Apparently more than one person is on an Oakland Vietnamese tear right now...
Tired, hot and cranky from fighting for mangoes at the produce stands in Oakland Chinatown, we were looking around for a fortifying meal. Intrigued by the attractive display of snacks in styrofoam trays laid out in front, we ducked into Ba Le for a quick bowl of noodles.
Bun bo hue was a steaming bowl of thick rice noodles with chunks of pig trotter, brisket and a generous helping of pork blood. Under the chili oil, the broth was fragrant with lemongrass, onions and shrimp paste. The accompanying herbs, beansprouts and shredded cabbage added a nice freshness. We also ordered another noodle dish whose name I didn't catch, but it was two types of noodles in a light beef broth. A couple of shrimps and slices of beef on top of thin rice vermicelli and thick chewy egg noodles made a delightful combination in clear broth. The dish also came with a fried shrimp cake and a saucer of chopped garlic. We were not sure what to do with these, but we ate it with pleasure anyway.
On the way out we picked up a couple trays of snacks. One had three different kinds of fresh spring roll- BBQ pork, sausage and shrimp. The other was a kind of fresh rice sheet wrapped around a chopped pork filling. We also picked out a cup of dates, seaweed and barley in syrup. There were so many delicious-looking items that we had a hard time deciding. We didn't get to the multi-colored desserts or the sausage-like things stacked in the refrigerator so we'll be back.
Ba Le French Coffee Shop
812 Franklin St. (betw 8th & 9th)
Open 7 days 7am-6pm