While lots of New Yorkers are complaining about the colder weather, some of us are happy without the sticky, hot humidity and not having to take three showers a day. Noodles are seasonless, but having a steaming bowl of hot soup filled with noodles is best when it’s a little bit chilly outside; BòCàPhê is our pick for hot, delicious Vietnamese Pho.
BòCàPhê is located in Nolita on Lafayette with so many other stand-out restaurants and gives them a run for their money, offering healthy Vietnamese dishes with a French twist thanks to the influence by Parisian owner and Executive Chef Raphael Louzon. In partnership with Jeremie Mouyal, the pair opened BòCàPhê in 2015, celebrating the third anniversary of their restaurant earlier this month.
Growing up, Chef Raphael Louzon worked with his family who own multiple Vietnamese restaurants in Paris including the immensely popular Hanoi Cà Phê, and the newly opened Ca Phe Hanoi in Tel Aviv. To further perfect his craft, Chef Louzon traveled to Vietnam to work under Chef and Kung Foo master Hando Youssouf at La Petit Hanoi, practicing Kung Foo by day and mastering the art of Vietnamese cooking by night. Chef Louzon moved to New York in 2011 and worked at local restaurants, including The Butcher’s Daughter, before opening BòCàPhê.
In keeping with the theme of a healthy meal, we started off with some fresh pressed juices and smoothies. The Bò Sunny is a like a refreshing lemonade with pineapple and orange with a bit of zing from ginger and cayenne. The Pink smoothie was lovely and refreshing made with pineapple, strawberry, watermelon, coconut water – reminding us of warmer summer days.
If you really want to boost your system, try one of their health shots: No. 1 with honey, lemon, and ginger, and No. 2 with fresh ginger. For a pick-me-up, you can’t go wrong with a Vietnamese black drip coffee with condensed milk.
To mellow out, perhaps choose a French wine from their wine list or try one of their specialty craft cocktails like the Ho Chi Mint with house sake, ginger, lemon juice, pineapple and mint, the Belle Piscine with rose wine, pink grapefruit and fresh strawberries, the Swimming Pool with white wine, sparking wine and hibiscus, or the Back to Black with sake, lemon, honey, lavender and black charcoal.
Definitely start you meal off with some appetizers to share. You can’t go with with any of the crispy spring rolls, though we highly recommend the Chick’ginger, or the Bao Buns. The Bao Buns are a bit trickier to share, but you’ll want to try all their different varieties. There is the Miso Eggplant and the Shiitake and Cheese vegetarian options, and Chicken Satay and Caramelized Beef for meat options.
Of course we couldn’t go to a Vietnamese restaurant without trying the Pho. We went with the Classic Pho made with traditional Vietnamese noodles and grass-fed beef. The broth was delicious! Flavorful but not overpowering, so you can guzzle down the soup without feeling excessively full. We added the extra dumplings as well, but in hindsight would have traded them for another bao bun.
In addition to the classic, there is a Chicken Pho, as well as a Vegan Pho with vegetables and vegan broth.
Another specialty dish of BòCàPhê is their Bo Bún vermicelli noodle bowl. The rice noodles lay at the base of the bowl with layers of fresh veggies and lettuce, a sprinkling of peanuts, with the dressing off to the side for you to stir in as you please, and your choice of protein.
While I was tempted to try something a little different such as the Salmon & Avocado, I was steered to get the Beef & Lemongrass which was ultimately the right choice. The beef was well done but tender and very flavorful, which was the best pairing to go with all of the fresh veggies and rice noodles.
For other entree options, burger lovers should check out the Bao Burger which boasts a grass-fed beef patty with Bibb lettuce and green pepper sauce served on a steamed bun served with a side of taro fries. Recommended to get the add-on shiitake and truffle sauce – #treatyoself.
If you find yourself tired in the middle of the day shopping in Soho, fortunately for you breakfast is served all day. Choose from supremely healthy options like the Acai Bowl with fresh fruits, homemade granola and chia seeds, or an anything-but-basic Avocado Toast with cranberries and an added crunch of pecans. To really make the most of breakfast, opt for the Egg Banh Mi, an omelette served on a baguette with Vache qui rit cheese, pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro served with a side salad.
Brunch is also served along with a bottomless mimosa special and a different take on the everyday Eggs Benedict, like the Bao Benedict served on a steam bao bun with fried potatoes and papata salad, with the option of smoked salmon or turkey bacon.
If all that doesn’t entice you enough, you can brag that you’ve dined like a celebrity, since BòCàPhê has had a number of VIP diners, including Jared Leto, Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively, and Dakota Johnson. Do as the celebs do and enjoy some delicious Pho.
Photos via BòCàPhê and by Yvonne Lee