Disclosure: I was invited to a media event where all food and beverages were complimentary. All opinions are my own.
Newly opened House Special brings elevated and modern Vietnamese cuisine to Yaletown. At House Special, you’ll find creative craft beer, wine and cocktail pairings with dishes that have a contemporary take on traditional Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a trendy eatery offering an upscale Vietnamese food experience. Their location (1269 Hamilton) is in a very quiet part of Yaletown but this may soon change with more traffic from foodies coming to the restaurant.
Family is at the heart of House Special as the team behind it includes brother and sister duo, Patrick and Victoria Do, along with their mother and Head Chef, Yen, working alongside Executive Chef Phong Vo (formerly Heirloom, Electric Owl, and Ramen Sanpachi). The Do family have been in the local restaurant industry for the past 30 years, operating Green Lemongrass on Kingsway and in Richmond, as well as Broken Rice in Burnaby Heights. This is the first restaurant venture by Patrick and Victoria.
Specials + Spirits Tasting Menu
This week, I previewed House Special’s upcoming Specials + Spirits Tasting Menu. This special 4-course tasting menu with cocktail pairing runs July 22 – 24 and is priced at $65/person. The menu includes:
Beef carpaccio with broccoli and Vietnamese herb puree, served with crispy rice and roasted broccoli
Nick Carey’s “Apocalypse Now” New York Sour
Rye, Ginger Syrup, Citrus, Pinot Noir, Peppered Lime
Temple’s Fried Quail
Chicken fried buttermilk quail and sriracha gelee, served with a cilantro and jalapeño buttermilk biscuit
Bryan Statham’s “Hoi An Fruit Stand”
Watermelon, Gin, Ginger Syrup and Berliner Weisse
XO Cobia & Stuffed Squid
Boudin noir stuffed squid with seared cobia, served with lemon pilaf with mushroom xo sauce
Chef Phong Vo’s Sake Iced Tea
Fresh Soursop Sorbet
Nathan Jone’s Lemongrass Drop
Limoncello, Vodka, Lemongress Syrup Fresh Squeezed Kalamansi
Limes, Lemongrass infused Sugar Rim
We started off the evening with a unique and refreshing appetizer: compressed watermelon, octopus and cucumber on a skewer.
Next was the first course featuring beef carpaccio with broccoli and Vietnamese herb puree, served with crispy rice and roasted broccoli.
The carpaccio were nicely thin and had a slightly tangy taste. I enjoyed the crispy rice for textural contrast.
The New York Sour was a strong cocktail that was sweet and sour.
For the second course, we had chicken fried buttermilk quail and sriracha gelée, served with a cilantro and jalapeño buttermilk biscuit. The sriracha gelée should just be lightly applied to the quail for a gentle kick and some sweetness. I enjoyed how crispy the quail was.
The cocktail for the second course was “Hoi An Fruit Stand” – a refreshing concoction of watermelon, gin, ginger syrup and Berliner Weisse.
The third course seemed French-inspired: boudin noir stuffed squid with seared cobia. This dish showcases the culintary team’s creativity being filling the black sausage into the white pockets of the squid. It’s an interesting use of boudin noir, which was creamy and flavourful. The seared cobia was moist and tender.
The Sake Iced Tea was wonderfully aromatic and refreshing. It’s such a deceiving cocktail in being able to hide the alcohol taste so well. My favourite drink of the evening.
To finish off a fantastic meal was the fresh soursop sorbet. I must admit that I wasn’t familiar with what a soursop was. Fortunately, Patrick and Victoria’s mother/Head Chef, Yen, brought out the green tropical fruit to show us.
The final cocktail of the evening was the Lemongrass Drop: citrusy and vodka-infused.
All in all, I was impressed by House Special’s innovative take on Vietnamese cuisine. It was a first for me to experience a cocktail pairing with Vietnamese dishes.
For more information on House Special and the Specials + Spirits Tasting menu, visit http://housespecial.ca/