Sherman's Food Adventures: Bao Chau

Bao Chau

Proclaiming that you have the "best of <insert something here>" can be either a great marketing ploy or the kiss of death.  It reminds me of Buddy in the movie Elf finding the "world's best coffee".  If you're not even remotely close to being outstanding, people will eventually catch on.  Well, let me rephrase that, "most" people will catch on...  Having tried many different Vietnamese spring rolls in the past 5+ years, it seemed like a good time to investigate Bao Chau's claim as the "best spring rolls in town".

Cutting right to the chase, we started with their specialty being the Fried Spring Rolls.  The first thing I noticed was the hardness of the crispy rice wrapper.  I think the rice wrapper was too dried out prior to frying.  This, in turn, helped squeeze most of the filling out with each bite.  The filling itself was a bit too overprocessed where it was soft and mushy while lacking seasoning as well.  Best Vietnamese spring roll?  IMHO, I don't believe so.  We also got an order of the Bun Bo Hue and it was a fairly large portion.  There was certainly enough sliced tender meats to go with the al dente noodles (but they didn't use lai fun).  Kudos for the pork knuckle, but as for the soup, it fell short.  There was little distinguishing flavour such as lemongrass and furthermore, the amount of chili oil only added a slight spice where it lacked shrimpiness.

Viv had the Pho Dac Biet which was also chock full of noodles and meats.  We found the broth to be on the sweeter side where it was a direct result of MSG.  Definitely a good value and a great way to fill one's tummy, but hardly memorable either.  For the kiddies, we got them an order of the Grilled Chicken and Fried Egg on Rice.  There was no mention of lemongrass, hence, we weren't surprised to see it lacking in aromatics.  Moveover, the well-charred chicken which was a little short on marinade in general.  However, the meat was fairly moist while the portion size was large.  As you can clearly see, this revisit to Bao Chau refutes their claim as the best spring rolls in town.  They're not bad though, but hardly the best.  As for the rest of the food, it is decent with the emphasis on value.

The Good:
- Large portions
- Decent eats

The Bad:
- Not the best spring rolls in town

Bao Chau Vietnamese on Urbanspoon


Steve said...

I agree 100% with your points on the spring rolls. I have tried them on 3 different occasions and, in my opinion, any rating over "average" would be more than generous. I really don't get the hype that I've heard from other reviewers.

DiscoJunkie said...

OK... So where has better spring rolls then? Bao chau def has my favourites in the city.

Sherman Chan said...

@Blaine Walter As much as it is not exactly the same, the Crab Spring Roll at Mr. Red is very good. Try it and let me know what you think.

Steve said...

@Blaine Walter Or, on the same block as Mr. Red, Le Do Vietnamese restaurant offers not only an excellent traditional spring roll but also an even better (IMO) spicy spring roll. Read this Friday Lunch blog for a description of it.

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