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Inside The New Location Of ‘Mr. Red Cafe’ – Vietnamese Eatery Opens This Sunday

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I checked out the new location of Mr. Red Cafe yesterday as it was getting ready for its soft launch this Sunday. The 1,400 sqft room at 2680 West Broadway is reminiscent of the original at 2234 E. Hastings Street, though it feels bigger with 30 seats. The kitchen is considerably larger, allowing for commissary duties as well as an expanded menu that will include special Sunday family-style feasts and vegetarian dishes. Similar to their East Hastings spot, there is no liquor license.

Cheap, cheerful, and close to the house, Mr. Red Cafe has been a favourite in my family since it opened a couple of years ago in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood. The little restaurant specializes in northern Vietnamese cuisine and has been featured in these pages on numerous occasions. It was first revealed to me in a Ken Tsui Never Heard Of It story, which stuck in my mind on account of Ken’s descriptions of the eatery’s approach to hospitality, not to mention their bone broths.

As before, owners Rose & Hong Nguyen will split the front and back of house respectively. They run reliably tight ships and it’s obvious that they have a genuine passion for their home region’s (Hanoi) cuisine. Their recipes and traditions are heirlooms, and the pride with which they’re shared is pretty infectious. One of the soup broths – handed down from Rose’s mother – has been perfected over decades. Personally,  I’m a sucker for their restorative pho ga, which is pictured above the gallery below)…

That Mr. Red is imminent is likely to be music to the ears of those who live and work on the West Side and Kitsilano. It’s been a long time coming. Rose and Hong have been working on the project for a year. They even travelled back to Vietnam for inspiration and materials (dig that bamboo and grass thatch). “I’ve been joking about this being like a year long pregnancy,” Rose laughed as she showed me around the space. “I’m very ready to have this baby!” Opening hours will be 11am to 9pm, 7 days a week. Take a look inside the unfinished room…

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