We went to Ba Vo for lunch today. I had not been there for a few years. The place was remodeled about 6 months ago and it looks terrific. I am not sure if it is owned by the same people, but the food just was not that good.
Two of us ordered bun and the other ordered the Friday special - claypot rice. The bun arrived and it looked great, but we were not provided fish sauce, usually served in a smaller bowl on the side. When I asked the waitress for fish sauce, she informed me that it was already in the bowl. She was correct the watered-down fish sauce that was poured into the Bun comprised about 1/3 the volume of the entire bowl, so it I am guessing that it was about 1.5 cups of fish sauce. This is a ridiculous amount, and the vermicelli was literally swimming in it. I really like fish sauce, but this quantity ruined the dish for me. The grilled pork was not very grilled, and the pieces were too large. The imperial rolls had too much onion flavor. There was one nice touch: Just the right amount of minced jalapeño was added to the bun which gave it a very pleasant heat.
The claypot rice was so greasy that my friend could finish it. Also, it appears that they cook vegetables separate from the rice and plop them on top when they serve it, and I cannot decide if it was a nice presentation or a bastardization of claypot cuisine.
While not expensive, this restaurant has some of the highest lunch prices for Vietnamese food in the neighborhood. The bun was $8.50. I believe it is both less expensive and better at Saigon and Binh Minh Quan.
I have read positive reviews of this restaurant and the menu did have some interesting items, so I may go back, but only when I am bored with the other neighborhood restaurants.
416 13th St (between Broadway and Franklin)