Written on the window of this unassuming restaurant in East Vancouver are the words “Quintessence of Vietnamese Cuisine,” an indication of the deliciousness to come. Don’t let the unusual name of this restaurant deter you from visiting. This family-run restaurant specializes in Northern Vietnamese cooking, specifically from Hanoi. This is not the typical Vietnamese fare you find at other Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver (which are influenced by Southern Vietnam) and is a bit lighter.
On offer are a range of noodle soups, sticky rice filled with various meats, spring rolls, and traditional Vietnamese drinks and desserts. Everything on the menu is prepared with care in keeping with the traditions of their home.
Be sure to grab a banh mi which comes stuffed with your choice of filling ranging from pate and pickled vegetables to a beef stew sandwich. Another must have dish is the Bún Bò Huế which is flavourful with a slight hint of spice. They’re famous for their bun ca where the pork and rice vermicelli come separate from the dipping sauce accompaniment.
Regardless of when you go, be prepared for a line. The cafe is small with only a handful of tables. And why the unusual name? Mr. Red was chef and owner Hong Nguyen’s nickname in Vietnam.