Thursday, March 3, 2016

Beef 7 Ways at Song Huong

Song Huong Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Went with some friends to try Bo 7 Mon (beef 7 ways) at Song Huong, one of the few places that have this menu item. My friend had piqued my interest with it, and after she sent me the ChowTimes blog post on Beef 7 Ways (from 2009!) I was really intrigued, especially by the use of bananas.

Location is at the edge of quiet 'burbs, and for those on transit, there is a number 7 bus right outside! If you are using Google Maps to plot your bus route, pay attention! The stop is called Nanaimo & 1st, not Nanaimo and Graveley as Google Maps might lead you to believe.

The restaurant is big, seating spacing very generous and tables generally large for larger groups. Interesting trellis of plastic plants, and one big TV covering a clock they apparently didn't bother to move after installing the TV. Hmm.

Anyway, on to the food! All we had was Beef 7 Ways. We had two orders split between six persons.
I should have realized that after 7 years since ChowTimes posted about Bo 7 Mon, things would be much different. For one, the price has gone up by $4 to $29.95. To me the portion felt like it was for maybe two people, or three if you want a lighter meal with room for some appetizers and dessert after.

It starts with thinly sliced beef to be cooked in a pot kept hot on a portable stove right at your table. Looks like a lot of beef but it's really a tiny portion since it's thinly sliced, for sharing, and each slice shrinks to a tiny wilted flake of meat once it's boiled.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - raw thinly sliced beef

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - hot pot for cooking raw beef

Curiously, according to the warnings, this stove is not meant for indoor use! However, since we didn't die of carbon monoxide poisoning, I wouldn't take that warning too seriously. I would, however keep an eye on the pot. Once it starts boiling and frothing, that bubbling froth can quickly surge over the edge and spill all over. So stir it once in a while when it starts getting uppity.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - portable stove that is not for indoor use

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - warning on portable stove

Rice paper is provided. Basically this is a more complicated version of StoneGrill where you are charged money to cook your own food handed to you raw. Here you are charged money to roll your own spring rolls.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - rice paper

The veggies for the spring rolls. The most disappointing part here was the distinct lack of bananas. ChowTimes had banana. This has been apparently replaced by cucumber.
Annoying to me was the size of the lettuce (hidden underneath) and the cucumber. Your rolls aren't going to be that big unless you don't want to seal them properly. Could the veggies be of a more convenient size please? If we're to be charged money to cut our own veggies, could we at least get a kitchen knife to go with it?

Also, we found some stems with leaves pretty wilted and starting to brown. Probably a fluke since most of them were green as shown in the picture below.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - veggies and condiments for spring rolls

I am very impatient and I don't like sticky food, so this is my badly wrapped roll.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - my badly wrapped spring roll

You CAN however wrap it beautifully, as demonstrated below. Do not panic when the rice paper gets all sticky and suctions on your plate. It will come off. Don't peel, just roll. And don't put too much in your roll. Veggies are really annoying to roll, but noodles not so bad.
The vermicelli provided, however, tended to clump together into a huge lump. More inconvenient finger food action. Know what you are getting into when you order Bo 7 Mon and make sure you're in the mood for it.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - nicely wrapped roll

Also, remember the sauce provided. Its mostly sweet with some tang/sourness to it. Pretty good. No, it's not soup.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - sauce for spring rolls

Next were these sausages, which I guess count as beef 3 ways. Honestly, they all kinda tasted the same, even the ones with leaves outside. If you can order this on its own, DO IT and forget the Beef 7 Ways novelty. This is tasty! Kind of like satay, but sweeter. Really tender and moist. Seriously good. Pass on using any sauce with these until you've tasted them.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - sausages

Coleslaw/salad with token beef on top. Tasted like the same beef as the sausages, but cold.

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - salad

Although the table was really very tight on space, they insisted on bringing us our two big bowls of congee with an extremely token amount of shredded beef. I could count the number of number of slices in one hand. Also it was the most flavourless congee ever. The porridge with spring onions and stuff that ChowTimes got in 2009 looked way better. This was more like rice with water.
Use some of that sour-sweet soupy-looking sauce on it for flavour (or rather, to get any flavour at all) but not too much since a little goes a long way with that stuff.

It did bug me that they insisted on wedging the congee onto the table, especially as we weren't anywhere close to done with the initial courses, so by the time we got to the congee it was basically cold.

Finally, massive meatballs. One per order of Bo 7 Mon. Looks like a disgusting rotted Alien egg pod, especially with how they cut the top with an "X". Lots of vermicelli in it -- and look! One (1) peanut!

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - meat balls

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - Beef 7 Ways - meatball (cut open)

Overall, I wouldn't get Bo 7 Mon again. Too much work, not interesting at all, except for those sausages, which is probably #70 on the menu, "Bo 3 Mon": Three types of grilled beef rolls (18 rolls -- Satay beef, beef wrapped in la lot [betel] leaves, and beef wrapped in caul fat).
Price is good when split between three people, though.

Like Chinese restaurants, they don't bother checking on you, so don't be shy going up to the counter to ask for forks and extra spoons.

Cash or debit only. 15% mandatory gratuity for parties of 10+. Takeout orders COST EXTRA! (See the fine print at the bottom of the menu).

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - condiments at every table

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - chili at every table

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - menu

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - menu

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - menu

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - menu

2016-Mar-3 Song Huong - menu


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    1. I wonder if that was a typo in the Chow Times review. We haven't been for a while but Song Huong has always had banana BLOSSOMS in their herb plate. We refer to one side of SH as the Luau Room (where you come in) and the other as the diner (because of the naugahyde bench seating). You're right that you can get the bo la lot on it's own (69) but it's also available at other restaurants as a much smaller and less pricey a la carte order. Mr Red Café does a stellar version on Broadway near MacDonald. Thanks for the update on a fave meal we need to try again soon!

    2. Nope. I'm pretty sure its not a typo as Chow Times had a picture of the banana slices. Strangely with thd green skin on. I was really hoping to try it!

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. And thanks for the tip on Mr. Red! I really loved those sausages!