On most Fridays when Suanne and I have our date night, she would take transit and meet me at my office in Burnaby. It works better for me that way because if I get home, I just can’t go out again. Moreover, from Burnaby as a staging point, getting to any part of Metro Vancouver is just a short drive.
I remember someone telling me that of all the cities in Metro Vancouver, Burnaby is the most central location. It sounded kind of right when he told me that Burnaby is at most just one bridge away from everywhere else. Yeah, sometimes people measure distances by the number of bridges you have to cross.
Since we started off from the Metrotown area, we decided to venture north. It is a part of the city that we don’t go to often because of the distance from home in Richmond.
East Hastings, there are a lot to discover along this street. We thought we go to where Luda is to take a couple of pictures to post on the blog. Remember we asked if anyone wanted to help us make up a table for dinner in this post? That’s me. Suanne thinks I am too much a perfectionist to drive all the way there to take a picture of the restaurant just so that I have pix for the blog post. *shrug*
So after taking the pictures, we decided to go have dinner in Bao Chau. We have heard a lot about this place before but have no expectations whatsoever about it. Some people likes it and what they like about here is their spring rolls more than anything else. And it sure seems to be the case because the words “Spring Roll Specialty House” is even more prominent that the words “Bao Chao” on the awning.
It is a big restaurant. I would say it is about double the size than most typical Vietnamese restaurants.
It is also popular from the number of customers they have. It was not full but most of the tables were taken. Looking around, their customers are mixed with a fair number of them non-Vietnamese. I am not surprised because Bao Chau is a well known restaurant who had established itself in the neighborhood over the years already.
There is a rare sight of a round table in Vietnamese restaurants. I don’t see many of these sort of tables in a Vietnamese restaurant for sure. They even have a lazy susan in the middle of the round tables … except that they use that for condiments, sauces and eating utensils, and not for dishes and food.
Service? I must point out that the waitress has a sour face which is really obvious. No, it did not bother us but I think some customers may take offence to that glum unhappy frown. I certainly don’t expect smiles and all but walking around with a sour face will not do any good to anyone.
The menu is nothing exceptionally exciting. The usual suspects are there along with a handful of dishes that we had never tried before.
Suanne pointed to me an interesting thing she saw on the menu. On the left menu above and right at the bottom where the front page/logo is, is the words that says “For Take Out, Add $0.50 Per Item”. Strange right? She thought this is directly opposite of what the other restaurants do … that they give discounts for take outs. Instead, in Bao Chau they charge extra for take outs. I was wondering what the justification is for the additional 50 cents.
My eyes were only scanning for those dishes that has spring rolls. So I decided on the Combo B ($10).
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this. This is a really large plate of meat and contained … grilled pork hash, tiger prawn wraps with ham and two very important deep fried spring roll. I opted for vermicelli over rice to go with this.
The deep fried spring rolls were very crispy. I like blistered skins like these which I understand is how it will look like if a spring roll is wrapped with rice paper. When I saw the color of the spring roll, I was thinking about what Buddha Girl/Boy was saying that if it looked too dark they might have used old oil to deep fry this. Well, they were saying this in the context of salt and pepper chicken nuggets in Taiwanese restaurants but I guess the principles is the same. [Educate us BG/BB!]
The spring roll has vermicelli in the fillings. I must say it is rather ho-hum. I can hardly taste any meat or pork in it.
Suanne makes better Cha Gio. Go check her blog entry for making the Cha Gio here. There is also a video embedded in that post where the ladies at the Community Kitchen demonstrated how it is made. That filling is much better looking that the one we had in Bao Chau.
No, the spring rolls is not awful or anything like that. The wrapping is really crispy and nice but overall, the home made ones trumps this version.
The tiger prawn wraps with ham was pretty good. I like it. When I saw the word Tiger Prawns I had in my mind prawns bigger than the ones we had in this. Just calling it prawns wrap in ham would be a more accurate description.
The grilled pork hash was nice and sweetish. I can’t add anymore than just that I enjoyed this one too.
Changing topic. Tell me more about fish sauce. This is so important to the Vietnamese cuisine but I had never thought much about it. It is like they use fish sauce in every dish and they must have it with every meal. I know this is big with the neighboring countries like Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.
Anyway, I couldn’t finish the whole plate and had some packed to go.
Suanne ordered the one thing we never had before. This is called the Banh Tam Bi ($6.75). It is described as fresh rice noodle topped with shredded pork & coconut milk.
It was a unique taste, one that we never had in a Vietnamese restaurant before. We cant really see traces of coconut milk except the sauce left behind is slightly milky colour. We can taste the coconut flavour though. It was a different kind of taste but not something we would fall in love with.
We were not too impressed with Bao Chau to tell the truth. It wasn’t bad but we can find much better ones … there are a number I can think of just blocks along East Hastings.