I've long bemoaned the state of Vietnamese fare in New York. Yes, I'm well aware of the enormous popularity of Bahn Mi sandwiches across the five boroughs, but one sandwich does not a national cuisine make. And, without a significant Vietnamese population in town, authentic spots just haven't taken root. I know that if I really want to dive into a stellar bowl of Pho or get my Bun Cha Gio on properly that I need to head to Philadelphia or the Virginia suburbs of D.C.
But there seems to be a bit of hope in the air -- the scent of lemongrass mingled with fish sauce descending upon the borough of Brooklyn -- albeit with an upscale, urban wink and nudge.
Still, hard to complain when I'm enjoying beautifully prepared Bahn Xeo, Vietnamese egg crepe filled with plump shrimp, marinated pork, crisp bean sprouts and a few sprigs of Asian sweet basil, at a bar stool at Park Slope's new Vietnamese "gastropub" Bricolage.
And, it's equally hard to grumble at Carroll Garden's Nightgale 9, when this dish appears in front of me...
Certainly not traditional Vietnamese grub, but this Bun Cha Burger was inspired, piling on a grilled pork patty, bacon, pickled daikon, shiso, crispy pork skin on a heavily sesame-seeded bun. (And, yes, I put the pickled daikon on the burger, and crumbled the pork skin on top for added crunch.)
So it seems we're moving in the right direction, but I'm still hungry for more -- longing for more of a homestyle touch. So, plans for a Vietnamese dinner party are underway. Expect to see me on the hunt for roasted rice powder, split yellow mung beans, fish sauce and birds eye chiles soon. And, if you're very nice, you might just wrangle an invitation.