Address: 1840-4720 Mcclelland Road, Richmond, BC V6X 0M6
In Vancouver, there is an abundance of Vietnamese restaurants. They usually offer fulfilling meals inexpensively. Bánh Mì Très Bon is a new kid in the block and it offers a different take on the Pho experience.
The first impression to me when I step into Bánh Mì Très Bon is the atmosphere. It is decorated like a traditional upscale self-serve cafe in Vancouver; where there is an ordering counter and a pickup counter. There is also a cutlery table at the back with an assortment of water dispenser and bowls etc. Because the ordering counter is facing the entrance, I was greeted immediately by the possibly owner. She then go into showing us the large menu on the wall to the right and also the special menu on the display fridge. They offer savory as well as sweets like mini crepe and macaroon.
Like many other restaurants we go to, we always try the staple food. I order the spicy beef noodle soup (special noodle soup or #1 in most Pho place) and wife orders the beef stew. Additionally, we order the topioca dumplings as appetizer. Upon ordering, we are given a table number, and the owner advises us that they will bring the food to us but do help ourselves with water and any other items we require.
While we are waiting, I starting to like the design/decor of the place. It has a French essence to it. The wall has various posters, pictures, books of many things Vietnam. It is not that different from some French bakeries in Vancouver. Maybe they borrow the ideas from them? It is a small store that can seat about 30, but the vibe is slow, everyone is seemingly enjoying their food. On my count, many people orders drinks, noodles and dessert.
Compare to other Vietnamese restaurants, Bánh Mì Très Bon is slower. Our noodles come in about 7-8 minutes after we are seated. I am impress with the presentation already. My expectation of Pho is a white bowl of beef noodle in soup along with a white plate of bean sprouts and Thai basil – simple at best. Bánh Mì Très Bon serves the food on a bamboo tray with a colorful bowl and bean sprouts served on a “boat” made from rattan. Even the spoon comes in different colors!! Suddenly this place feels very different.
While my wife disagrees, I feel the broth (the soul) of the noodle and the stew has a distinct complexion. The use of different spices gives it a unique aroma and taste. It’s good and very different than other Pho places but it doesn’t taste quite “mature”. It tastes like things I make from a pressure cooker. As much as I hate to say, there is a difference of flavors cooked from a pressure cooker and slow cooker. The slow simmer is what makes bone stock tastes better over time. Like I said earlier it feels like a new, young kid rather than a mature adult!!
Other than the soup, I can’t fault them for anything, it has a sufficient ratio of noodle, meat and soup. I am quite happy with the portion. The hot bread that comes with the stew is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, again excellent presentation and texture. The stew is moist and meats easily break apart, that is a good indicator it is done with a pressure cooker or steam. I think I would love it more if it is done in the slower way. I think their use of spices and greens are excellent choice.
The topioca dumpling is disappointing. We had better ones in Hoi Anh Cafe. The portion is small, the wrapping is a bit think and too chewy, and the filling is tiny. For $8, it’s just not up to par.
We have not tried the dessert, the sandwich (next time must try) and drinks. I will be updating this next time. I am a bit hesitant about the Vietnamese coffee because they are usually not done properly.
Bánh Mì Très Bon is a new Vietnamese restaurant that offers an impressive selection of dessert, sandwiches (that’s what their name is), and noodle shop. The upscale atmosphere and level of service is above the average Pho restaurant in Vancouver. Just the design of the store and the presentation of the food is already worth going. However, the menu items are generally slightly more expensive than other Vietnamese restaurant. If you are going to expect a simple bowl of noodle to fulfill your hunger, it will not be your place; if you are going to appreciate the little details the owner has put into the place and also want to grab some cute looking dessert while you are at it, it is definitely worth a try.