A few weeks ago I noticed a new restaurant opening up next to Les Givral’s on Milam. The sign outstide said “Red Pier Asian Bistro”. I kept waiting and waiting for reviews to pop up on Yelp so I could learn more about the place, but there still aren’t any. Yelpers be slackin’.
Last night we were looking for a cheap dinner before going out with friends. We decided to grab some banh mi from Les Givral’s, but then we remembered Red Pier. We’d take a quick peek inside and see if it was worth trying.
When I pushed the door open I was instantly dazzled. The long wall on the left is a fun piece of art. White ropes hang at different angles, but the effect is not at all like Sushi Raku. Less burlesque and more zen, complete with a rock garden along the bottom.
But it was the incredible smells from the open-kitchen that enticed us to stay. There would be no banh mi in our lives that night.
Instead there would be Bun Bo Hue Chay, a nearly vegetarian version (chicken broth) of the classic spicy soup from Hue. The broth is lighter than what I’m used to, due in part to the fact that the “meat” in the soup was all soy-based. This was absolutely positively damn good stuff. The herbs, bean sprouts and jalapenos were all fresh, fragrant and delicious. I added them to my bowl along with a squeeze of lime and some sriracha. While eating I broke into a sweat, enjoying the slow burn, fantastic flavors and different textures.
Lucas ordered a rice plate with BBQ Pork, Egg Cake & Fried Egg. One thing I really like about Red Pier is that they seem to value beauty. The restaurant is tastefully decorated and they also present their food with consideration. On top of that they follow through with some great flavors, because that BBQ Pork was some of the best I’ve tasted in awhile. Nice and crispy on the outside with just a hint of sweetness, I retracted my previously insane notion. For a moment that Bun Bo Hue Chay made me think being a vegetarian wouldn’t be all that bad. Yes. It. Would.
Everything else on his plate was delicious – the egg cake was simply good (I’m partial to Huynh’s), the fried egg was everything it should be and the vegetables on the side were nice and crisp. I was surprisingly impressed by the rice. Silly me, I know. I’m a fucking rice fiend. This was perfectly cooked stuff; nice and sticky, not even remotely overdone. The likes of which you typically find at a Korean restaurant. Okay, maybe not quite that good.
We had a chance to talk to the bartender and he told us that Red Pier is a sister restaurant to Les Givral’s. That’s a pretty exciting tidbit! Les Givral’s has been around forever and I love their banh mi. So much that I’ve never tried anything else there, but I”m over-joyed to try more dishes from this amazing family.
I believe that Red Pier will fill a hole in Midtown Vietnamese cuisine. It seems a bit more upscale than the other restaurants, but prices don’t reflect this (my soup was $5.95 and the BBQ Pork was $6.95). The menu is both modern and traditional with something for everyone plus they serve beer and wine. Happy Hour is $1.00 off drinks with half-price appetizers.
We will certainly be back soon!