Years ago I used to work as a chef for a wonderful Vietnamese woman at a Southwestern-style cafe. She also had a Vietnamese restaurant, and sometimes we’d go there for treats that weren’t on the regular menu.
Among my favorites were the fresh rolls called bo bia. Like the more familiar goi cuon, they were wrapped in soft rice paper and contained a lot of crispy vegetables. But the principal ingredients were different. Bo bia contain the sweet Chinese sausage called lap cheung, strips of raw jicama and small dried shrimp.
I was jazzed to discover bo bia at the Buford Highway branch of Nam Phuong (here’s my review of the original in Norcross). They did not disappoint. The dull crunch of the jicama, the oils of the sausage and the umami funk of the dried shrimp combine into something quite memorable with each bite.
I also tried the soup called my quang – a turmeric-yellow chicken broth holding wide rice noodles, chewy pieces of stewing hen, shrimp, Vietnamese-style bologna, quail eggs and black sesame rice crackers. The garnish plate contained cabbage and banana blossom along with herbs, hot peppers and lime. It was a ton of food; I would have preferred more broth and a bit less stuff, which just registered as a pile up of ingredients. It isn’t as good as the my quang down the street.
But that bo bia…
– by John Kessler for the Food & More blog