Around this time last year, the other chefs of Berlu and I were sitting at a table eating staff meal. It was a cold, rainy day and we had a fully booked service for the evening. As we sat, eating a noodle soup I made, I looked at everyone with a slight disappointment and said, “This is better than anything we’re going to serve tonight.” Not to discredit our offerings as a tasting menu and not to hype my abilities as a potager (one who makes soup). I’m sure I was very proud of the evening’s menu, however, a tasting menu is about control, moderation, balance. Rarely, is something overly hot or overly spicy, as to not overwhelm the next course.
It’s not often that I try to evoke feelings of nostalgia, as the food I grew up eating and find nostalgic is fast, casual, and greasy. I appreciate those days of my youth but prefer to go in a different direction.
One feeling of comfort that is universal comes with temperature. Hot food on a cold night. Cold food on a hot day. I’ve said it before, but a good hot dish on a cold night can be much for success than an excellent cold dish on a cold night. That was evident, more than ever, as we sat eating staff meal on that cold, rainy day.
When I started the Berlu at Home tasting menus, it was to fill the void of having tasty food plated with the intention of making it beautiful. I always knew that there was a limit to how much work I could ask of the diners participating, so understood that as we approached the colder months, the extra work involved with heating the courses would potentially deter those from participating. With that in mind, I thought back to that moment, sitting down for staff meal, eating a hot, delicious bowl of soup. It was soul-satisfying and, although I still have ambitions to return as a tasting menu, I’m grateful for the opportunity to offer you that soul-satisfying feeling now.
Beginning November 6th, we’ll be offering two Vietnamese noodle soups every Friday. One omnivore and one vegan, with an emphasis on exploring the less commonly seen soups of Vietnam.
We’ll make all of our noodles in house and, as always, source local/sustainable proteins and use local/organic produce.
Every week, we’ll offer a different noodle soup, with this Friday’s offerings being Bánh Canh Trảng Bàng and Bánh Canh Nấm.
Bánh Canh Trảng Bàng is a soup that originated in the SE Vietnamese town of Trảng Bàng. It consists of a pork-based broth with slices of slow-cooked pork neck, chả lụa (Vietnamese sausage), herbs, and thick fermented rice noodles.
Bánh Canh Nấm is a vegan, mushroom-based version, where a vegetal stock is flavored with fermented shiitake mushroom. We serve it with char siu style lobster mushroom, greens, herbs, and thick fermented rice noodles.
The soups will be available for purchase a la carte, with the option to add vegetable spring rolls (served with a roasted peanut sauce), a selection of Berlu Bakery pastries, and kimchi from our sous chef Sky’s company, Halmae (she’s now making a white kimchi too!!!). To aid in our efforts to reduce waste, all items will be packed in GO Box reusable containers.
The soup offerings will be available for pick up at 5, 5:30, and 6pm at Berlu and designed to be heated/eaten at home. Instructions will be included, but it will be as simple as heating up the broth and pouring it over the accompaniments (all of which are already cooked or meant to be eaten raw).
Bookings will be available at 12pm the preceding Tuesday and can be made through Tock.
I appreciate all of your support during these trying times. I wish you all well and look forward to being able to see you again with the orange hues of sunset in the sky and lines of cars backed up on Morrison St. trying to get on the I-5N in the background.