Bum Bo No
Big orange fish count: 12
Empty table count: 10
Lunch Special: $5.99 buffet
Vietnam Restaurant on Bryan Street isn't very inviting from the outside, but the sign painted on the dark window says "$5.99 buffet." And the parking around the place is always totally filled up at lunchtime, so I figured it had to be pretty good.
When I got inside, the place was not nearly as packed as I'd expected it would be. Apparently all the people who parked out front were at expensive ass Bangkok City across the street—not at Vietnam Restaurant. But the aquarium was pretty, so I stayed.
I'd love to tell you what I ate, but I can't. Only a couple of dishes were labeled on the buffet, and the one that claimed to be baked chicken was green and vegetable-looking and tasted way more like broccoli to me than chicken. I had something that looked like fried rice. That was good. I had some potato-chips-dunked-in-sauce stuff that was tasty, and then there were some egg rolls filled with mystery meat that I doused in chili sauce and scarfed down.
But my iced tea tasted like soap. So, when I dunked what I thought was a dumpling thing filled with meat or veggies into sriracha and then took a bite and found out that the dumpling thing was filled with bananas, my Vietnam experience started going downhill. I took a sip of my soap tea to get the taste of banana butt out of my mouth. Double blech ensued.
Now's when I figure it can't get any grosser in my mouth (FYI, 10 seconds from this point in the story methinks I'm the worst figurer on the planet), so I try the weirdest thing I saw on the not-labeled buffet: tiny eyeball-looking stuff in gooey syrup. I ate the whole thing, but I did almost vomit on the table. The taste of onions in pear juice wasn't what brought on the gag reflex—it was the texture. The things looked way too much like eyeballs to actually have the texture of balls of eyes.
While I paid $7.57 (one buffet plus one soap tea) for my "This is what the food tastes like in jail, huh?" meal, I helped myself to the Germ-X on the counter (because that's not weird at all) and got the hell out of there.
I say skip Vietnam Restaurant and spend your 10 bucks anywhere else. Spend it on two Thai iced teas across the street at Bangkok City. Or spend it at a strip club buffet. Ooh. Strip club buffet.
Vietnam Restaurant was not cool. It made me burp a fart.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.