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Review: Bun

Posted by gambit50 on June 4, 2008

Bun, Soho, New York, New York

I wonder if they gave out ANY free food during the midnight to noon hours over Memorial Day weekend, as they had promised for those with reservations. This was the result of management’s own promotion to mark the new round the clock hours of Bun.

Another result was their inability to handle it from the online reservation system to the food and service during this time. Fortunately and unfortunately(not turned away on the plus side, not free for as much as I could order on the other), I went to Bun this past Saturday, anyway. It is new and someone recommended it as good for what it is supposed to be, an upscale version of the Vietnamese joints in Chinatown. Also, the food has some fusion elements.

Walked in around 3pm. Not a single table occupied in the place. The two of us sat in a booth. I liked the layout with the windows open, a nice breeze and a more tasteful version of the minimalist, trendy, cold interior design that many of the other Southeast Asian joints that try to trend it up go with. And I like that kind of look. Some cloth on the booths, a few paintings and more wood than the other places I referred to have. Very nice.

One waiter in the place dressed in black. He came over, dropped off the small, paper menu. One of those deals where you circle what you want and the number of each.

I am not a fan. Boxes are needed for clarity’s sake. He took awhile before bringing over some water.

Basically all the items are $10-12. Some are less (from the rolls) down to $6. Since it is pretty much a small plates place there is not the typical division of apps and entrees. There are dishes of the chef’s doing, as well as bun and pho.

I ordered the two dishes recommended to me and did not sample from the other person’s plates for a variety of reasons. Lamb lollipops and the Bun hangar steak. The logistics of this place are not in good order. Even with no tables and one or two delivery orders called in, the cooks had issue getting things out. Not a huge deal for me at this meal but I could see it being a problem and it would probably worsen if the place gets crowded.

The lamb came first. 3 chops of decent size arranged around some well cooked eggplant.

I am not an expert in the sauces of Vietnam or the rubs but this was a good one. Probably not perfectly authentic if I had to say but very tasty. The usual bit of sugar from this cuisine was there and also a bit of heat but not much. I have to say, I was very pleased considering that after the recommendation I got for this place, I saw a fair amount of negativity within the limited online remarks. Were the chops cooked perfectly? No, but at $12 this can be overlooked. They were not murdered by overcooking and the outside was about right with some black. Inside was more toward medium well but it was surprisingly tender none the less. It did take away some juicyness.

After I saw the waiter telling the B squad cook(the guy who was there at first was eating) that there were 2 more dishes for our table that had not yet been made, he fired them up and they came out a short enough while later.

Hangar steak on top in a bowl of shredded carrot and melon over noodles. Also, some pineapple in there. Fresh basil topped it all and there was a sweet and slightly hot dipping sauce on the side. I was disappointed by the amount of steak. Not enough but no matter which of the multitude of flavors I combined in a single bite, it was good. The basil itself was not the best, not a great amount of fragrance but it was enough to get the taste when combined with the steak and noodles and sauce or the pineapple or whatever. Another thing I liked was that the shredded carrot was not superfine, more in the shape of ground sausage meat.

Well, that was it for my meal there. No drinks or desserts (they looked forgettable) and the water refilling was alright. Much better than the delay on the initial pour. Pretty sure I will be back.

143 Grand St.
Soho, NY 10013


Summary: A more upscale and fusiony version of the Chinatown Viet joints. I have not tried all of the latter but I know about where they stand. Bun is better but also more expensive, so it depends what you are going for. If you are a man of good appetite, 2 plates might not be enough. In this case the bill would add up quite quickly. I would go here for a light meal with the expectation of being hungry a short time later rather than a full meal. Service and organization are a bit out there but they will get it done it seems. Good looking restaurant, very good food, cheap if you don’t eat much. Last visit, 5/31/08. Cost: $30/pp


Food: 83

Vibe: 82

Service: 74

Value: 78

Overall: 79


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