It's always hard getting up early for a proper breakfast on the weekends, but we pulled it together and made it out to Mission Cantina to try the Vietnamese breakfast served from 9-11:30 am. I was never a big fan of Bowien's fusion cuisine, and I wasn't too impressed by the Mexican fare at Cantina, so my expectations were pretty low, but the Vietnamese breakfast far exceeded them. I've posted on my blog if you want the full recap:
Everyone gets a complimentary plate of shrimp crackers and a fried egg seasoned with maggi sauce to start. It sounds all very simple, but the maggi sauce was key in giving the egg this great savory, soy flavor that made all the difference.
The real standout here is the duck porridge. Sometimes porridge rice can be extremely bland, a blank slate that relies on the accompanying seasonings to dress it up, but the version here comes fully loaded with flavor, ensuring a nice and salty, savory base. The key here is to swirl everything around so that you get a little bit of the egg yolk and the heavenly bits of duck meat all in the same bite. It also comes with a side of fried shrimp toast, a golden, crispy slab of bread covered in this insanely delicious briney and salty spread. I am going back again just for this porridge and toast.
I also liked the chicken pho, a dish that showed a little more restraint in flavor. It featured a broth that was very clean and light, with some hints of lime and cilantro. It’s different from the more robust, more infused beef-based broths that you might get at a traditional Vietnamese restaurant, but I personally liked this understated version. They also use wider rice noodles in their Hanoi-style pho, which I found interesting only because I’ve never seen this type ever used before. The broken rice was also very good, especially the lemongrass sausages that came with it--chunky, juicy, delicious.
In short, the Vietnamese breakfast is worth checking out, and it adds some much needed variety to the eggs and oatmeal that seem to be part of our daily breakfast rotation. And it's an easier way to get a table at Bowien's restaurants, which tend to involve long waits (ours was only a few minutes for the 3 of us)