Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bun Chay Biz'.

I feel like I write about Vietnamese bun (noodle bowls) a lot, but scrolling through the archives here, I can't find more than a post or two even talking about their deliciousness.  Which is probably lucky for you, because I have bun on the brain and am sorta dumbfounded I don't blab about it more here.  This website should really just be a bun blog.

Anyway, I discovered bun in the 90s, when I lived in Arlington, VA and used to dine frequently at the now defunct Cafe Dalat.  The chef-owner's many children helped her run the restaurant and several of her daughters were vegan, so the menu was decked out with tons of amazing vegan stuff.

Photo by Michael Horsley.  Used by permission.
All the cool vegetarian kids ate there back in the day, including Ian Mackaye, and the non-cool kids too.  We're talking yum-city for everyone.

I loved Cafe Dalat's bun so much, I named our dog Vee-Seven in its honor and ever since the restaurant closed, I've been chasing its tail trying to find another one just as good.  I'll probably never succeed, but in the meantime, at least I'll have had more bun.

Beach Bun by my brother.
Bun comes in different forms, but in my opinion to even be considered a little good, it must meet a few specifications.  Obvs, it must be bun chay or vegan, which usually narrows the protein to tofu.  So first off, I have to like how the tofu is prepared. Bun as a rule contains vermicelli (that's what bun actually means) but there should also be fresh lettuce or other fresh herbs like cilantro, mint or basil.  The clincher is the sauce tho, since dry bun is a no-no-go and vegan bun sauce is not common  (traditionally it's made from fish).  Bonus points for bun topped with ground peanuts and/or fried shallots.  The more you know.

Lazy-Couch Bun.
While no bun could ever fill the hole gouged in my heart by Cafe Dalat's V7, my stomach is still holding onto hope. Portland has been trying pretty hard, actually, and in the last little while, I've gleefully discovered some pretty decent attempts.  Stay tuned!



  1. intrigued..please follow with recipe!

  2. I share your bun love!
    I've been making bun at home using soy curls instead of tofu and it is super delish!

  3. That beach photo of Vee kills me.

    1. Me too! I need to show you the pics from the mechanical squirrel course!


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