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Ba Bay, Modern Vietnamese near Eastern Market - Owners Khoa and Denise Nguyen on 6th and Pennylvania SE - Closed

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Went to Locanda tonight for the first time.

i have heard that they have closed. have they?

PoP reports of location-incarnation as Ba Bay Vietnamese restaurant.

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Finally, a new restaurant opening on the Hill worth posting about. I had a truly delightful dinner at the bar here tonight with leleboo and her +1. The chili glazed wings that TS mentioned in his "First Bite" review were crispy and sticky with their hot and sweet glaze, perfectly balanced with generous lashings of fresh, fat scallion slices. You'll need a hosedown afterward, but they're worth it. Bok choy with oyster sauce and crispy shallots brought out the succulent texture and flavor of this vegetable, a stellar but simple presentation, with the shallots balancing the softness of the cabbage.The autumn roll with egg, jicama, Chinese sausage, and a peanut-hoisin dipping sauce was a model of its type, with a crisp tempura-like crust that gave a perfect textural counterpoise to the delicate vegetables and sausage within. (How often have such Asian-inspired roll dishes failed to live up to this simple standard, even in otherwise excellent restaurants?). The purple cabbage with soy vinaigrette, peanuts, and cilantro was somewhat overwhelmed with soy, but this was only bothersome because everything else in the dish--the bladework, the balance of cabbage and herbs, the freshness of the ingredients, the contrast of textures--was spot on. I took nibbles of the short ribs with hoisin, scallion, and peanuts, and of the kabocha squash and coconut milk--both delightful and upholding the high standard of the previous dishes.

The wine list is small but extremely well chosen, with a good selection of wines--Mosel Riesling, Loire Chenin Blanc--that go well with this type of cuisine. The Nebbiolo from Langhe Rosso I had (8 bucks for a generous pour) was excellent, and the Sazerac I requested with Overholt Rye was worthy of the best bars in town. (Sazeracs go very well with those chili glazed wings, BTW.)

Prices for everything were reasonable, a refreshing change from the semi-chains that have begun to dominate the 8th Street strip with food usually not as good. The concept is generally small plates here, but even the most substantial portions, like the short ribs, were under $20.

The location, in the former Locanda space, has been beautifully adapted. Parking can be a problem, perhaps, but the Eastern Market metro is a half a block away. No excuse not to explore this great addition to DC dining posthaste.

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I had the bah min a few weeks ago and it was great. The bread is some of the best I have had in a long time. I had a conversation with a chef today about how much good bread adds to a restaurant's cost and it's worth every penny at Ba Bay. The pate was excellent as were the pickled vegetables. I don't agree with Seitsma's review-my sandwich had just the right amount of mayo. If you're on the Hill for lunch skip everything else.

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Tried Ba Bay for lunch on Thursday while on vacation. My +1 has the banh mi and I tasted it - totally agree totally about the bread used in the banh mi. Just perfect. I had the noodle dish in a pork/shrimp broth. So, so yummy. I could really taste the shrimp in the broth. The portion was huge, and I suggested to the staff that they might consider a half portion, especially at lunch. I was in a blissful noodle coma afterward. The one miss was the house made pate. It was bland, and the pear (?) mustard was not a good match. But with so much else to explore on the menu, I am eager to return.

The staff was simply lovely. Maybe because the place wasn't crowded, or maybe it was the happy holiday vibe, but they couldn't have been more enthusiastic about the food, more helpful or more gracious. I hope this place succeeds!

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I've been to Ba Bay three times now and it's improved each time. I am so pleased to have them within walking distance.

I've had to work all weekend, spending today editing madly, to the point that my eyes were burning and watery. I didn't want to do anything fancy -- this is the problem with having one's birthday so closely on the heels of the holidays, as many of my Capricorn compatriots can attest -- I just wanted a nice dinner with some friends. Well, I got it, and then some.

The chili glazed wings, as Banco mentioned, are just silly-good. I would happily go to the bar of a weeknight, get these and a vegetable side, and be happy with that as a meal. We also tried the new savory pancake, which is not a traditional Vietnamese crepe and not a scallion pancake, but the best of both, eggy and savory and sweet (from the rock shrimp) at the same time.

The brussels sprouts with chili butter have gotten better, and the bok choy continues to be my favorite preparation of this dish I've yet encountered in town. The rockfish poached in almond milk and served over congee was also lovely, although I only got a bite as one of my dining companions scarfed it up, raving about the great flavors and comforting nature of it. She also claimed the shaky beef was better than that at the San Francisco restaurant (well-known but I forgot its name already) known for the dish. Two large noodle dishes, the pho and the wide rice noodle in pork-shrimp broth that dcandohio mentioned, were uniformly praised and mostly devoured (seriously, if anyone can actualy finish one of these after appetizers and drinks, I'd like to see it.)

The staff graciously and unnecessarily comped both our desserts in honor of my birthday (which I tried to make up in tips, although my editing-addled brain may have failed at the math). I saw a person or two grabbing take-out, and I'm really pleased that Ba Bay is offering their full menu for this. I just know that there will be countless nights that a big bowl of brothy noodles will hit the spot, and it will be just the right temperature by the time I get it home.

They certainly are learning, changing, and growing. Not every dish I've eaten there has been a home run, but tonight, everything hit the mark, and I was pleased to see that the dishes I like the first time have not slipped in quality even as others have improved. I hope more people learn about this spot and help turn it into a Penn Ave SE gem.

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I don't have much to add, so will agree that the space is lovely and the food generally pleasing. The cocktails were very good, served in 4.5 oz coupes at $10. I had the B&B as well as a Neisson daiquiri.

Hits were short ribs (our server was right, you really should order this with a side of white rice) and the squid in mung beans. The bok choy was so good that the final bites were absolutely awful, given how much ceramic I scraped off my plate in order to get the last remaining bits.

We also tried the new savory pancake, which is not a traditional Vietnamese crepe and not a scallion pancake, but the best of both, eggy and savory and sweet (from the rock shrimp) at the same time.

The dishes that I didn't love (pho and savory pancake) may be due in part that I cannot divorce myself from my expectations that these dishes be served in a more traditional style. The pancake was more of a cakey cornbread type, which was delicious but not what I expected. The pho contained some wonderful steak, but we agreed the broth was a bit too salty. Plus, although it is served with a side of hoisen and sriracha, the other usual suspects (limes, bean sprouts, thai basil) were missing. I usually eat these two dishes as comfort foods, and I guess I don't care for the riffs. However, I would not hesitate to recommend both dishes to my friends who do not have a prior acquaintance with these two classics. I will order the wide noodles in shrimp/pork broth next time for sure.

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As of tonight: Happy Hour 5:30-7:30, including a small portion of the wings for $6 and draft beers for $4. Oh, and a small banh mi ($5), which previously they only had at lunch.

Add the autumn roll and a wine or two, and I may never dine anywhere else ever again.

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Oh, and a small banh mi ($5), which previously they only had at lunch.

Excellent. I've wanted to try it, but it's very difficult for me to get there for lunch.

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The Vietnamese coffee milkshake is stunningly good. I never get to that part of town, but now I'm trying to come up with reasons to, just so I can get that milkshake again.

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We decided to venture out of our Alexandria/Arlington rut and head up to the Hill on Saturday night, along with a visiting friend who used to live in DC. All three of us were more than pleased with our decision, as Ba Bay provided a fun spot to catch up, with excellent food at a reasonable price. Our meal was a sharing experience and we tried several of the dishes mentioned above. A special appetizer is worth mentioning: tempura of lobster and tofu with a cardamom-citrus aioli. Lightly fried, the pieces of lobster and tofu were enhanced by the spectacular flavor of the aioli. We also tried the wings (Banco was right - messy but totally worth it) and the savory pancake. DaRiv18's description of the pancake (cakey cornbread) was right on and I wish I'd read that before ordering. It was good, just very different from what I was expecting, and a bit heavier dish than I would have chosen had I known what to expect. Again, the accompaniment ( Maggi dipping sauce, in this case) was a real flavor enhancer.

For the second round, we ordered the spicy pork-shrimp broth, though I didn't find the noodles to be 'thick' as they were described. It was as good as previously described by others; the thin slices of pork loin were tender and rosy, the broth rich and flavorful. This was a great dish to share - if only we'd had a ladle or an extra soup spoon for serving (yes, we could have asked, but we managed fine with out it :) ). Those short ribs...oh wow...so tender and full of flavor. The bok choy was a nice bit of green to accompany the heartier fare.

Too full for dessert, though I was intrigued by the lemongrass pot de creme, we wrapped things up over a pot of the cinnamon plum herbal tea. A beautiful crimson color with just the right hint of cinnamon to warm me up, but not overpower the fruit flavor.

I appreciated the bartender's patience in letting me try a wine or two to decide what I wanted. As Banco, noted the list (whites, especially) go well with the menu. I also loved whatever Pandora stream they were playing - just the right mix of old and new to give the place a lively ambiance. Can't wait to go back!

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I also loved whatever Pandora stream they were playing - just the right mix of old and new to give the place a lively ambiance. Can't wait to go back!

I comment every time how much I love the music -- it's almost always as though they're streaming my own "favorites" station. Next time, make sure to tell Khoa how much you like the musical selections, and watch his reaction. :)

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Eight pm on a Friday night, snagged the last two top, otherwise it was a 20-30 minute wait at the bar. Unfortunately mix results from the kitchen even after the waiter said we "ordered well"

The trotter terrine was rather bland, not much porkiness and could have used a kick of seasoning (some salt perhaps)

Purple cabbage salad was more successful, however it didn't soar to the heights of other "asian"-style cabbage salads I've had around town, like the ginger salad at Spices.

The side of baby bok choy was just fine. The bok choy was cooked to tender crisp, rather than to the point were the vegetable transforms to a state of silky softness...personally I prefer silky.

Another side, kabocha squash with coconut milk, was too one dimensional. When I have cooked a similar style dish at home there is a nice interplay between the sweet earthiness of the squash and the coconut milk.

Ironically, the mosy mundane item ordered, the vegetable rice was outstanding (we were told chef uses a lot of butter, which might explain the richness of the dish!)

Which brings us to the spicy pork-shrimp broth noodles. On Friday the soup was not particularly porky nor shrimpy, but had a nice spicy note. Leftovers on Sunday however, revealed a completely different dish, full on delicious. Maybe Friday's batch hadn't had enough time to cure properly.

Finally, the Vietnamese coffee milkshake...whoever invented this dessert deserves a medal. We will return to sample the menu further, and we will definitely end the night with that milkshake!

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Just when I'm all, "Hey, I finished the menu!" they have to go and change it up. For the better, even! Gah.

The braised pork and clams with rice cakes and brussels sprouts is delicious. It's savory and salty and earthy and awesome. The crispy rice sticks with sriracha aioli are perfectly cooked -- fried, but sticky-rice-tender on the inside, with yellow mung beans -- and sriracha aioli would be good on pretty much anything, but they were oversalted (this is a post-cooking salting; there just needs to be a lighter hand with the hit of salt out of the fryer) which sort of overshadowed the mild interior flavors.

The rock shrimp cellophane noodle dish has been replaced with a rock shrimp egg noodle dish. The components are the same -- coconut, lemongrass, peppercorn -- but the egg noodles are themselves so much more substantial, and the sauce has a depth to it previously lacking, that this is now a go-to dish. It is outstanding, and for only $12 could be a meal unto itself.

I didn't try what may actually be a Ba Bay metamorphosis of my favorite Vietnamese dish, bun (rice noodles with grilled meat, sprouts, herbs, and fish sauce) which is now on the menu, but I'm pretty sure that will be on order during my first stop next Wednesday upon my return from a five-day work trip.

Shared the above and several other dishes with GennaroE tongiht, meaning I basically just rolled myself home. Oh am I full. And oh was it worth it.

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As leleboo described, we had a great meal tonight. A part of me feared that Ba Bay's concept of modernized Vietnamese food would equate merely to yet another cuisine presented (poorly) via overpriced small plates, but that's not the case here. The kitchen seems to be striking a good balance between innovation and tradition, and other than the slight oversalting of those crispy rice sticks, each dish was flavorful, deftly balanced, and well worth the accompanying price tag.

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Thanks to Leleboo, Ba Bay regular, for getting me to come down from Baltimore to try them. The meal was great. We ate a lot.

I started with a good cocktail, the "633", Brugal rum, St. Germain, & milk punch topped with culantro.

We shared a trio of appetizers: the autumn roll, chili glazed wings with scallion. and the purple cabbage salad with a fish sauce vinaigrette. The autumn roll was rice paper loaded with egg, jicama, Chinese sausage, carrots & jalapenos. It had a really nice kick to it, and the dipping sauce of hoison & peanuts was delicious. I was also really impressed by the purple cabbage salad- it had a really pleasant combination of bitterness and fishiness.

For an entree- I ordered their special soup- a smoked pork broth, with ham hock, braised pork, a soft poached egg, Saigon noodles (like an udon), & celery. The broth was wonderful & complex. We also got a side of flash fried cauliflower with chiles that was awesome. They told us that it is going to be added to the menu as brussel sprouts are not in season now.

I had a bite of Leleboo's Papa Weaver's grilled pork loin with a fish sauce glaze. It was nice and fatty.

For dessert, I barely had enough room to try the awesome Vietnamese coffee milkshake and the lemongrass pot de creme.

I was worried at first about the idea of modernizing Vietnamese food, but I think Ba Bay's got something special going on.

PICS

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Had lunch there today with a friend and loved it. No one else there at !2:30-ish except one other diner.

We both had the 3 course prix fixe lunch special for $19.95, plus Vietnamese coffee (YUM). Started with a pork and clam dish, similar to Thai larb gai - tasty and a generous portion. I ate only half of it. Had the banh mi of the day, pulled pork - nice dressing, crunchy veggies and good bread. Comes with a side of shrimp chips, which did not make it home - 1/2 the sandwich is in my fridge, as this is much larger than the banh mi I get at the Eden Center.

We shared the two desserts - a lemon pot de creme and a black sesame cake with coconut and caramel ice cream - loved both of these but the cake was really unique and delicious.

Great place and hope it succeeds - a nice twist on traditional Vietnamese. Go now.

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Leleboo and I were here for happy hour a few days ago, and I just returned from lunch about a half hour ago. I already knew I loved the food, but now what impresses me is the consistency. We've all had the experience of visiting a new restaurant and discovering a dish we love, only to return a few days later and find it different in some unpleasing way. So far this has not been the case at Ba Bay. The autumn roles are legalized crack, in my opinion. The notorious wings and other dishes continue to impress as they always have. Today I tried the Banh Mi for the first time, the meatball version, and it was just fantastic. Juicy, but crunchy owing to the vegetables and herbs inside, on a nice half baguette. I was sure I wouldn't finish it but ended up practically licking the plate. Drinks continue to excel here as well. The B&B (Cognac, Dolin sweet, Cointreau and Absinthe) is a nice variation on the Sazerac and the perfect introit to what I can only hope will be a boozy weekend (we begin a kitchen/dining room gut-and-renovation on Tuesday).

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Had the $20 three-course lunch special yesterday--they should be a lot busier than they are.

Breckenridge Agave Wheat Beer to drink. A mistake. Thick and uninteresting (lacking any type of citrus, a must for a summer wheat), I wish I had gone with a konig pilsener.

My three courses were the purple cabbage salad, duck confit banh mi sandwich, and lemongrass pot de creme.

The salad was fresh and vibrant. It probably could have fed three people but the bites that contained a good amount of fish sauce and peanuts were great.

The duck banh mi was fantastic. I know almost nothing about Vietnamese cuisine (OK, I know almost nothing about any cuisine east of the Urals) but how could these ingredients not make something awesome: Duck confit, chicken liver spread, a crunchy baguette-ish roll, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, tangy (mustard-based?) sauce.

The pot de creme was cool, creamy and.... lemony. I would recommend it but I would happily try something else too.

This is a great lunch deal if you have the time. I ate around 1pm and had a small vanilla yogurt for dinner.

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Had the $20 three-course lunch special yesterday--they should be a lot busier than they are.

Breckenridge Agave Wheat Beer to drink. A mistake. Thick and uninteresting (lacking any type of citrus, a must for a summer wheat), I wish I had gone with a konig pilsener.

My three courses were the purple cabbage salad, duck confit banh mi sandwich, and lemongrass pot de creme.

The salad was fresh and vibrant. It probably could have fed three people but the bites that contained a good amount of fish sauce and peanuts were great.

The duck banh mi was fantastic. I know almost nothing about Vietnamese cuisine (OK, I know almost nothing about any cuisine east of the Urals) but how could these ingredients not make something awesome: Duck confit, chicken liver spread, a crunchy baguette-ish roll, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, tangy (mustard-based?) sauce.

The pot de creme was cool, creamy and.... lemony. I would recommend it but I would happily try something else too.

This is a great lunch deal if you have the time. I ate around 1pm and had a small vanilla yogurt for dinner.

I was there Tuesday for lunch at the bar but couldn't order the 3-course because I absolutely must have the crack-infused autumn rolls, which are not on the prix fixe menu. They were followed by the rock shrimp/coconut/lemongrass noodles, which were somewhat over-salted due to over-reduction of the sauce. A bit less time on the burner would have made the viscosity and salinity just fine. Then the sesame cake with coconut ice cream and Chantilly, then the wheelbarrow from some kind passing soul who used it to get me out of the place and into my car. I love eating here.

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Banco's crack rolls: still on the menu, and as crack-y as ever.

My crack cauliflower (flash fried with chili and garlic): ditto.

Khoa's version of bun thit nuong: Only available at lunch (harumph, harumph).

Crispy baby Amish chicken with coconut rice and shiitakes: Holy cow, a lovely presentation and delicious option. Plus, a giant dish of that rice, which is like a coconut risotto/congee, would be outstanding.

The pork with rice noodles, fish sauce, peanuts, and herbs: Still ridiculously good. This is my go-to dish, for sure.

New! Jicama salad with grilled shrimp, cucumber, grapefruit and mint: the perfect dish on a hot day. Refreshing, texturally complex but balanced, and with each element in perfect working order, a total win.

Daily happy hour banh mi of fried fish: the fish were sardines, which some people don't like. I happen to love sardines (I love so many things people generally hate, like okra, although I will admit I never got past it when my French family served me rognons, which I didn't like, even if I didn't find out until much later that they were kidneys), and these were perfectly lightly-fried tempura specimens, complemented by the julienned veggies, the dab of mayo, and the crusty baguette. Again, this was texturally perfect, the interplay of soft crumb with flaky shell, crisp veggie, and crisp-but-tender fried fish working together to make a whole larger than the sum of its parts.

And I think, particularly with Khoa and Sarah helming the kitchen right now, this is where Ba Bay shines. There is tremendous attention paid to the interplay of texture and flavor; nothing has just one note. However, while this can get overwhelming at some spots where it takes precedence over execution, Ba Bay's dishes still require that they meet a high standard: if it's too much, if it's creative merely for the sake of showing off the kitchen's ability to innovate, it's not making the cut. The restaurant's strength, at least for those of us in the neighborhood who can go frequently, has been its increasing consistency, that dishes aren't merely good or great but are reliably good or great; I think that's only going to get better as the menu is tweaked to incorporate more of the traditional dishes and evolve into the next stage.

But if they don't put that vermicelli dish on the dinner menu at some point, I may have to ask Banco to send in Vinnie in the Crown Vic. I'm just sayin'.

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I will admit I never got past it when my French family served me rognons, which I didn't like, even if I didn't find out until much later that they were kidneys)

Try rognons blancs sometime (*).

:mellow::unsure::blink:

Et voilĂ  une recette facile (**)!

(*) This is sort of like "Say hi next time!" except worse.

(**) Inference: any recipe that uses an odd number of rognons blancs is tacitly accepting frozen food. Either that or they have a dog (***).

(***) This is the traditional and preferred method of "teste cull." (****) Sort of like a truffle pig except worse.

(****) Sort of like our dr.com picnic cellar culls except worse.

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Try rognons blancs sometime (*).

:mellow::unsure::blink:

"I would prefer not to."

It really was amusing, thinking back, as my French mother, sister, and brother all gestured to try to convey what these were, and my guesses. "Back?" "Ribs?" "Flank?" Never hit on "kidney."

Thank goodness they weren't pantomiming the rognons blancs. That could have crossed the line into child pornography, given that my homestay brother was only 11.

[hideously off-topic, sorry]

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