From Food Truck to Hip Bungalow
Starting as a Vietnamese fusion food truck, Les Ba’get upgraded to its first permanent location in a Montrose bungalow a few years ago. Blink and you might miss it — the house is tucked in a narrow side street off Montrose Boulevard with a small parking lot out front. Its location across the street from Inversion Coffee House makes it a perfect Saturday afternoon destination for studying at Inversion and dinner at Les Ba’get.
My least favorite aspect of this place is the parking, as there are less than 10 spots in the lot and street parking is very limited, so consider yourself warned. However, the restaurant itself is cozy, with a surprising amount of seating available after ordering at the counter. Behind the counter is an expansive menu of Vietnamese dishes as well as some specials for the day.
The Vietnamese offerings include breakfast items, banh mi (served on baguettes or croissants), spring rolls, noodles, pho and rice dishes. The chefs blend these traditional menu items with unique cooking styles and ingredients to create a fusion of flavors. One example is the 24-hour sous vide pork belly banh mi my boyfriend ordered. For those of you unfamiliar with sous vide, it is a cooking technique in which the ingredient is vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag and then placed in a temperature-controlled water bath for hours, quite unlike the chargrilled pork you’ll find in a normal banh mi.
I ordered the lemongrass grilled beef banh mi with a fried sunny side-up egg on top. These salty ingredients combined with the fixings of duck pate, truffle aioli, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, scallion, cilantro and jalapeño made for a standout sandwich that wasn’t overpowered by any one flavor. Some other banh mi fillings that caught my eye were the oak smoked brisket, coconut basil shrimp and lemongrass grilled tofu, as well as the housemade shrimp chips that can be ordered as an add-on.
Deviating from the established menu of spring rolls and egg rolls, we opted for the special basil beef spring rolls with housemade garlic fish sauce. We really enjoyed the flavors of the beef and the sauce, but I do have one complaint. The components (meat, vermicelli and vegetables) weren’t well mixed, making it difficult to taste all of them together in one bite. That said, I would be interested in trying other rolls, like the buddha fried egg rolls that come with a combination of taro, tofu and vegetables.
Finally, Les Ba’get has a really cool variety of beverages. I tried the vanilla cream soda sweetened with agave nectar (there was old-fashioned root beer as well) that served as a nice complement to the salty and spicy parts of my sandwich. Coffee junkies can choose to order the cafe sua da, or a Vietnamese iced coffee. The drink that intrigued me the most was pandan soy bean milk. Pandan is a leaf from a tropical tree (kind of similar to banana leaves) that supposedly has a unique, sweet taste. I’m looking forward to trying it along with some of the other interesting dishes next time.
While the prices are a few dollars higher than what you’ll find at other places like Les Givral’s (a banh mi will run you about $2-$3 more at Les Ba’get), they are well worth it for the opportunity to try generous portions of food that leans toward Vietnamese fusion rather than traditional Vietnamese.
More from The Rice Thresher
With summer right around the corner, many students’ brains will finally have space for things other than organic chemistry or the latest coding problem that needs to be solved. Take this time to read for enjoyment again. The following are a series of summer recommendations perfect for time on a plane, by the pool or just on your couch. All incorporate travel in one way or another, and each has its own adventure that will leave you yearning for more.
Robert Eggers is a filmmaker whose work has been defined by its small scale and intensive focus on characters. His prior films, “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse,” both feature a small cast and embrace environmental horror as terrifying events slowly pull the main ensemble apart. His reputation for his smaller scale and focus is partly why “The Northman” was so interesting upon its announcement — “The Northman” blows up Egger’s storytelling onto a massive scale. The locations, number of characters, and time period all dwarf his prior films. For the most part, Eggers steps up to the plate, succeeding in his ambition. “The Northman” will be available to watch in theaters April 22.