I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there is something incredibly comforting and satisfying about good Vietnamese food. Maybe it’s a good thing I live in the Metro Vancouver area where there is no shortage of places to enjoy some lemon grass chicken on rice or a piping hot bowl of pho. And while you can order either one of those at Bao Chau, this joint on East Hastings near PNE is supposed to be best known for its spring rolls.
If you’ve been hanging around here long enough, then you might remember when we visited Bao Chau for Dot Com Pho in 2012. Oddly enough, I don’t think we’ve been back since that little lunch gathering. So, earlier this week, Susanne and I decided we’d hit them up again, this time for a “light” afternoon snack.
Vermicelli Bowl with Minced Pork Patty, Spring Roll, and Shrimp in Vietnamese Ham
Considering that Bao Chau describes itself as a “spring roll specialty house,” you’d assume the fried roll would be particularly noteworthy. It’s not. This isn’t to say that it is bad; it’s just not anything particularly special. I did find the skin to be a touch too chewy. The shrimp in Vietnamese ham isn’t found too often at pho restaurants (I see them more at banh mi takeout joints) and it offers the same kind of savory satisfaction as the minced pork patty.
The shredded pork salad rolls at Bao Chau (also available with shrimp or grilled pork hash) come pre-made and pre-wrapped in plastic wrap. This helps to hold them together to a degree, but this is shredded pork. It quickly becomes an explosive mess of noodles and meat.
Unlike Mr. Red Cafe and Broken Rice, you really shouldn’t expect a different kind of Vietnamese dining experience at Bao Chau. If you’ve been to nearly any other Vietnamese restaurant in town, you’ll feel right at home here. They’ve got (almost) all of the usual standards and seating is plentiful.
If you’re not a fan of the somewhat dingy environment (it has character!), then head to the other end of the block to Le Petit Saigon for a slightly less dingy experience. Each restaurant has its strengths and, for my money, I’ll likely find myself at Le Petit Saigon more often than Bao Chau.