Is there anything better than a piping hot bowl of noodle soup on a cold, rainy night? It’s that time of season where the sun hardly comes out and the cold makes you want to stay at home in your pajamas. I found myself on such an evening, with nothing to eat at home and tired of ordering in, so I went exploring the Kingsway and Nanaimo area that I recently moved to. For those that don’t know, the neighborhood is full of great places offering a huge mix of Asian cuisines. I stumbled upon Truong Thanh Restaurant, a family run corner restaurant serving a delicious variety of Vietnamese dishes.
Upon entering, I was immediately greeted by an intricate aroma of spices wafting from the kitchen. After being seated by the friendly staff, I took a look around and noticed the array of traditional ornaments and wall decorations by the counter and, in the background, the busy restaurant staff yammering away in the kitchen. I knew I was about to get a good meal.
Only one thing would do it for me that night, and I was elated to find it on the menu: Bún Bò Huế. Originating from the city of Huế in central Vietnam, which is known for being the ancient capital and for having stunning imperial architecture; this deliciously complex bowl of spicy soup contains pieces of beef and pork, as well as rice vermicelli and the usual assortment of herbs commonly found in Vietnamese dishes.
Paired nicely with a plate of bean sprouts and greens to add to your liking. But for me, it’s all about the broth. It’s slow cooked for hours allowing the spices and bones to mix together and form a rich, flavor packed bowl of deliciousness. The first spoonful sent waves of soothing warmth down my body fighting away the bitter cold from outside, and reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. It felt like being home for the holidays.
As I sat slurping down my tasty food, I watched a Vietnamese hip-hop talent show being played on the TV. The distant shouting from the lady to her family in the back didn’t bother me, it all added to the ambience of the place. I couldn’t help wondering why there were only a few guests, while the KFC next door had a line stretching around the corner. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some fried chicken, but small, unassuming places like this are actually worth leaving your house in the cold for. This place kicks ass. It’s a real gem, a little slice of Vietnam in Vancouver.
Truong Thanh restaurant is located at 2096 Kingsway and they’re open till 9 pm every night. They serve authentic Vietnamese dishes including the usual suspects phỏ, bánh mì, lemongrass chicken rice, and loads more. But for me, there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of bún bò Huế on a cold Vancouver night.