Sherman's Food Adventures: Bo 3 Mon @ Le Petit Saigon

Bo 3 Mon @ Le Petit Saigon

For many, visiting a Vietnamese restaurant involves slurping some rice noodles bathed in a slow boiled beef broth. Add a dash of sriracha, sprouts, lime, chili pepper and basil - sounds pretty standard eh? Well, much like most of the ethnic cuisine in this city, it is what you call the "tourist" approach to food. We are mercy to whatever the restaurants want to serve us. That is why we see an over-representation of certain items on menus. One particular meal that we are only beginning to see in more Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver is Bo 7 Mon or "Seven Courses of Beef". Normally served only during a celebration such as a wedding, it certainly is a feast. Having already tried the Bo 7 Mon at Thai Hang (more like Bo 5 Mon), Song Huong and the Surrey location of Song Huong (again, Bo 5 Mon), it was time to go for Bo 3 Mon.

So when Karl suggested we meet up to do the Bo 3 Mon at Le Petit Saigon with Rey, Anita and Grayelf, I was there with bells on. Now, I've been here before; but I did the regular Pho thing (in the sweltering heat no-less). Fortunately, it was not as hot this time around. Not surprising since the summer we've had so far has been nothing but a rumour (I know, this is an old post!). Now, we weren't going to merely share a Bo 3 Mon, so we ordered a whole bunch of things starting with the Bo Tai Chanh or beef tartar. At first, they were worried that we were ordering this dish. They reiterated that it was raw and we kept nodding in affirmation. Even with that, the lady seemed concerned. LOL... Anyways, the flavour of the tartar was intense with hits of acidity, fish sauce, sweetness and herbiness. However, the beef itself was not exactly that tender. It required quite a chew which I was not a big fan of.

After this, we then moved onto the Bo 3 Mon. With any of the beef meals, there was the requisite plate of veggies and herbs consisting of sprouts, pickled carrots, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, basil and perilla. The trick to enjoy this meal is to take the beef and wrap it with the veggies, herbs and vermicelli in a rice paper sheet (which you soak in hot water). All 3 courses of beef arrived on the same plate consisting of Bò lá Lốt and a double order of Mỡ Chài. The Bò lá Lốt is the one in the middle and is beef wrapped in lot leaves (similar to grape leaves). The predominant flavouring for the beef is lemongrass and fish sauce which are quite evident in the flavour profile. On both sides, we had the Bò Mỡ Chài, which is essentially the same sausages wrapped in caul fat. All of the sausages were moist and flavourful (and quite filling too). We were full from sausages! Er... right...

By virtue of ordering other beef dishes, we created our own Beef 7 Ways meal (of course missing the some of the other dishes). We go
t the Bò Nướng Vĩ or Grilled Lemongrass Beef. The menu stated that it would be grilled table side; but I guess due to space limitations, it was served already grilled. I wasn't particularly fond of this one. The beef was chewy and really didn't exhibit much in the way of any flavours. This could possibly be due to the lack of charring and caramelization. Lastly, we had the Bò Nhúng Dấm or rare beef cooked in a vinegar broth hot pot (at the table). And once again, although the beef looked really good, it was chewy when cooked. I experimented with undercooking it and overcooking it with the same result. I guess it is the meat they use since all of it was chewy. One thing I must note is the Mam Nem (fermented anchovy dipping sauce) was not bad. It was sweet, salty and had the nice sharpness of raw garlic. I love this sauce in general and probably could drink it as a beverage. With that being said, I still like the one from Song Huong more. So basically, this was a self-created beef meal that ultimately had 6 courses. It was not bad in general; however, I do prefer the ones from Song Huong and Thai Hang more.

The Good:
- Friendly staff/owner
- If not looking at this meal, the rest of the food is pretty good

The Bad:
- Just like last time, it can get warm in there
- Bo 3 Mon is a bit pricey compared to Song Huong

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