Burmese Feast in Bo Laksa King’s Bubbles and Bits, East Hastings


Updated: 29th Oct 2014; This restaurant is now new management with the name Laksa King.

There is something different about Bo.

I just can’t figure out why people like him so much that they are rooting for him. I have not come across any restaurateur so well supported by the local foodie community. I mean, the support came not from just any local foodie community but it came from none other than the chowhounds of Vancouver.

Maybe it is because of his food. His laksa is second to none. Maybe it is because he had carved a niche out for himself by serving the one of the kind Burmese fare. Maybe it is because of his humble nature.

Whatever it is, almost everyone I know roots for him and wants him to succeed. I think he is a very lucky guy. With this kind of support, the restaurant just cannot fail.

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Ever since the discovery of Bo Laksa King almost a year ago, there had been talks about getting Bo to whip up a Burmese feast for the chowhounds. While Bo was willing, the problem was logistics. He could not host the Burmese feast in his little flagship “restaurant” … which seats a grand total of FOUR people initially. You see, Bo Laksa King has a humble beginning operating as a counter inside a convenience store. For those of you who have never been to Bo Laksa King, you gotta just read the post where we followed up on the chowhound lead and fell in love with Bo’s Laksa.

So, almost one year later Bo had finally moved in to a proper restaurant. It is a joint venture with a friend of his who had been operating a bubble tea shop called Bubble and Bits. I can’t help but notice that the words “Bo Laksa King’s” is smaller than Bubble and Bits on the signboard. This tells me that Bo is basically operating in the premises of Bubble and Bits. Not that it matters to us.

The good thing is now we can enjoy Bo’s Laksa is a more comfortable confines and he is able to expand on his menu.

So with a place able to host the Burmese feast, FMED worked with Bo to put together an exclusive Burmese Feast for the vanchow community. The moment I saw that event announced, Suanne and I quickly signed up because we know this will be a very popular event.

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Indeed it was. Bo Laksa could only cater to 24 people and the places were filled very fast. Some were put on a wait list. This is despite the fact that this Burmese feast is not cheap. It is $55 per person.

Not knowing what to expect, we were quite surprised how well setup the dinner is. He he he … a few weeks earlier, the chowhounds were talking about how Bo need to move away from using plastic cutleries and serve his food in real plates. They were even talking about helping him get a commercial dishwasher too.

So we had metal cutleries, ceramic dish wares and drinking glasses. Yeah, it was things we take for granted from other restaurant but for Bo, we were somehow glad to see that. The table cloth was made of paper but at least the color matches the restaurant. 🙂

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Bo even printed a menu of the night too. I am a stickler for details. I saw that little crown on top of the letter “i”. Bo had told me that he wanted to have a small crown as the logo before. I was wondering how he printed that crown because I half suspect that some chowhounds help him print it the way he wants it.

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A couple of words from FMED and Bo before the dinner got started. Bo came out to explain each dish as it was served. We all appreciate this because the learning is as important as the food to many of us food geeks.

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The first course is called the Lahpet Thoke. This is something you could sometimes get at Bo Laksa. In English it is called the Burmese Tea Leaves Salad.

This was a lovely start. The pickled tea leaves to make this is from the hilly plateau of the Shan state in north east Burma. This dish is uniquely Burmese and is one of the national dish. It is customary that this salad is served with tea when greeting visitors.

The salad has fried soy beans which gives this salad the crunch. Other ingredients include tomato, chili, dried shrimps, preserved ginger and dressed with peanut oil. This is an amazing salad … it is crunchy, lightly sour and tasted nutty.

On the side are raw garlic cloves and Thai chili padi. We were told that the traditional way to eat this is to eat the salad alternating with biting  a small piece of the raw garlic …

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… and the really hot chili. The raw garlic and the chili gives the salad an extra kick.

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The Pepper Corn Glass Noodle Soup does not look like much if I must say. I mean, it does … look like a jumble of ingredients which took us a while to figure out what it is.

It has shredded chicken, cloud ear fungus, fresh lily flower bud and lots of cracked peppers.

The flavour of this dish is light with the lily flower bud giving it a little crunch in texture. The freshly cracked black peppers give this otherwise light dish a little heat. BTW, did you know that black pepper originated from India. This is why black peppers are one of the common ingredients in Burmese cuisine.

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Bo said that this dish is also from the Shan state and is served in special occasions like a wedding or in celebration of the new year.

Oh … in Burma, weddings are celebrated for 7 days and 7 nights … with lots of eating. I would love to attend a Burmese style wedding for sure.

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The Pork Curry with Butter Rice is something I had tasted several times at Bo’s already. I remember I had this several rounds during the Burmese Water Festival and was by far the best dish I had during that event.

The butter rice was introduced by the British from India. A lot of the cooking in Burma is influenced by India … more so than their other East Asian neighbours such as China, Thailand and Laos. The butter rice is another popular food served during wedding celebrations.

The butter rice was great with the pork curry. It is sinfully delicious and packed with spices.

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I see that Bo had decided to choose a leaner cut of pork to make this. You have to see how he made it for the Burmese during the Burmese Water Festival — check the picture here!

I think Bo is afraid that us non-Burmese will not like the fattier pork.

Come to think of it, not many cultures uses pork to make this kind of curry. Malaysians are big curry eaters but it is uncommon to see pork curry because of religious issues.

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This is called the Nge Bie.

This is a platter of blanched or baked vegetables which include egg plant, water spinach, green jack fruit, bitter melon, lady finger and winged bean.

It seems like many tables did not quite finish this. Maybe it is because of the way it looked but Suanne and I like it.

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The Pork Curry with Butter Rice goes really well with Nge Bie. Well, I say that the legumes balances up the BUTTER rice and the PORK curry.

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The vegetables is eaten with a fermented prawn paste which is very salty and pungent.

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This dish is billed as the star of the night. This is the first time Bo is serving this and so we all look forward to this.

This is called Curry Hilsha Fish Egg. The fish eggs are imported from Burma.

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Bo told us that this fish egg has to be prepared very precisely. He said that all the veins here must be removed carefully. Otherwise it will be  fatal to people with high blood pressure. He said people can drop dead eating this adding “no kidding”. I couldn’t believe it but Bo did not blink his eyes when he said that. LOL!

I carefully inspected the fish egg for veins. There was none that I could see.

The fish eggs was dryish. Bo said that this had to be salted and dried before they are shipped to Vancouver. So yeah, it could have been better if it was fresh, soft and creamy.

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Bo’s version of the Spicy Crab is prepared with tumeric and Burmese Masala. Some people were heard commenting that the crab was rather small. Yeah, that is the most common thing people will say about crabs, the size of it.

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Despite the size, the crab was good. It leaves a lingering spiciness in the mouth.

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The national beverage of Burma is the Burmese Tea. This is also from the Shan state. I am begining to wonder if the Shan state is the culinary capital of the Burmese cuisine.

The tea is strong, really strong and is served with condensed milk and sugar.

You know, I can’t drink coffee or tea after 3PM everyday. If I do, I can’t sleep.

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Here I am being presented a super strong tea at about 9PM. I had to drink it. That night, I slept at 4AM. Suanne can’t sleep too.

Bo shipped a whole box of the tea and sold it to us for $5. The regular price is $12. Most of us bought one.

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The night ended with a dessert called Shwe Yin Aye. It is made of agar-agar, sago, tapioca pearl and served in coconut milk.

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There was a lot of food. Every table took home the leftovers. While there were a lot of food, we felt that the price of $55 was kind of steep. For that price, we actually expected more … not more food but more variety. Anyway, we sort of understand that some of the ingredients used had to be shipped in small quantities from Burma.

Suanne and I enjoyed the night having sat together with a nice couple who were quite knowledgeable about food. They used to teach cooking and so we learned a lot from them too.

This is the first time Bo hosted this. He said that he plans to host a monthly chef table which show case Burmese cuisine in future — with different dishes.

(Bo Laksa King's) Bubbles and Bits on Urbanspoon

26 thoughts on “Burmese Feast in Bo Laksa King’s Bubbles and Bits, East Hastings

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  3. wow, $55 is a very steep price tag considering that this place was brought to attention from van food bloggers like chowtimes. I worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry for 7 yrs+, and 3 at a malaysian joint, so the food served is similar. $35/person should be the accurate amount to charge with the food they are serving, since crab was the ONLY expensive item on the menu. PLUS they also got attention from this event too!
    $55, to me, is a lil bit too greedy from the owners.

    • I don’t think it’s greed on the part of Bo and Tiffany: mostly I think it’s inexperience, as this is the first time they’ve done a dinner of this size and type. For sure, given this experience and feedback from this first dinner, the next dinners are going to be much more reasonable in terms of quantity and pricing.

  4. I went to the Hasting location for dinner last week with a few friends. This location is just a few blocks from our house, so it gets us excited just for that. The food was excellent, just like the Joyce location, and the atmosphere is much improved. The service was a little dicey (the 2 girls we’re intermittently watching TV on their laptops) but overall was good – our food was well timed and out water glasses we’re always full. Our total bill for three people came to around 60 dollars including tax and tip. Pretty fair as we ordered a lot of dishes to share. The Spicey Squid, Mohingar, and the Pad Thai we’re especially good.

    The 55 dollar cost for the special dinner sounds OK. Especially as you’re getting a few ingredients that are hard to come by and ordered just for this event. It would be great to see a monthly chef’s table that highlighted a few different dishes. Something cool and less intricate than the chowhounds special.

  5. I am pro-Bo (and Tiffanie) for sure! I thought the feast was exactly as billed, Burmese specialties presented without much compromise in large quantities. Though I didn’t love the fish eggs, I was glad to have tried them.

    I had a chance to sneak into the kitchen for a couple of photos and couldn’t believe he and his staff were putting out so many dishes from such a tiny space. Reminded me of the kitchen at Canteen in San Francisco…

    Crispy, I’m pretty sure Bo didn’t put the laksa on the menu because it is Malaysian :-).

    • “Crispy, I’m pretty sure Bo didn’t put the laksa on the menu because it is Malaysian :-).”

      On 2nd thought, wouldn’t that illegitimize Bo’s entire premise ? [wink]

      BTW, I’m planning a LotusRapper workday lunch chowdownette this week at his Joyce location. All this buzz about BLK finally stuck. Then maybe a piece of Tres Leches from Panaderia to wash it all down 😉

      • What? Don’t tell me you had never tried Bo’s Laksa before, LotusRapper. I mean, you work so near. Let us know what you think. Ben

      • Will do, Ben. Actually I rarely go west towards Boundary/Joyce area, but you’d more easily find me at The One, Wen Xin, Sunflower Cafe or Pho Hong.

    • Hi Grayelf: Do you mind sharing the pictures of Bo in action in the kitchen? He he he … thanks for the affirmation that Laksa is Malaysian. Singaporeans claims it’s their own too. One day, Malaysia and Singapore will go to war over the claim of who created laksa. Ben

      • Gak, I didn’t mean to say that ALL laksa was Malaysian, just the version Bo has on offer. No war, no war!!

        The pictures I took are really terrible (and I’m not being modest). fmed has much, much better ones…

      • to play devils advocate, i have heard ‘Malaysians’ that do not think bo’s version is Malaysian. it should be said it is good regardless of it’s authenticity.

      • I take it all back! I just checked Bo’s menu and there is no mention of Malaysia at all on it. My serious bad. Here is the entry for the laksa: “Your choice of vermicelli or yellow noodle served with tiger prawn, fish ball, tofu puff, hard boil egg, chicken and house make authentic flavour coconuts curry broth.” I don’t know where I got the idea it was specifically Malaysian — epic fail on the fact checking… red face…

      • No, no, no. Don’t take it back Grayelf. For all intents and purposes, Bo’s Laksa is Malaysian style. The broth is exactly the way it is supposed to be with the key ingredient of coconut milk. The only different is his use of lime, parsley and red onion as garnishing. Malaysian style Laksa does not use this but it is a great addition to laksa. Bo also uses curried chicken which is a nice touch. In Malaysia, chicken is normally the shredded “white” chicken (not curried). One important ingredient that Bo does not have (and we understand why) is the SEE-HAM!! Cockles … sorry … RAW cockles. Also missing is the side saucer of sambal chili to spice the laksa up.

        Now … we are talking about Curry Laksa. There are many types of laksa, like assam laksa which is totally different (sourish by tamarind). Assam laksa is also known as Penang Laksa. Of course … Malaysia will go to war with Singapore over their Katong Laksa which is the closest to the Malaysian Curry Laksa. That is just naming some of the most common laksa. Frankly, the king of laksa is what Bo makes. Here are some pix of laksa: http://bit.ly/aiE6w4

        So, Bo’s Laksa is basically Malaysian style coconut based curry laksa.

        Ben

      • Bo used laksa leaf (daun laksa, rau ram) for a while in his laksa IIRC.

        Ben – what would be a good local substitute for raw cockles? Maybe butter clams, manila clams or littleneck clams?

      • Excellent question, FMED. I don’t know of any good local substitute for raw cockles. Although I don’t know butter, manila, littleneck clams very well, from Google Images, they don’t look like a good substititute. They looked like they have the texture of the type of clams we find in the local stores. The cockles flesh are soft and fleshy. So, I googled a bit more and it seems like the Japanese Akagai looks very much like it. I had left a message on http://vancouver-sushi.com asking about this. Let’s see what jer comes back with. Ben

      • Satays? That will be a case for war between Malaysia and Indonesia. Bah Kut Teh … now, that is between Malaysia and the “little red dot”. LOL!

    • Why is every event costing $50.00+ per person? We’re hosting a wedding dinner for 90 people and that cost $15.00 per person and we serve them duck and live crab! You’d would think the help from bloggers and foodies that Bo would charge less for his loyal customers…

      • Hi Doug: $15 is definitely a good deal from Golden Great Wall! Yeah … I agree that Golden Great Wall had been a generous restaurant. Ben

  6. That was a fun time Ben. We didn’t chat much during the event.

    Anyway, yes – $55 (includes tax/tip) was perhaps a tad steep compared to some of the group dinners we have been having lately (eg the 8GTCC). I was gald to pay it to Bo and Tiffany though….I see it as an investment 😉

    • Well, all thanks to you FMED for putting up such a successful event. Suanne and I had a great time and I thought the setting was just perfect. Ben

  7. I was surprised that Bo didnt serve his famous laksa in the dinner. I guess he wanted to showcase other Burmese dishes thats new to the Chowhounds.

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