Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

BÚN-KER, 46-63 Metropolitan Avenue (between Woodward Avenue and Onderdonk Avenue), Ridgewood, Queens As food bloggers, we always dream of discovering some place new to share with the world. With the media being what it is, it’s hard to be the first to write about and gush over an undiscovered restaurant. The most successful are those who hang out in the far reaches of Queens and Brooklyn. Or in the case of Bún-ker, somewhere right in between.

I certainly can not take credit for discovering this place (there are lines out the door every night and it’s been covered by every NY food publication at this point), but I sure wish I could. I first read about it (like most people) in NY Magazine’s Cheap Eats issue. It was the first time I had even heard of a destination in Ridgewood, Queens. Since then, it seems everybody and their mother has taken the L train to Bushwick and then walked through a post-industrial area just to try this highly praised Vietnamese food.

This tiny shack is easy to miss, but inside is a bright and lively scene. A few young Vietnamese guys tend to both the tables, the cooking, and watching the football game on television. Everybody we encountered was so pleasant and having a great time. It was infectious. And that was before we even received any food.

The food is the work of Jimmy Tu, who cooked at Eleven Madison Park, before opening this much more casual spot. And it was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. Every single dish was spot-on with light and complex flavors coming from impeccable ingredients and a bundle of talent and technique.

Traditional Banh Xeo at BÚN-KER

I had a really difficult time choosing just one dish for my dish of the week, but it has to be the appetizer that started off the meal. The traditional banh xeo lies in that delicious world between a crepe and an omlette. The rice flour orb is seared in a wok until crunchy and crisp yet somehow maintains an irresistible creamy eggy middle. It’s also stuffed with shrimp, bacon, and bean sprouts and features plenty of fresh herbs for wrapping and a sweet vinergary sauce for dipping.

I could continue to pontificate about the amazing dishes: coconut-braised short ribs, the fresh and herbal Cha Ca La Vong (fried flounder with noodles), and the Ca Ri Ga (curried chicken with notes of coconut, lemongrass, and chili). Everything was delicious and it makes me hungry to make the trip again.

Aside from my international travels, this might be the best trip I’ve ever made in my life. Not the trip itself – that was certainly not special. But the destination was so exciting. You know the old saying about it being the journey, not the destination. In the case of Bún-ker, it’s most certainly the destination.

BÚN-KER VIETNAMESE
46-63 Metropolita Avenue (between Woodward Avenue and Onderdonk Avenue,
Ridgewood, Queens
(718) 386-4282
bunkervietnamese.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

One Response to DISH OF THE WEEK: Traditional Banh Xeo at BÚN-KER VIETNAMESE

  1. Mary Lou Waltz says:

    I wish I could be there, Brian, to watch you eat this. I don’t understand what you do with all of those bean sprouts. One of your food tours for out-of-towners could include a place such as this! I would enjoy that.

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