Bun Mam Soc Trang: Vietnamese Done Right
I love the fact that Oakland has a fairly large Vietnamese community because I enjoy eating Vietnamese food. The cuisine varies so much, I usually can find something on the menu that will hit the spot. I recently was introduced to Bun Mam Soc Trang, a Vietnamese restaurant two miles south of me in East Oakland. I have returned twice this past week. It’s a little dive, but it’s clean. The hostess/waitress is extremely pleasant and the food is authentic and comforting.
I go for the #12, Bun Bo Hue or spicy noodle beef soup. Unlike other places for Bun Bo Hue, they give you condiments of chili and fermented bean paste. It may be an acquired taste for an adventurous palette, but for me adding these two favors brings the soup to a new level.
On one visit, my sister ordered #14, Bun Thit Nuong, Cha Gio, or grilled pork with egg rolls, and vermicelli noodles. This is a dish I like to order and when hers came out, I wish it were mine. I was able to try it and thought it was fresh and tasty. This establishment knows how to grill meat really well.
After seeing the fried egg rolls on my sister’s main dish, my friend and I decided to order one as an appetizer after the fact. The way to eat them correctly is to take a piece of green leaf lettuce, place an egg roll on top with some pickled vegetables, wrap it, and dip it in fish sauce. These did not disappoint.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee is made with espresso and sweetened condensed milk. I could not remember the last time I had a Vietnamese Iced Coffee and decided to have one here. It was the weekend after all.
And because it was a weekend, we got free dessert. I’m not very familiar with Asian desserts, but it was some type of tapioca and pumpkin pudding. I thought it was a nice treat and ended the meal on a high note.
Bun Mam Soc Trang (BMST) might be the only Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland that maintains a yelp rating of 4.5. Between food and service, I can vouch for the high rating. I should probably note that BMST is not in the safest area of East Oakland. I am quite comfortable going there in the daytime. The restaurant closes at 4pm and then offers take out from 4-6pm which I think is a smart and safe strategy.