Just because we were in town to eat prodigious amounts of pork at All-Star Cochon didn’t preclude us from having lunch mere hours before the Super Bowl of pork. We drove to Vegas from L.A., bypassed hotel check-in and proceeded directly to Bosa 1, the sister restaurant to Little Saigon’s Dat Thanh, located in Las Vegas’ Mountain View Plaza on Chinatown’s western fringe.
Owners Toan Nguyen and wife Mary hail from Vung Tau, on the southern Vietnamese coast. Son Hoi helps head up Dat Thanh, and daughter Vanessa has led their bamboo-accented Las Vegas venture over the past three years.
Firm pork sausage is marinated and grilled until smoky and rolled in rice paper with cilantro, mint, cucumber, crisp iceberg lettuce, crispy wonton strips, pickled carrot and daikon. The family’s proprietary dipping sauce is a rich, orange slurry that contains 14 ingredients, most of them top secret. Hoi Nguyen shared just four in Orange County: peanut butter, garlic, fish sauce and ground chicken.
Bosa 1’s bun rieu co-stars vermicelli, tofu, tomatoes, shrimp and clumps of egg and crab in a homemade chicken broth that builds in peppery intensity. For texture’s sake, it arrived topped with crispy shallots, scallions and cilantro. Ask for mom tam – fermented shrimp paste – but be warned. According to Moses, the manager, “Don’t smell it, but the taste is amazing.” The salty, pungent grey-brown paste definitely upped the savory quotient.
Stan’s order of Com Tam Tau Hu Ky, Tom, Bi, Cha va Lap Xuong ($10.50) featuring a plateful of fluffy rice topped with a caramelized BBQ shrimp skewer, shreds of pork leg and gelatinous skin dusted with gritty rice powder, sweet cuts of caramelized Chinese sausage, a wedge of egg patty studded with pork and mushrooms and a peppery shrimp cake studded with water chestnuts and wrapped in thin sheets of bean curd that they fried to a crisp.
If you stick to Bosa 1’s combination plates, it’s fairly easy to cover a wide swath of their menu, which is more about variations than variety. Having eaten at both of the Nguyen family’s restaurants, it’s clear that they’re committed to quality, and quality control, and would gladly return to either location.