Berlu Cooks Up One of the Country’s Most Daring Vietnamese Tasting Menus – Portland Monthly


If all goes well, Berlu will reopen Oct. 14 with one of country’s most daring Vietnamese tasting menus.

Gone are the minimal French food poems from Vince Nguyen, a quietly exciting talent who began embracing and exploring his Vietnamese roots for the first time during the pandemic. Judging by a menu sneak peek, this is Vietnamese food as only reimagined in the mind of someone whose bathroom is wallpapered with images of his boundary-pushing hero, David Bowie.

Think streets foods meets fine foods and old-school comforts married to  more modern, conceptual notions, served in a tiny food chamber on SE Belmont. That includes what is surely the world’s first bành bò nướng—a sweet, chewy, honeycomb-textured cake—to be kissed by a hot grill, then toasted until warm and crunchy. Spooned on top: coconut cream and … caviar?

I have two words: Seriously interested.

Like many second-generation kids, Nguyen, who is 35 and grew up in Southern California, says he rejected Vietnamese culture when he was younger. “I felt ashamed of my heritage,” he told me recently. But in one of those “Who am I?” questions that hit people during the shutdown, everything changed. Berlu—one of PoMo‘s Best New Restaurants in 2019—went
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