With it’s focus on Vietnamese street food, this restaurant plays homage to The Lunch Lady in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The Vancouver restaurant is a collaboration between Nguyen Thi Thanh (aka The Lunch Lady) and Victoria Tran and her son Michael Tran.
Lunch here is based on the daily dishes of The Lunch Lady; however, dinner takes on a life of it’s own with many of the dishes inspired of Vietnamese classics with a twist by Chef Benedict Lim along with Chef Victoria Tran.
The restaurant now features an outside patio which I experienced. Inside seating has been reduced from 55 to 30 due to the pandemic, the room features Plexiglas barriers between tables.
I experienced The Lunch Lady in the evening a couple months after it had opened, this provided me with the excitement of eating delicious Vietnamese street food with Chef Ben turning up the recipes a notch with his local flair.
I have tried a selection of items off the dinner menu which includes the KHOAI MÔN CHIÊN MUỐI ỚT – FRIED TARO CHIPS, *TÔM CHIÊN GIÒN – CRISPY CHILI SALTED PRAWNS, *PHỞ MARROW, BÁNH TRÁNG NUỚNG – ROASTED RICE PAPER, *BẮP XÀO – CARAMELIZED CORN, PHỞ BÒ – BEEF NOODLE SOUP (GF), GÀ NƯỚNG MUỐI ỚT – CHILI ROASTED CHICKEN, CHẢ CÁ THĂNG LONG – TURMERIC LINGCOD (GF), CHURROS CÀ PHÊ SỮA ĐÁ along with a couple of refreshing drinks, the TRA DA (iced jasmine tea), and CALAMANSI SODA CHANH
A few things to note with a couple of the dishes, for the Chili Roasted Chicken dish, Rau Ram (aka Vietnamese Coriander) the spice on the outside of the chicken, they also use it on some of the other meat dishes (from Vietnam). the chicken is marinated for 48 hours then sous vide, making for delicious and flavourful chicken.
For the Beef Pho, the broth features some secret ingredients along with seafood which is imported from Vietnam, and the beef broth cooks for 24 hours which gives it wonderful umami.
Lunch Lady, the critically acclaimed street food stall featured in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations TV show, is the product of Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh’s decades of heart and soul poured into masterfully crafted dishes. Her street food has been drawing international foodies and celebrities to a humble and unassuming alleyway in Hồ Chí Minh City since 1997.
The Lunch Lady is located at 1046 Commercial Dr in Vancouver. They are open daily for lunch and dinner.
By: Richard Wolak