While stopping in East Vancouver, we stumbled across a new vietnamese restaurant on East Hastings called Mr. Red Cafe and decided to grab lunch here.
They’d opened for business in just the last month or two, they still had their grand opening floral bouquets by the door.
It’s a fairly compact space (probably seats 25-30) but very clean with some vibrant red and black accents around the room. We were seated immediately by the window, and I think we got one of the last available tables (there was a line up at the door shortly after we sat down).
I ordered the banh mi bo kho (beef stew and bread)
This is the vietnamese style beef stew, using cubes of tough cuts of meat (in this case, I think it’s chuck), browned and simmered slowly with lemongrass, cinnamon, ginger, anise, carrots, onions, annatto seeds and fish sauce), garnished with fresh cilantro, served with a crusty french style baguette. This was a very good stew. It’s rich, lots of flavor, properly seasoned. The baguette is crusty on the outside, but soft and pillowy on the inside.
My lunch companion ordered the pho tai bo vien (rare beef and meatball noodle soup)
So this was a classic pho, consisting of rice vermicelli noodles, served in beef broth, with thin slices of rare round steak, and veitnamese meat balls, garnished with scallions and cilantro. It should come with fresh bean sprouts and lime, but we didn’t get any. The broth (which is the key to good pho) is very good. There’s a mellow beef flavor with just a light accent of the spices and seasonings, and the roasted aromatics. The rare beef slices and meat balls were pretty good, but otherwise not noteworthy.
The service was a bit off. The server was a bit overwhelmed and kept forgetting to bring things. We didn’t get the bean sprouts or the lime wedge for the pho. And our table was missing some of the standard condiments (we had the chili sauce, but no tuong den (hoisin sauce). We asked but never received any.
Mr. Red Cafe has some pretty good food, but they’re going through some growing pains. Patience my be key here.