I was downtown to have lunch with a friend, and we decided to visit the Baoguette Vietnamese Bistro on Denman street, occupying the space previously held by Beard Papa.
We started with an order of the mango salad
(apologies for the out-of-focus image, it was the best one I had, darned fussy cell-phone camera). This is a thin matchstick slivers of ripe (but still firm) mango, pickled daikon radish, red peppers and fresh basil leaves, tossed in a lime juice and fish-sauce dressing, topped with crunchy roasted peanuts and cooked split prawns. This is light refreshing salad with sweetness from the mangos, tartness from the limes, saltiness from the fish sauce, and crunch from the peanuts. It’s a nicely balanced dish.
This is a beautiful crusty french baguette, split and filled with slivers of cucumber, pickled diakon radish and carrots, fresh cilantro, a smear of live pate, and vietnamese cold cuts, with a little tangy mayo and some sandwich dressing (made from lime juice, fish sauce, soy and sesame oil). This was very good banh mi. The bread is crusty and crisp around the outside, but soft on the inside. The pickled vegetables and fresh cilantro provide from fresh crispness, and the sauce provides some tang and savoriness.
This is generous bowl of cold vermicelli noodles, topped with more of the cucumber, pickled diakon, and carrots, with a crispy fried pork spring roll, and good helping of marinade grilled beef. It comes with a small cup of nuoc cham (made from vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic and chilis). The beef is marinated in lemon grass, sweetened fish sauce before grilling. I found the beef nicely seasoned and tasty, but slightly over cooked. But the spring roll was very crispy, and properly seasoned. This is a very refreshing dish.
The room bright and airy but a little awkward in shape. Most of the seating is on the same level as the street, but the kitchen is partially submerged. It’s not a biggy though.
By the standards I have for most asian restaurants, the server was quite pleasant and genial, and made some extra efforts to please.
I may have to come back to try the pho at a later date.