Vancouver is a goldmine of ethnic food – especially Asian. I tend to shy away from the authentic spots – i.e. places where I’ll get blank stares and confused looks when I inquire about gluten, and where I can’t decipher the menu enough to figure out if the ubiquitous soy sauce is present. And then of course there is the sadly still ever-present MSG. There are often signs with the promise of no MSG in big red letters. But my MSG-induced headache doesn’t lie.
I do enjoy Asian food though – I’ve had authentic Chinese at friends’ homes, and like to dabble in some Asian fusion dishes when cooking. I’m also looking forward to trying some upscale fusion restaurants like Bao Bei. But my experience with a lot of the smaller places has been disheartening, given my dietary restrictions/concerns.
Such was my experience at Joyeaux. I’m a sucker for French food, so of course I was lured in by the pretty French name of this Vietnamese bistro (misspelled, funnily enough – the owner realized the error too late, but then decided it was lucky). That and I may be subconsciously under Anthony Bourdain’s influence as I’m somewhat addicted to No Reservations and he’s a big fan of all things Vietnam. Then there’s the promising all natural ingredients sign by the front entrance. And as if all that wasn’t enough, a friend who’s sensitive to MSG has eaten there symptom-free. And really, I just like trying new foods and cuisines.
The interior is cute – the restaurant is in a character building with large arches. There are pictures of all the dishes by the counter (probably not a good sign in terms of authenticity?). I got the expected blank stares when asking about gluten. I took a chance and ordered the lemongrass chicken with rice.
The food came quickly and the chicken was tasty – I quite liked the lemongrass flavor. The side salad was refreshing. Good value at $7.99.
Unfortunately, the MSG symptoms appeared before I was even done the dish. In my case, my mouth felt awfully dry. And the massive headache appeared shortly after leaving the restaurant. What a let down.
Id still like to try some great Vietnamese, and am currently eyeing Kin Resto Bar on Robson. Any recommendations or advice on Vietnamese food?