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Bun-Ker Vietnamese

Pia Mileaf-Patel

$25 a person

            Yesterday, I took my newly issued driver's license (so exciting!!!), and after a lot of convincing and promising and listing to my parents how responsible I am, I drove the car solo from Manhattan to Ridgewood. That means I went over the Williamsburg bridge. In a car by myself. Driving the car. Honestly a little terrifying considering you aren't allowed to even go on that bridge until you have a full license!

            What could convince me to take my first licensed driving trip over the Williamsburg Bridge? The promise of amazing Vietnamese food, of course! I picked up my friend Maya, a friend who would go to the end of the earth for good Vietnamese food, and we drove down Metropolitan Ave past a warehouse converted into a party space that looked like it jumped out of the set of Girls, some barbed wire fences, and lots of parking spaces just a hair too small to get into.

            After about a mile or so of warehouses we spotted Bun-Ker, a restaurant that seats about eighteen. There was a waitlist. Maya pointed out that it must be the best food in the world if this many people are waiting for a table at a place you can’t get to by subway—and on a Sunday night, too! In short, it was.

            I got the idea to go to Bun-Ker Vietnamese from my parents’ friends, who have never recommended a bad restaurant. They have introduced us to some of our favorite places, so if they say to drive for Vietnamese food, I’ll do it. Plus, in all honesty, I loved the excuse to use the car! You don’t get a lot of chances to drive as a teen in the City.

            And the food at the end of the bridge (light at the end of the tunnel) was truly glorious. We started with a Vietnamese crepe, Traditional Banh Xbo, which is crisp and chewy and speckled with shrimp and bacon. You stuff it with herbs, wrap it in lettuce, and then dip it in sauce. Every bite is perfect. It’s the kind of thing I’d never be able to make. I love that in a dish.

            Then, we had grilled pork loin on top of rice with a fried egg, Suon Nuong Xa, because a fried egg always makes food better! Finally, we had a plate of sautéed greens to end all other plates of sautéed greens. Really.

            If you’re jonesing to try out a new driver;s license, or can perhaps convince your parents to let you use their Uber account, make your next stop Bun-Ker. Trust me, it’s the best.