What does vegan bún riêu taste like?
First there's the fragrance--it should be grassy from the mint leaves, cilantro, and stewed tomatoes in the broth. The broth itself is light, savory, and tangy already, but all that gets amplified with a squeeze of lemon and dashes of chili garlic oil and soy sauce.
Next is the "riêu." It's essentially unpressed tofu that is somewhat bean-like and bland before soaking in all the surrounding flavors. For this version, it's mostly there for texture. The fried tofu gives the dish yet another texture and way to soak in the broth.
Overall, it's a light noodle soup compared to others in the Vietnamese tradition but I'd highlight the herby aroma and tangy broth as reasons to try it.
Also: this spot is basically a deli counter with a single long table, so not a fancy wine and dine situation here.
I hit the jackpot this morning when a fresh batch of these steamed tapioca mung bean and taro layer cake arrived at my favorite vegan bún riêu spot. These are sweet, but not as sickeningly sweet as this old couple sitting across from me.
Mom. Dad. Omgggawdddd 😒