A stone throw away from the ever busy Ichiran Ramen store along Jaffe Road at Causeway Bay, I found a calm heaven of simple, affordable food. Like its namesake, Vietnam Choi boasts an extensive menu of all kind Vietnamese dishes executed in no fuss, no frill manner.
Which was exactly what I needed after dumping a small fortune on some new suits at a tailor nearby.
“Pho Tau Bay” in noodle soup was a mixture of beef balls, tender meat and intestine in a bowl of delicious, rich broth with some of the silkiest flat rice noodles I have ever tasted. There was a certain depth to the broth which I enjoyed, and the beef was a delight to go with some sliced bird eye chilli offered by the enthusiastic owner.
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Just like my first time to La Cantoche, I was lost again. I blame it for the lack of the sign board that used to signal the entry to the Wa Lane, where La Cantoche is located at. But my feet hurried the hungry self in anticipation of the “party menu” that was just launched at the popular French-Vietnamese restaurant.
You see, the restaurant has just launched a “group menu” that allows you to book dinner for a large group, anything from a rather intimate table of eight to a rowdy party of thirty. Depending on the group size, the chef will fire up the kitchen to cook up various dishes from the menu, so all you need to do is to sit back and let the food and drinks – choose from red, white or rose – flow endlessly throughout the night.
And so the feasting began, and I am happy to report that La Cantoche hasn’t lost its charm since the last time I visited. If the dishes served to the table for the night was anything to go by, it seems like the kitchen got better since they opened more than one year ago. Here were some winners from the night:
Just like my first visit, the signature Rice Krispies lettuce wrap was easily the best dish for the night. Mixed with bits of pork, shiso leaf and spices, the Rice Krispies is devoured wrapped with lettuce leaves. The result was a refreshing combination of fresh greens with spices and puffed up rice (of which I kinda learned how to cook that night). It was a secret recipe of the owner’s mom. When asked if she ever did try the version at La Cantoche, the owner cheekily told us that she gave it a 90% rating. That made me wondered what was the 10% missing ingredient, coz to me this was already close to perfect on its own!
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At the best of time I am not a fan of baguette. Or sandwiches. I view them as “diet food” – a replacement to better temptations when I need to cut down my food intake.
But as I walked out of gym one morning, I was positively light headed from the lack of sustenance to start my day. I looked up and saw Bun Me, a little deli-like shop serving a curious menu of baguette, Vietnamese style, more commonly known as bahn mi.
And so I walked in.
The place was empty at that time of the day, but the green wall provided a welcoming effect. The smiling and helpful staff, of course, helped. I also noticed that this place were reviewed in multiple magazines; the clippings were on the wall.
I dithered over the selection available and made up my mine for a set meal of daily chicken soup and Vietnamese beef in lemon grass baguette, for HK$45.
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When it comes to Vietnamese food these are all I know:
1) They are healthy
2) They are soupy
3) They are usually cheap
Okay, these are not necessarily true, but for someone who is as novice to Vietnamese cuisine as yours truly, this is as good as it gets. So when I first moved into Sheung Wan and discovered that there is a Pho Tai Vietnamese Restaurant just a few steps from my gym (how apt, work your ass off and then haul it into a healthy joint), I made it into one of my frequent haunts.
Not a favorite, mind you, but a frequent one nonetheless.
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