Overall rating: 4 out of 5. FOOD: 4 out of 5. VALUE: 5 out of 5. AMBIANCE: 2.5 out of 5
Just a few minutes off International Avenue (17th Ave. S.E.) is Song Huong, a tucked away restaurant serving specialties from central Vietnam, especially from former imperial city Hue, along with more familiar Vietnamese cuisine like beef noodle soup (pho). Read my Lunch Rush column in Metro Calgary, or continue on for the expanded version.
We started with steamed pork and shrimp tapioca dumplings ($6.25).
The earthy minced pork and shrimp filling was nicely balanced by the gelatinous dough and infused with banana leaf. There are 9, count ‘em, 9 dumplings! For those who eat dim sum, the texture is reminiscent of the a mushier version of har gow, those clear shrimp dumplings you must eat with hot sauce.
We continued with bun bo hue ($6.95), a special noodle soup dish with rounded rice noodles and an orangey broth, typically made with beef bones, lemongrass and chili. The version here is topped with Vietnamese sausage, beef shank and cubes of pig blood jelly (mmm, blood-flavoured jello).
Unlike pho, the bun bo hue comes with shredded iceberg lettuce and purple cabbage (or banana blossom). The sweet and complex broth had overtones that reminded me of lotus root and was mild spice-wise compared to other versions of bun bo hue that can get quite spicy. Read More
One of the best, quickest and cheapest meals are Bánh Mi (pronounced “Bun Me”) also known as Vietnamese subs. In my opinion, Saigon Deli in Forest Lawn takes the win for best beef sate banh mi in Calgary. It’s located in the same strip mall as Lucky Supermarket and has been around for over a dozen years. The subs are made fresh so there are usually long lineups on the weekend; however, the staff are efficient so expect about a 10 minute max wait-time.
The tiny family-run shop is probably 100 sq. ft tops, but it delivers big on mouthwatering bánh mi. You know this place is the real deal because their Vietnamese subs do not come with an option for cheese. If you want cheese on your sub bro, go to Subway. Read More