Today, February 19, is Têt, and I’ve got Vietnam on my mind. While I do dig bánh mì for lunch and a late-night bowl of pho, I had never considered starting my day with Vietnamese food—until, I discovered Ba Bar.
Since opening in 2011, siblings Eric and Sophie Banh’s convivial spot has been an all-day affair, serving Vietnamese street food from dawn ‘til late night. Just in time for the Lunar New Year, Ba Bar has revamped the morning menu, inspired by Eric’s affection for Saigon breakfast. While Americans start their day on a sugary, bready, or greasy note that can often leave you sleepy, the Vietnamese begin with bright, clean, and spicy flavors to energize you for the day. Yes, you can have soup for breakfast. Here’s a sampling of Ba Bar’s offerings:
Tuck into beef congee, a savory rice porridge topped with grass-fed, WA beef, chopped celery, and fresh herbs. As comforting as a bowl of oatmeal, this congee packs a protein punch with its unctuous beef broth. A traditional donut (which the Chinese colloquially call the “devil’s donut” due to its fried sinfulness) tops the congee, giving you your morning pastry fix.
Care for a pancake? The bánh xèo is a perfectly crisp, turmeric crepe stuffed with pork belly, coconut milk, shrimp, and mung bean shoots. Served with a gorgeous garden of lettuce and fresh herbs, savor the crepe by making your own pancake wrap and dipping it into nuoc cham, a fish sauce. As chef Eric explains, the Vietnamese prefer to incorporate their greens into a dish rather than have a stand-alone salad. The bánh xèo shows how good that concept tastes.
Wake up your mouth with the bún bò huê, a spicy soup made with pork and beef shank, lemongrass, and vermicelli noodles. A delicious balance of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour, this flavorful soup will perk up your morning routine.
If you can’t go without your baked goods, pastries like croissants and cinnamon rolls are made fresh each day. Breakfast is served from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. daily.