Houston >Nha Hang Chay Bo De
Vegetarian Vietnamese soup without MSG.
Located in the Hong Kong City Mall to the far right side, this brand new vegetarian Vietnamese place (open just a few weeks) shows much promise. Housed in the same spot as a sometime bubble tea shop, it's owned by the same family that runs the successful "Com Tam Kieu Giang" just across the hall.
The stripped back ambience with the florescent light is typical of a Vietnamese restaurant in the Asian mall, nothing too fancy. The first time I came, I ordered the "Mi Tiem Bac King", the veggie version of the Chinese/Vietnamese "Mi Vit Tiem" or duck egg noodle soup. The owner proudly gestured to the Buddhist monk, who had helped her develop the menu with vegetarian cooking recipes from the temple. "We don't use any MSG," she went on to say, a HUGE plus for me, since I get major headaches from MSG soup overdose.
While the presentation was very basic, the "Mi Vit Tiem" did a great job of imitating the real duck version, with 5 spice and shitake mushroom flavors in the richly flavored broth that made it hard to believe that no msg was used.
But true to her word, I did not suffer from the debilitating MSG headaches later, and so I happily returned the following week to sample another signature dish, their veggie "Bun Mang", the veggie version of bamboos shoot and duck rice vermicelli soup. Another home run. My husband tried the "Bun Hue," which was not as good as imitating the real "bun bo hue," but 2 out of 3 isn't bad at all. My vegetarian girlfriend likes to order the spring rolls there as well. Another interesting menu item is their "Nuoc Mat" (translated means "cooling water"), a drink made with artichokes & rock candy, and filled with grass jelly and little tapioca covered water chestnuts for texture. My husband didn't care for it, telling me it was a bit on the medicinal side, but I really loved the idea of a healthy cooling artichoke drink, perfect to wash down my healthy no-msg vegetarian soup. Dishes, about $5-$6, specialty "Nuoc Mat", $3. Cash only.