The last time we were in Saigon, we went to a Vietnamese noodles restaurant that specialises in noodle soups from Hue (the central region of Vietnam). The food was so good that we have been dreaming of it ever since. So what is the first thing we wanted to do for our first lunch in Saigon? Return to that restaurant.
The restaurant is called Bun Bo Hue (bun bo means beef soup); actually its almost like Vietnamese fast food. It is a chain of restaurants scattered around Saigon. The restaurant is always full of locals. The decor is very oriental. The atmosphere is buzzing with people eating and talking.
The first soup as a central region soup with stewed beef.
The second soup was with stewed pork and pork pate.
The third soup was with stewed beef and pork pate.
The fourth soup was spicy Hue specialty.
The fresh vegetables, herbs and limes that go with the soup.
Goi cuon (fresh Vietnamese spring rolls).
Overall, we were disappointed in the service and the quality of soups. When we entered the restaurant, they were fixing the air-conditioning, so there was a mess and the room was very hot. Of course that is no fault of any one in the restaurant. It took forever to get a waitresses attention. Once we got our menus it took ages to get someone to take the order. Then the food took so long to arrive. There was something very strange going on. It was not the place that I remembered with fond memories. One waitress was always playing with her phone and not paying attention the customers.
AND on top of all that; the soups were not as good as the last time. The intensity in flavours that we loved in the soups were missing. The stewed beef was not as tender as before. The first plate of vegetables, herbs & limes looked tired that we had to ask for new ones (which also took a long time to arrive). The goi cuon was dry and bland.
It is too bad that it turned out this way. My friends and I were very disappointed that we decided to have coffee somewhere else than to stay another minute in Bun Bo Hue. Now, I believe in giving something a second chance. Maybe something was going in the kitchen that we did not know about; for example, the chef quit that day and that is why the soups were not as delicious as before.
So, the next time in Vietnam, I think I will give them another chance and try the food again. Let's hope they improved their act and food.
Bun Bo Hue (I lost the business card for the address of this branch, once I find it I will post it)