Sherman's Food Adventures: Co Chau

Co Chau

There is no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants in the GVRD and in fact, in most major cities.  However, it always seems to be the greatest hits of Southern Vietnamese cuisine featuring the same ol' dishes.  Nothing wrong with that really as it does the job for usually a reasonable price.  However, Co Chau out in New West goes a bit off the usual and offers up tasty Vietnamese that is interesting.  They also have the usual stuff too.

Hands down, the best thing we ate was the Deep Fried Chicken Wings with tamarind.  If you take a close look at the picture, these were some really big drumettes and mid-wings.  As a result, this really helped keep the meat moist and juicy.  The fact that they fried it just enough didn't hurt either.  However, the star of the dish was the sticky, sweet and tangy tamarind glaze.  The wings were intensely delicious with a bit of spice.  Skin was decently rendered as well.  These can be spoken in the same breath as some of the best wings in town.

I know it may not be a big thing with most people, but their Veggie Spring Rolls were properly constructed with rice paper rather than a wheat wrapper.  The texture was completely different being lightly crunchy with a slight chew rather than the shattering crunch of a wheat wrapper.  Inside, we found a combination of vibrant veggies as well as wood ear and aromatic taro.  This was so good, I didn't even want to try the pork version.

On the other hand, the Bun Bo Hue was one of the weaker items that we tried. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with it, yet it was one note with only the dominant flavour being the chilis that added some heat.  It was missing the usual fermented flavours of shrimp paste (did they use any or not enough?).  I did, however, get some lemongrass, that did make it aromatic.  Yet, once again, the chilis were most apparent.

Back to super yummy, the Banh Cuon was money.  As you can clearly see, the sheets of rice noodle were super thin and translucent.  Furthermore, there was plenty of elasticity that provided chewing enjoyment and great mouth feel.  Topped with fried shallots (could've used more), the whole thing was aromatic.  Sometimes the Vietnamese ham is sliced an served on the side, but this one featured it sitting in a fish sauce-based dip.  Perfect for saucing the rice noodle rolls.

Our last dish was also tasty in the Bun Cha Hanoi featuring charred pork sitting in a nuoc cham-style sauce.  Oh wow, this was a flavour explosion in my mouth.  The trick is to combine everything with the herbs and lettuce and then dip into the sauce for extra effect.  Therefore, you get the crunch of the lettuce, softness of the rice noodles, flavour from the herbs and sweet caramelization from the pork all in one bite!  Delicious!  This pretty much sums up the food at Co Chau, it is absolutely delicious and not just some ordinary Pho joint.  I recommend that you give it a try, there are many more dishes on the menu that I didn't get to!

The Good:
- Some unique dishes you won't find at a regular Pho joint
- Impactful flavours
- With inflation these days, the prices here are reasonable

The Bad:
- Service is friendly, but can be sparse
- Parking can be tricky in this area


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