Monday, February 13, 2017

Mr. Red Cafe

Whether it's on Hastings Street or on West Broadway, Mr. Red Cafe, a restaurant that has been on Buddha Boy's to-eat list for buddha-knows how long, is not really in our neighborhood nor in an area where we would visit often.  We've driven by its Hastings location numerous times but those visits were either for Yan's Bakery or for Gourmet Warehouse.

But, one day, I dragged BabyE along to its Hastings outlet for lunch just so I could satisfy my husband's wish...

On its FB page, Mr. Red Cafe presented its first ever buffet to commemorate the side-by-side celebration of Family Day and Valentine's Day.  The buffet, held at its West Broadway location, ran all day on February 13th from 11am-9pm and half day on February 14th from 5pm-9pm.  The cost was $28CAD (plus tax) per person and children under five dine free.  Advance purchase of tickets were encouraged, but not strictly enforced.

Yes, this was news from heaven for Buddha Boy... 

We decided to visit right at its opening time on February 13th.  We arrived at about 10:45am and we could see, through the window, that the restaurant was trying to set up for the event.  Not wanting to intrude, we attempted to wait in the car for the restaurant to open at 11am.  But, approximately five minutes later, we saw an Asian couple entered the restaurant and sat down at a large table.  Buddha Boy and I, along with BabyE, quickly followed to secure our seats.  We were lucky to be seated at the best spot in the house, right by the starting point of the buffet line.

By 11:15am, the restaurant was full.

After we were seated, we were given a buffet menu.  We overheard that a few of the homey items were not listed on the printout.  (FYI, most of the buffet items can be order from its everyday menu on regular days.)

Though we were seated just before 11am, the buffet did not start until 11:45am.  The kitchen really scrambled to get things ready.  That being said, despite how busy they were trying to start the event, each and every single staff was courteous with a positive attitude.  Not only they constantly apologized for the long wait, tea and water were replenished regularly.  Even Rose, the owner-wife, who was running back and forth between the front and the kitchen, was friendly and approachable.

After all the rush, the owners, Rose and Hong Duong, greeted the room and shared a few words before starting the buffet.  Being a buddhist/taoist myself, I give compliments to Rose.  With a restaurant full of people staring and waiting for the food, Rose still took the time to pay respect to her religion.  I saw her kneeling in front of her religious god at the front entrance just before kicking off the event.

The buffet focused on the owners' hometown flavors of northern Vietnam.  Since we're not experts in Vietnamese cuisine, it's really inappropriate for us to comment on how classic or how authentic these dishes were.  After all, our exposures to Vietnamese food, then and now, were only from local eateries.  Therefore, food wise, we have decided to only post photos of our plates.


Buddha Boy and I really enjoyed the buffet.  Despite the long wait (trust me, it was worth the wait), the food was stunning.  From soups to meats to desserts, we enjoyed every single item on its buffet table.  Flavors were bold with dimensions.  We truly appreciate all the hard work of making everything in-house.

It's not easy to organize a public event, especially with such a limited space.  There were some organizing hiccups and here are some suggestions to the owners: 

(Rose and Hong Duong, please do not feel offended as I just wanted to share some points from experience as an event planner.)

(1) Layout
Instead of having the L-shaped buffet table along the front window, have it along the long-side wall.  This will allow efficiency to/from the kitchen and less interruptions to diners when creating the buffet line (as the line can go into the back hallway).

(2) Buffet Time Limit
While the food was delicious and amazing, it was a bit hard to truly enjoy the buffet with only one hour to eat.  The one-hour time limit allowed zero breathing room in-between the plates for diners to appreciate all the hard work and to savor all the delightful elements presented in the dishes.  A common buffet time limit of 1.5hr to 2hr is recommended.

(3)  Seating Times & Ticket Sales
Due to the limited space, instead of first-come-first-served, offering seating times will avoid long waits and rushed services.  For instance, with each 1.5hr time limit, schedule a two-hour seating time.  If the event runs from 11am-9pm, five seating allotments (i.e. 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm and 7pm) can be offered as booking options as a perk to those interested in purchasing tickets in advance.  This alternative would only work best if advance ticket purchase is strongly enforced at only one location, not two.  This will also create a better flow and efficiency between the front and the kitchen.  Moreover, this will also help with forecasting.

We look forward to Mr. Red Cafe's next buffet event.  Meanwhile, Buddha Boy and I will be returning in the near future to try out its day-to-day menu.

(Thank you Rose and Hong Duong, and all the staff of Mr, Red Cafe, for giving us the opportunity to sample some of your hometown flavors.  We truly appreciate all the hard work.  Good job team!)
Mr. Red Cafe
2680 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6K 2G3


  1. Have you ever tried the Rio restaurant? It is a Brazilian food restaurant, I just ate the desserts there, I do not know whether the meals are good or not. But as for the desserts, I suggest a Pudim de Leite and a Brigadeirão to genuine Brazilian taste. Here their page

    1. Thank you for your suggestion. Buddha Boy has been there with his colleagues but I have yet to try. We will try in the near future. Thanks once again.

  2. I will definitely come check this place again with some other awesome friends of mine! It's one of best Chicago event venues for having a good time with a joyous feeling. And it fascinates me with its great style and vibrant atmosphere.

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