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“Bun (boone)”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Asian Lower East Side Moderate Good

What Momofuku did for ramen (turn it into a cult favorite capable of inciting frequent foodie riots), Bun (say BOONE!) clearly hopes to do for vermicelli rice noodles. This sleek new Vietnamese restaurant—a lean wood-paneled space decorated with sleeping Buddhas located on a dark stretch of Grand Street, is named for these thin silky alabaster threads (vermicelli rice noodles are called Bun in Vietnam), and they show up in almost every dish served on this “small plates” menu. You’ll find them stuffed and rolled up into summer rolls, filling up cold bowls piled with shrimp, steak, Berkshire pork belly and fish, and swishing around in steamy broth bobbing with clams, hen meat and crab. In short, wherever you turn, chances are you’ll find your chopsticks anchored in a fluffy cluster of vermicelli noodles. The chef moving vermicelli into the ramen spotlight is Bun’s owner, Michael Bao Huynh, who first splashed onto the scene with his melt-in-your-mouth short ribs skewered onto sugarcane at Bao 111 (from which he has severed his ties) and then expanded his empire to include Bao Noodles (from which he has also severed his ties) and recently opened Mai House—with Drew Nieporent, with which he is still associated. (Try to keep track, there may be a quiz).
What I found on my dinner visit last week, with a half dozen friends gathered together to welcome my brother to the city (he was visiting from SF), was that the focus on vermicelli is both a strength and a weakness of the restaurant. The strength lies in the fact that the dishes based on these noodles are uniformly good. Our welcome celebration started with “rolls”—more accurately fat rice skin wrapped snugly around a center of vermicelli noodles, and choices like duck, mustard greens, apple, and herbs with plum sauce ($6), shrimp, Berkshire pork belly, mint and peanut sauce ($5), and jicama with Chinese sausage, dry shrimp, egg, basil and peanut sauce ($6), and one simply vegetarian (my brother has been a vegetarian for three years now) filled up with mushrooms, jicama, and herbs with a soy dressing ($5). While we scarfed these down—enjoying the fresh, minty herbs and the cool chew of the noodles—somehow the fuller flavors of each of the fillings seemed to get lost in the shuffle. There was a rather uniform taste to these rolls that, while quite good, was disappointing because I wanted to taste the differences between them more than ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in Lower East Side :
+ Mojo   + WD-50   + Schiller's Liquor Bar   + Azul Bistro   + Barrio Chino   + 71 Clinton Fresh Food-- Closed   + Little Giant   + Kuma Inn   + Falai   + The Stanton Social   + The Tides   + Thor   + The Orchard   + El Bocadito-- CLOSED   + Bondi Road   + Rayuela   + Suba   + Bun (boone)   + Sorella   + The Fat Hippo   + Pulino's   

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