO HANDSOME.

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While gazing upon his SO HANDSOME face, our SO HANDSOME waiter talks us knowledgeably through the menu, which predictably have cutesy French sections like “Les Woks” for the stir fries and “Les Grillades” for the skewers and an ambiguously named “Larger” sub-section.  Based on our waiter’s SO HANDSOME recommendations, we order a number of different things – a few starters, some salads, a couple of skewers, “Larger” dishes and some of the stir fries.

We were given the wrong salad to start but didn’t realise this until we’d started eating it.  The green papaya salad (HKD68 + 10% service charge) was mixed with beef jerky, small dried crispy shrimp, cashew nuts and a spicy tamarind vinaigrette. We also had a serve of the Morning Glory salad (HKD68 + 10% service charge) but due to one of my homies serving shit super unequally, all I got was a couple of chrysanthemum leaves and some jellyfish pieces, in a pickled ginger and chilli vinaigrette.  My other homies who got first dibs claim there wasn’t any morning glory in there but I can’t fairly pass judgment here.  Regardless of whatever titillating named vegetables may or may not have been present, both salads had enough texturally going on and some good fresh flavours but both vinaigrettes were really fucking sweet, even as the tart tamarind and vinegars unsuccessfully tried to cut through it all.

The canh ga fried chicken wings (HKD78 + 10% service charge for five wings) are covered in a salty spicy mix combining Chinese five spice and chilli and predictably served with a side of sriracha mayonnaise.  While the actual wings are cooked well with crispy fuck yeah skin, my more enduring memory is how even though I’m into salty, fried food these chicken wings were pushing the sodium chloride friendship to a new level because it was definitely too fucking salty.

From the “Les Woks” section we definitely order up on some Les Disappointing dishes.  The glutinous rice promises clams, lemongrass, peanuts, salted cucumbers, rice paddy herbs and pork floss (HKD108 + 10% service charge) and it’s unremarkable in the sense that I can barely remember anything about it at all except the rice being sticky.  The Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese style crispy rice based pancake which is folded over a filling of chorizo, prawns, fresh bean sprouts and large red chillis.  You’re meant to break up the banh xeo and fold it into lettuce leaves with fresh herbs, dipping it lightly in some num nuoc sauce (lime, sugar, chilli and fish sauce).  It looks fucking incredible but in execution, the filling is entirely underwhelming, a mess of largely beansprouts dotted with the occasional prawn or chunk of chorizo. Whoaaaaaaaaaa check out the chorizo repping for the modern East meets West influences bullshit massive. But in reality, the chorizo just feels like it’s out of place and trying too hard to be proving some sort of culinary culture crossing point.  This fusion chorizo concept continues to bomb out even harder when it’s eaten in combination with the num nuoc sauce, which just leaves me thinking once again “Why is everything here so fucking salty??”

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The press on Le Garçon Saigon has been banging on about its grill and we try almost all of the skewers on the menu.  Per order you get three skewers and you can get selections such as the Wagyu beef Tri-tip / Bo Liu (Vietnamese beef teriyaki) (HKD138 + 10% service charge), the Pork Meatballs / Nem Nuong (HKD128 + 10% service charge), the Kurobuta pork / Thit Nuong (HKD128 + 10% service charge) and the proteinless / funless Zucchini & Leeks (HK68 + 10% service charge).  Each skewer is presented with a tray of fresh Vietnamese herbs, lettuce leaves, pickled carrots, cucumber, peanuts, rice paper, rice vermicelli pancakes and dipping sauces, so you can make your own wraps with the meat.  The grilled meats are a fuck yeah, with a good charcoal taste but the problem is that all the sauces that everything is served with are either too sweet, too salty or an awful fuck no combination of being too fucking sweet AND too fucking salty.  There’s a balance in trying to combine the Vietnamese flavours of sour, sweet, salty and spicy but Le Garçon Saigon manage to bludgeon my enthusiasm for their skewers into a bloody lifeless pulp by showing not a shred of nuance and instead hitting me with SWEET SALTY SWEET SWEET SALTY A BIT TANGY OK BACK TO FUCKING SALTY the whole fucking time.

From the “Larger’ grill section we ordered the Whole Red Snapper (HKD208 +10% service charge) which looks beautiful as fuck, grilled in a bamboo leaf package.  Be careful my white homies because this fishy homie is served in one whole piece, bones and all and requires some skillful dissection.  I’m quite into it, enjoying the fuck yeah sweet snapper fish which is very fresh and the fragrant bamboo leaf flavour imparted from the grill until I hit a patch of scales and end up trying to detach the large snapper scales that have attached themselves unceremoniously to the roof of my mouth. Fuck no to that bullshit, I’m already socially awkward enough without being further sabotaged by my choices in seafood.

The grilled half yellow chicken (HKD168 + 10% service charge) looks fucking sensational, all crispy skin and some fuck yeah looking juicy meat.  I rue the fact that I’ve chosen to come with so many homies because I want to eat at least half of it on my own.  Like all of the proteins that have come before it, it’s had a sweet ass time in the grill and the meat is juicy as all hell and fucking great.  The crispy skin is covered in lemon, a chilli-salt spice mix and a thin chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves, which initially gives you a good sour, delicately fragrant and salty mix but just like everything else, crashes down in a crescendo of salt.  At this point, I would cry from all of the salt if I wasn’t trying to preserve whatever precious fluids were still within my body as it teetered precariously on the edge of dehydration thanks to the half a kilo of salt that’s been in my food.

We finish all of our dishes and in a telling sign, my hands are so sticky from making all of those rice rolls with the skewer meats  With no moist towelette or finger bowl on offer I take this sticky moment to reflect upon my feelings towards every single thing at Le Garçon Saigon either being so salty, so sweet or so salty and sweet OR seasoned appropriately but then littered with fish scales.

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Piling into the “Les Desserts” section we try every single one on offer (all HKD68 each + 10% service charge) and this is a FUCK YEAH highlight of the meal, as Le Garçon Saigon present their modern take on Vietnamese dessert flavours.  The flan is a riff on the Vietnamese coffee, using condensed milk in the flan and topped with a drip coffee syrup, served with a salty chocolate sable biscuit to cut through the rich, sweet flan.  It’s fucking delicious and goes some way to calming my rattled so sweet, so salty bad juju from dinner.  The pandan waffle is delicate as fuck but still crunchy on the outside and it’s served with strawberries, mascarpone ice-cream and almond crunch.  I was really into Le Garçon Saigon’s version of the traditional Vietnamese “Che” dessert – a combination of smashed meringue, roasted pineapple, taro and sago, served in a palm sugar and coconut milk sauce.  There’s a scoop of “smoked” coconut ice-cream (which isn’t that smoky) and some smoked, caramelised peanuts (which I think were too smoky), but this is a small gripe in an otherwise fucking delicious dessert.

With all of that done, it’s a fun evening in a cool, new spot and I can guarantee that it’s only a matter of time before someone bails me up and goes “OMG, have you tried Le Garcon Saigon yet? It’s just soooo cool!”.  But the fact that it’s totally packed out after a matter of weeks means there’s definitely a place for Le Garcon Saigon in HK and it’s for that person we all have met a million times in HK, the type of person who doesn’t really eat or care that much about food and just wants to feel like they’re on point with what’s trendy.  Bonsoir motherfuckers, I’m afraid that I’m all about the food and even LCG’s SO HANDSOME waiters can’t replace appropriately seasoned food for me.

Verdict:
Fuck no.  But if you’re someone who just wants somewhere cool to hang out, drink fuck yeah booze and you don’t really care all that much about the food, this is totally gonna be your new fuck yeah hang spot.  Go on, wear your Sunday best and take your yappy little dog and sit on one of those outside tables and suck down some drinks while waiting for someone to throw down some air kisses at. MWAH MWAH DARLING, HOW FUCKING CUTE IS THIS PLACE??

Where:
Bun Cha Vietnamese Cafe & Restaurant (FB page)
Shop 1, GF King Ho Building
41-49 Aberdeen Street (just up from PMQ/Butchers Club Steak Frites)
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone: 
+852 2858 1900

Price:
HKD200ish a person including tip (no service charge) but we most def overordered.  Normal homies would probably get out at less than HKD200 a person. Hashtag, #thisiswhyimfat yo.

The deal:
One of the thing that has been a constant source of fuck no disappointment in HK has been Vietnamese food.  Yes, I know everyone fucking loves to line up outside Nha Trang / BEP and talk about how Vietnamese food is just ‘so fresh’ but fuck what people say, that HK Vietnamese shit is only just ok.  I just find HK Pho generally so fucking disappointing – the rice noodle selection is always fucking wrong (NO, HOR FUN/skinny rice noodles are the wrong fucking noodle) or overcooked and the soup always feels like inferior stock generally boosted by MSG and stock powder.  Call me fussy but I don’t think you can just throw in some raw slices of beef and some brownish tinged ‘fresh’ Vietnamese mint to turn a normal beef noodle into a ‘pho’.  Cut to me staring with anguish into a bowl of poorly executed pho as my heart yearns for the days of when I lived in Sydney and used to cruise on down to Cabramatta (where all the Aussie-Vietnamese homies are) where I’d get some serious fuck yeah pho by picking my restaurant solely based on who had the most Vietnamese homies in there.

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Bun Cha Vietnamese Cafe & Restaurant only opened about two weeks ago and my homie who lives close by tipped me off.  I rounded up Sir Crunchalot, Ms Two Serves and Ms Siuwaaan as we dared to dream that perhaps that this was gonna be the answer to all our HK Pho related problems.  There were some positive key leading authenticity indicators – I stalked their FB page which had awesome looking pictures of Vietnamese food, statuses where a Vietnamese wife was mentioned and messages where people were writing in VIETNAMESE.  When we arrived at Bun Cha we’d already seen the waiters look blankly at people who were talking Cantonese to them and after checking out their open kitchen, the kitchen staff are all jabbering away in Vietnamese.  Excitement levels were getting so hot it hurts and I couldn’t stand in the way of the Ms Two Serves and Ms Siuwaan Ordering Train who decided swiftly that we needed to try almost everything on the menu despite the large as fuck bowls we’d seen on the tables next to us.

Sadly, one of my Vietnamese food faves, the Banh Xeo (a crispy flour crepe filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts) was unavailable which meant that we had to start with the Ga xe phay (HKD68) as a token effort towards eating some vegetables. This salad is a mix of steamed chicken, finely shredded red cabbage and Vietnamese herbs and captures those classic fuck yeah Vietnamese fresh flavours by dressing this with a mixture of mint, coriander, lime juice, chilli, sugar and fish sauce.  The Tom Cuon fresh prawn spring roll (HKD68) was solid too but I found the Cha La Lot Luon (HKD68) more interesting.  Maybe because it was fried and we all know that fried food generally conquers unfried food but the Cha La Lot Luon was a grilled pork patty which was wrapped in a pepper leaf and all fried up together.  We also ordered a Banh Mi (HKD60), which holds a special place in my heart as being one of the best sandwiches of all time and it was one of the better ones I’ve had in HK – served warm, it was a good mix of grilled pork belly, liver pate, coriander and pickled vegetables, held together by a crusty roll and an ample amount of mayonnaise and butter.  I just can’t ever move past the best fucking sandwich I’ve ever eaten in my entire life which happened to be a Banh Mi in Hoi An, Vietnam at Tiem Banh Mi Phuong.  You should definitely fuck off that Sunday’s Grocer hipster gentrified Banh Mi bull$hit and get involved at Bun Cha instead.

However this was all just warm up for the Bun Cha and the Pho we had ordered.  A Bun Cha is a dish which originates from Hanoi and is traditionally some sort of grilled fatty pork (cha) mixed with thin white rice vermicelli noodles (bun), this is then mixed through with herbs and a thin, slightly sweet and sour sauce which combines chilli, fish sauce and vinegar which you pour over your noodles.  Due to a kitchen mistake, one of our grilled lemongrass pork roll orders arrived as a Bun Cha which meant our table of four was confronted with THREE massive bowls of bun cha (HKD68 each).  The grilled beef and pork each one was served it was a fuck yeah but once the meat was gone we were left with a shit tonne of noodle mixture with no more fucking delicious grilled meat to eat with it.

The Pho Bo (HKD68, Beef Pho) arrived and this is where shit truly got real at Bun Cha Vietnamese Cafe & Restaurant.  We devoured that bowl of pho as if we hadn’t eaten for days, only pausing to remark on how dreams really can come true.  FUCK YEAH, it’s possible to have pho in HK which has the RIGHT fucking noodles that aren’t a mushy disaster and the soup was full bodied and clearly the result of a proper stock base made from beef bones, charred vegetables and no lazy-ass powders or shortcuts.  Imma gonna declare it that this is the best fuck yeah pho I’ve had in the Kong and I think we told the staff at Bun Cha about 12 times before we left how fucking happy we were after eating their pho, eyes glistening with tears induced by superior fuck yeah beef stock.

Next to our table was a group of girls who were similarly so fucking happy with their pho and we chatted to them about how fucking awesome everything was.  One of them was ordering their food in Vietnamese so I can only assume that she knew more about Vietnamese food than myself.  We spotted that they had some sort of awesome fried spring roll thing so we got involved and ordered the Chu Nem (HKD88).  OH MY YASSS, you take this prawn and pork fried spring roll and wrap it with fresh herbs and lettuce leaves before dipping it into a sweet, slightly spicy sauce.   Major fuck yeah times homies, if you come here promise me that you must order this dish so you can be a better person.

As Ms Two Serves ain’t called Two Serves just as a cute nickname, the four bowls of noodles and other dishes that we’d already ordered wasn’t enough to satisfy her wanton desire for moar food so she was left with no other choice but to revisit our FUCK YEAH PHO times experienced a mere 10 minutes ago by ordering ANOTHER bowl of pho. We wanted to try the Pho Ha Noi (HKD78), a fresh beef and ginger pho, but it was unavailable.  NO BIGGIE though cause we just double downed on the Pho Bo again which we’d already had.  Same same but still fucking awesome so no tears, just fuck yeah shit eating grins cause fuckkkkk it’s all about the noodles and the soup as our entire table bathed in the blissful glow of fuck yeah pho feelings.

I quizzed one of the ladies who was serving us and I suspect she’s one of the owners.  She told me that she’s from Hanoi and she’s been in HK for over 14 years but now that her children are older that she had more time to be able to cook her food and open this restaurant in HK.  It’s not that I have a PhD in Vietnamese Food (but fuck, LBR, I don’t have a PhD in fucking anything) but I did spend a week in Vietnam once, so I should know what’s up.  But in all seriousness, there was something really heart felt about the food served at Bun Cha and you can’t turn out bowls of fuck yeah pho without giving a fuck about what you’re doing.

I almost don’t want to tell you assholes about this place because Bun Cha doesn’t have that many tables and I want to keep my unfettered access to securing fuck yeah pho in HK.  However, take it as an indication of my selfless fuck yeah nature cause I know my best FYN homies are gonna be all over this well priced, superior fuck yeah Vietnamese food.

Verdict:
FUCK YEAH, PHO LIFE, ALL DAY ERR DAY.  Don’t forget the Chu Nem times either.

Where:
Tiệm Bánh Mi Phương
Hoang Dieu Street, Hoi An, Vietnam
(This site has a great map and pictures of the stall – may be difficult to locate otherwise)

Phone:
Lolz – it’s a street stall, just go.

Price:
Even though they charge non-locals double…it’s still only USD1.25 a banh mi.

The deal:
Excessive sandwich rant coming up so TL:DR: BEST FUCKEN SANDWICH EVER. GET NOW.

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese grilled pork roll with a variety of things on a fresh French baguette style roll. Tiệm Bánh Mi Phương is a famous little street stall in Hoi An – Anthony Bourdain went once which has lifted its profile slightly. I can’t think about how many ‘self confessed foodies’ have stopped here and taken numerous photos of these things, letting their Banh Mi go cold in the sake of getting the shot (even worse, I saw a tourist stop, take a photo and not even buy a roll??!). Without doubt, this is the best sandwich / roll I’ve ever eaten in my life. My husband was snacking down on one, delirious and barely pausing for breath – before declaring it the best thing he’d ever eaten on bread ever and that it was the most viscerally satisfying sandwich of his life. We rarely take food photos and we even broke pace to take one (the resulting photo was blurry – husband’s hands shaking too much from the banh).

What can I say – it was fucking unbelievable. From the fresh warm crunchy roll, the yellow mustard sauce (we suspect a mix of butter + mustard), grilled pork, secret dressing (chilli, soy, garlic, sugar….I don’t know the rest of this magic), fresh Vietnamese mint/normal mint/mixed greens/coriander/chives, shredded carrots and radish, the liver pate, fresh chilli, chopped tomatoes and the addition of the deluxe fried egg this is one of those things that you will eat and forever remember. We talked about our Banh Mi for the rest of the night – hours after the main event. We talked about the banh mi this morning. In fact, we’re going back today for another one.

A stream of locals will also frequent this place and they see you sitting there, so they sidle up to the counter and try and hide the fact they are paying the local price (VND10k = USD50c). So, there’s one thing about Vietnam that gets a fuck no from me and that’s the dual pricing system they have for locals v tourists. Sure, it must be annoying as fuck to have these tourists everywhere, sullying your country, mocking your culture by wearing cheap pointy straw hats and throwing money at cocktails which is equivalent to your monthly wage – but the level of foxing in Vietnam is strong and they don’t even seem to care that you know. HOWEVER, the Banh Mi that is forever etched into my dreams and consciousness cost VND25k (cUSD1.25) so how fucking mad can you really get?

Verdict:
Banh! And the mi is gone. MOTHERFUCKEN FUCK YEAHHHHHHH.

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