Some of you may remember this. This was way back in spring last year when we went for a little vacation in Seattle where we came across the first time the Vietnamese Seven Courses of Beef at the Tamarind Tree. It was one of the most memorable dinners we ever had. We lamented the fact that there is no Vietnamese restaurant like the Tamarind Tree in Vancouver.
Well, we finally found one restaurant in Metro Vancouver that serves Seven Courses of Beef. Suanne and I went with ET and Christina (of Doesn’t TaZte Like Chicken) to Song Huong right after the visit to Pearl Drops Teahouse.
Song Huong is located on Nanaimo St and 1st Ave in Vancouver. For some reason we had the address as 2408 Nanaimo but good thing we travelled south along Nanaimo because we found that it’s located instead on 1613 Nanaimo … otherwise we would have missed this place.
We realized this had to be the right place when we see the words “Bo 7 Mon”. We don’t read Vietnamese but that “7″ had to be it. Song Huong came across to us as a really authentic Vietnamese restaurant. From the outside, the signs they had are predominantly Vietnamese.
It took a while before we found the item on the menu … “Bo 7 Mon”. For a moment I thought “wow, $25.95 per person”? The menu did not quite say how many this would serve. ET was pretty sure it is not for one person. He was right. That $25.95 is meant for 3-4 people.
Song Huong is a large restaurant as far as Vietnamese restaurants goes. Forget about ambiance here. The decor is tacky at best. But the more we are here, the more we realize that this is a really authentic Vietnamese restaurant … a restaurant where Vietnamese goes.
The wait staff is really friendly and helpful.
Since it is meant to serve 3-4 people and that we’re quite hungry since we did not have much to eat at Pearl Drops, we ordered a couple of sides. The spring rolls was a great start. I like this type of spring rolls … I think this is rolled with rice paper which gives it a rougher skin.
The other side dish we had was the fried chicken wings. Again, these were excellent. As good as these were, these are just the supporting cast. My mind was all focused on the main meal … the Bo 7 Mon.
Before long, the main course started. It was bewildering all the items that put on the table. I had to repeat a few times to the wait staff that we need INSTRUCTIONS as we had no idea what to do next.
I had to repeat because she keeps coming and going with more stuff and when I reminded her, she just said “yes, yes”. I wanted to make sure she knew what I was asking. You know how it is, right? Some Asians when they don’t understand what you’re saying, they answer “yes, yes” with a smile. LOL! I just wanted to make sure … I definitely needed instructions.
For instance, we were not supposed to drink from the pot of “soup” above. See what I mean? I needed instructions.
Course #1 is the wrap … and we were supposed to wrap it on our own. I recall we made a complete mess when we first had 7 Courses of Beef at the Tamarind Tree. They have us a completely new pack of Vietnamese Rice Paper. There were a lot of rice paper in this pack here and we did not end up using them all. I was wondering what they do with the remaining uneaten ones. Are they dirt cheap that they just throw it away.
The main filler for the wrap is vermicelli. It did not looked too nice honestly … very clumpy. We did not care that much.
The other fillers were an assortment of vegetables and herbs. Come to think of it, Vietnamese food is generally healthy in that they eat a lot of fresh vegetables. The ones they gave us was not ultra fresh … that was what I noticed. They are still good but some of them looked like they are beginning to wilt already. I attributed this to the fact that it was less than 1 hour from closing time.
These green thingies … was told that they are bananas. They don’t look like bananas to me.
Then there are these garnishes provided to be added to the wrap. The chilli was really hot. I like the fragrant lemon grass.
So, where’s the beef? Here it is … sliced thinly and raw.
We lightly cooked the beef in the broth they gave us. I have no idea what the broth was but was supposed to impart some flavor to it.
Then came the hard part … the assembly. Theoretically it was simple. Dunk the rice paper in the bowl of water to soften it. And then you just put in whatever ingredients you like. The trick is not to be too greedy and pile it up so much that the wrap does not hold.
Here it is … my masterpiece. It does not look very professionally done but it does the job … i.e. it did not fall apart all over the table when I first did it in Tamarind Tree.
Christina made sure that she had everyone’s attention before she started her wrapping. Grudgingly we had to admit that hers was the prettiest. Show off!!
At that point, we were quite pleased … after all the excitement doing this I was thinking … good, first course of seven.
They then brought this plate of beef rolls. That is courses #2, #3 and #4. Hah! It was too good to be true. They all looked and tasted the same. OK they looked a bit different but if they had not told me, I would have thought this is a single dish.
This next one is dish #5. Just ONE big dollop of beef cut into quarters. LOL!
Course #6 is some Beef Salad. It was alright … it was good. It’s just that it felt a lot like the course #1, without the wrap.
Course #7 was Beef Porridge. It was quite flavorful. By the time this came, we were quite full already and so did not savour this as much as we should.
I was quite pleasantly surprised that this all came to less than $40 before taxes. So that means that between the four of us, it is just $10 per head.
If you are a fan of Vietnamese food like Pho, Banh Mi and spring rolls, you should go to Song Huong and try the Seven Course of Beef. I know you will like it as much as I did.
BTW, does anyone of you out there know of another Vietnamese restaurant that serves Seven Courses of Beef? Or is Song Huong the only one in Metro Vancouver?
Suanne and I lamented that there are no Vietnamese fine dining places in Vancouver … at least not that we know of. You get versions of restaurants that offer fine dining but despite the prevalence of Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver, there is not a single one that offer higher-end Vietnamese cuisine. Someone should start one … I think there is a great demand for one.