When I dial 314-353-0545, a friendly voice answers. I say, “Dewey, this is Jean. Four of us will be there in ten minutes.” That’s all I need to say to know that a round of Tilapia Spring Rolls, the signature dish at Bahn Mi So #1, will be awaiting when I arrive at the Vietnamese restaurant on South Grand.
I’ve been going to the family restaurant for more than a decade. There are photos on the front and backroom walls, featuring members of my family with the Truongs. We all looked a lot younger.
The Truongs know what I will order before I ask: #12, Bun Ga Xao, a noodle dish with sautéed beef and onions; or #A3, Salmon Curry; or #28, Banh Mi, an exquisite pork meatball sandwich.
The family has been dishing up traditional Vietnamese favorites at their South Grand location for twenty-some years. During that time, the small, store-front restaurant has acquired a great many fans and considerable public recognition for their fresh, authentic and consistently fine cuisine.
Thomas Truong, a former French professor in his native land, waits tables and visits with customers, as does his son, Dewey. Lynn Truong will invariably be in the kitchen personally seeing that everything served meets her high standards. None of her recipes are written down; all are committed to memory from years of repetition. I never leave without purchasing a bottle of their nuoc cham, an addictive sauce that I insert into my homemade salad dressings and use on vegetable and fish dishes.
Since I have a particular passion for the Bun Ga Xao, I made some after coming upon the Truong’s recipe in the River Front Times. It’s made with sauteed beef and onion and served with vermicelli, lettuce, cucumber, crushed peanuts, and their house-made sauce, that’s available for purchase.
But making Pho Bo is more complex. I once listened as Dewey explained the steps that go into making the Pho Bo, a classic Vietnamese noodle soup. I realized it required far more effort than I would ever give to preparing a dish—though my daughter makes a turkey pho that is excellent. The Truong family puts lots of skill and love into their food and it shows in every meal that leaves the kitchen.
Banh Mi So, 4017 S. Grand. Open: Tue-Sun, 11a -10p. Dewey Truong, an IT guy by profession, and his father, Thomas, a former French professor in Vietnam, staff the dining room. Mama, Chef Lynn Truong, is occupied in the kitchen.