Sherman's Food Adventures: The Lunch Lady

The Lunch Lady

Okay, if you have ever followed the late Anthony Bourdain, you will know that he helped popularize a spot in Vietnam called The Lunch Lady.  Now, unless you were traveling abroad, there would be very little opportunity to try the place.  With the opening of the Vancouver location of The Lunch Lady, it has suddenly become accessible to people in North America.  Well, sorta because not everyone is traveling and even if you could, there are restrictions in place.  So I guess count ourselves lucky if we live in BC, specifically in the Greater Vancouver Area.  Grace and I decided to check the place out for lunch (after the initial hype died down a tad).

Even though the Bánh Tôm Chiên (Crispy Prawn Fritters) have been somewhat of a hit and miss for some people, we thought they were actually quite good.  I believe that initially they were too hard according to some, but for us, they were light and crispy.  The prawn in the middle was meaty with a snap.  Although they were put thoroughly through the deep-fryer, we didn't find them overly greasy.

One of the more interesting things we had was the Bò Né (Steak & Eggs) consisting of marinated filet of beef, 2 fried free range eggs, sautéed onions, house-made pâté, Laughing Cow cheese and french fries on a sizzling skillet with a bánh mì.  Yes, lots of things going on here, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.  Steak was perfectly medium-rare and super tender.  Loved dipping the crusty and airy bánh mì into the runny egg yolks with the provided soy dip.  Mind you, spreading the pate and cheese on it was plenty tasty too.

Onto more typical items, we had the Phở Bò sporting a 24-hour beef broth, brisket, rare beef and rice noodles.  We found the usual condiments on the side including mint.  I found the broth to be quite impactful being well-seasoned and meaty.  The meats were tender including the rare beef.  As for the noodles, there was a modest amount where it was al dente and not clumpy.  Overall, this was a fine bowl of pho, maybe not my favourite in town, but I have no issues with it.

In actuality, we were more impressed with the feature of the day, being the Mì Quảng with prawns, pork belly, quail egg, fresh rice noodles and full flavoured pork broth.  I thought the broth was even more impactful and complex than the beef.  There was a natural sweetness to go with the seafood as well as the ample seasoning.  Although the seafood was fine, the best part was the tender and buttery pork belly.

Our last dish was not the most interesting, but it was solid nonetheless.  The classic Cơm Gà featured the usual rice, fried egg and char grilled chicken thigh topped with pork crackling and scallion oil.  Let's just say the chicken was well-chared and well-brined.  It was juicy and full-flavoured with the smokiness from the grilling.  Much like the rest of the meal, this dish was good and it would be nit-picking to find a fault.  However, there are some high expectations due to the inherent hype.  Is it worth lining up for?  Maybe not, but the food is prepared properly.  I would be open to trying their dinner menu.

The Good:

- Properly prepared eats

- Decent service

- Some interesting items

The Bad:

- Worth lining up for?  Probably not

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