A few weeks ago, the only pho place in Manchester turned into a new restaurant, called Bui. Still Vietnamese, but with a modern facelift. Where Chau’s, the old place, looked like your grandmother decorated it, Bui is modern and trendy. Or at least about as trendy as you’ll get in Manchester. Large wooden bookcases, tall branches in oversized vases, sleek tables and chairs and low lighting. I only take exception to the light fixtures that look like rice paddy hats, but whatever.
We went on their second night of being open, not sure what to expect after having Chau’s as a nearby go-to for years. The menu was more hearty Vietnamese than Chau’s — less pho and banh mi, more large dishes. We decided to try a few things–the fancy pho with beef, meatballs, and shrimp, a banh mi sandwich, and one of their crepes.
Our server was the mother of one of the guys who did the decor — a family friend of the owners. It was a village-affair — a young couple had opened the place, their parents and friends and friends’ families were helping out. The hostess was our server’s daughter. Our cooks were the wife and the wife’s mother. It made it all seem so familial and fun — like someone had invited you to a big ol’ get together in their home with the husband stopping by to say hello, pointing out dishes that we gazed at with naked curiosity and lust (oh my God, they all looked so good).
Our pho and sandwich came out first. The sandwich was perfect — the French bread, the meat, the spice…all yummy. The pho was different — similar to Chau’s in that the broth was a little oilier than say, Pho Boston. The regular condiments that come with it were lacking in that we were given bean sprouts, limes, basil and jalapeno, but no sauces and we had to ask for Sriracha. I would have loved some hoisin and hot chili sauce too. The soup was tasty, but it was clear that it wasn’t their specialty.
Enter the crepe. Oh my God, the crepe. It was huge. And fluffy. And stuffed with deliciousness. There’s a veggie version and a non-veggie version, which we got, with pork, chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, jimica, bean sprouts…absolutely amazing. Did I mention it was huge? Then came a complimentary dessert, as it was their opening weekend. One was a chocolate cake, which was, well, chocolate cake. Who doesn’t like that, except freaks? The other was an avocado cake. Yeah, you heard me. It was so tasty, even though you don’t expect your cake to have a greenish tinge to it. I’ll take free dessert any day.
The only weird thing is that since Bui is BYOB, the menu states that there is a charge for things like glasses, opening bottles, corkage, etc. This isn’t something we’re used to at other BYOB places around. However, they did not charge us, and I do hope that they may have removed this from their policies by now. It has the potential of annoying customers or deterring them from coming in and enjoying their fantastic food and welcoming atmosphere.
Two and a half salt shakers as Main Street in Manchester could use something like this!