A new Vietnamese restaurant opened down at the South Waterfront near work. Having a third option for lunch is cause for celebration in of itself, but that it's Vietnamese and I can get my beloved pho, well, break out the fireworks. So far I've just had a few things: crispy spring rolls, salad rolls, fried shrimp, lemongrass beef bahn mi, and green papaya salad.
The restaurant just opened on Tuesday (2 days ago) but I was lucky enough to be invited to the sneak preview last Saturday. Both the crispy spring rolls and salad rolls were great - I missed the dipping sauce, tho. The salad rolls had a generous portion of herbs. I did not like the bò lá lốt (grilled steak wrapped in grape leaves) though - too dry and bitter. I don't know if I've ever had them before, so it might just be my taste. The fried shrimp had a little bit too much batter, but it was tasty and hot.
My lunch yesterday was the lemongrass beef bahn mi and the green papaya salad. The bread was awesome and crispy crusty outside and the beef was flavorful if a teensy bit tough. It had lots of cilantro, carrots and daikon, not enough jalepenos for me, tho. There was a little too much mayo on there. I don't know if that is the norm. The mayo is made in-house according to the menu, and tasted good. The whole combination was tasty and filling. It is a 'premium' bahn mi in size and value. The papaya salad was really good, too. It came with 4 "Tiger Prawns" on a skewer (I would call them 3-inch shrimp), crushed peanuts, fried shallots and basil and cilantro in a fish-saucy lime vinaigrette. It was a very generous portion, but at $6.50 I hope so. I had half of it left over, making it a good deal for me.
Today I'll order the pho.
**Update: Just came back from lunch. Got take-out combination hanoi beef pho with lean steak, brisket and meatballs. Very nice overall - good broth, lots of meat and lots of noodles. Garnish a little skimpy - no culantro. :( Noodles were a smidge overcooked. Pho Oregon still has the #1 place in my heart, but this one is pretty good, plus it gets a billion punk-rock points for convenience.
**Update 4/18/2008: Tried the wonton noodle soup for lunch today. From the menu - "shrimp and pork dumplings, fresh garden vegetables and egg noodles in chicken stock". Overall a good dish. The dumplings were the best part - so flavorful and plump. I was pleasantly surprised to see the egg noodles were akin to vermicelli noodles in size. I like skinny noodles! In this case the noodles were perfectly cooked, but maybe too many? Bright carrots and broccoli along with bok choy made up the veggies. My only quibble is with the broth. I needed more salt and I thought the broth wasn't hot enough. Those are both very minor and easily fixable things, tho, so I would definitely recommend this soup. Next time I might order extra dumplings and fewer noodles.
Bambuza Vietnam Bistro
3682 SW Bond Ave.
Portland, OR 97239
Open Mon-Thurs 10am-9pm
Lunch is limited menu/take-out only.