Bún Thịt Nướng Chay Vegetarian Noodles and Beef – 182 of 365

Vegetarian Bún Thịt Nướng

A dollar bowl of bún thịt nướng is my favorite breakfast, and these grilled meats and vermicelli noodles from the old lady behind my apartment tower are one of the best perks of living in this neighborhood.  I’ve sampled attempts to recreate this dish in Atlanta, all over Saigon and many points in between and have yet to find one rising to the greatness of the breakfast lady’s.  The sweet glaze caramelized all over the soft boneless meats is that tiny bit of heaven only hot coals can create.

A vegan version of this all time great street food treat has tempted me for weeks at Au Lac Restaurant in Binh Thanh District at 237 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh.  Until now I had managed to abstain from taking the plunge as I somehow felt I’d be cheating on a food that really does bring me great pleasure.  And besides, how in the world do they take something with meat the star ingredient and turn it into something plant based yet still edible?  Well, let’s order some and find out.  Vermicelli noodles. Check.  Nuoc cham sauce.  Check, albeit vegetarian.  Herbs and lettuce.  Check.   Juicy grilled meats with a sticky caramelized marinade.  Not so fast here with this one.

The vegan substitute is spongy, artificial, and square whereas assorted natural meat parts so easy on the eye and sinful on the tastebuds grace a bowl of the real deal.   That’s not to say the vegetarian product isn’t good though.  The faint sound of grease sizzling in the kitchen leads one to assume this vegetarian creation needed an oil bath to reach fruition.  I think any benefit of not eating real meat is more than offset by the lard soon to be clogging my arteries worse than motorbikes here jammed into a rush hour street.  Can I order a bottle of water and gastric bypass with this one and just get the aftermath overwith?

For double the street food price with half the “meats” plus taxi fare, this vegetarian bun thit nuong is available just a mile away from where I live.  But with bún thịt nướng, why mess with perfection, especially when the breakfast lady’s authentic meat laden sidewalk stand is just an elevator ride and short walk away?

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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