If It’s Monday, This Must Be Vietnam

Williamsburg’s Simple Café offers a Mediterranean-accented menu of sandwiches and other light fare. But not on Mondays. That’s when the café crew takes a break, a Vietnamese-Parisian cook settles in, and the place is temporarily rechristened Bep, or “kitchen” in Vietnamese.

Among the favorites on the short rotating menu are banh mi filled with first-rate grilled or barbecued pork. These sandwiches are delicious and well composed, a deftly balanced mix of meat and vegetables in light, fluffy bread, F.N says.

Soups are less successful, early reports suggest. Bun thang, a Hanoi-style chicken, pork, and egg soup, lacked complexity, DaveCook laments. F.N recommends spiking it with mam tom, a funky and authentic shrimp paste that the kitchen will supply on request.

Jack Barber reports excellent cha gio (spring rolls), but for banh mi he prefers the nearby Nha Toi, which he says packs “more life and flavor across the board.” dhs likes the original with pâté, “better quality and a little more abundant than most.”

Flavors here range beyond Vietnam, including summer rolls with bulgogi and kimchee—unusual and excellent, says dhs. “The cook owner is going for a little David Changdom,” Jack suggests, citing the Momofuku empire builder. “There was an obvious passion for what he was doing,” dhs adds. “That is always a good thing to see.”

Bep [Williamsburg]
At Simple Café
346 Bedford Avenue (at S. Third Street), Brooklyn
718-218-7067

Nha Toi [Williamsburg]
160 Havemeyer Street (near S. Second Street), Brooklyn
718-599-1820

Board Links: Bep Vietnamese pop up restaurant in Williamsburg.
Banh mi in Wmsburg?