Mr. Red Cafe has been one of those places where I’ve been telling myself, “I MUST visit when I’m in the area” but haven’t been in the area for years. Thankfully this all changed recently when Brian and I were running errands in the area and he asked me where I wanted to eat for lunch.
They have two locations, one on East Hastings and one on West Broadway – the one we visited was the East Hastings location.
Mr. Red Cafe featured Northern Vietnamese cuisine – which to be quite honest is something I’ve never really ventured into.
To start us off, we ordered the Goi Cuon Tôm, salad rolls with vermicelli noodles, fresh prawns and lettuce leaves ($6). These are two rolls served with a crunchy peanut sauce. The salad rolls are fairly popular no matter where you go for Vietnamese food, but I enjoyed these ones. The rice wrapper had a nice snap to them and were still translucent (ie, not over cooked). The vermicelli also had a nice snap to them as well and the ingredients tasted very fresh.
Brian ordered the Bún Cha Hà Noi – grilled pork belly and pork meat balls in sweet and sour fish sauce, served with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs ($14). The thinly sliced cuts of pork belly were a welcome change from how pork belly is normally served (in big hocks), but I really enjoyed the pork meat ball in the dish. The sauce which is sweet and sour fish sauce is quite mild but gives just enough of a tangy yet sweet flavour. I think Brian should’ve mixed it and let it stew for a little longer, but we were both hungry, so we devoured our food pretty quickly.
For myself, I ordered the Bún Bò Lá Lot – grilled beef wrapped in “La Lot” leaves with vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, crushed peanuts and fried shallots. It’s served with some greens, sprouts, cucumber and a light fish sauce ($15). The grilled beef is served as sausages – they’re very hearty and not too salty. The la lot (betel) leaves they’re wrapped in give it a nice crispy interlude. The leaves themselves don’t have too strong a flavour, if anything a slightly herbal flavour but nothing off-putting at all. I ended up using their concoction of vinegar, garlic and thai hot peppers that was at the table to give the dish a bit more of a kick and a sour taste (which I love).
Overall, I really enjoyed my meal, the presentation of each dish is beautiful and doesn’t feel rushed as many other Vietnamese places do. I’d love to come back and try more dishes (I noticed a lot of people were ordering their dumplings, so that’s on my radar for next time!).
For more information on Mr. Red Cafe and their menu, check out their site here: https://www.mrredcafe.com/menus