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La Ca Bar

Simple, fresh eats

The grilled chicken and rice dish is perfectly portioned. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: Dutch and Jackie have been waiting for the hype to die down a bit before visiting new Vietnamese eatery, La Ca Bar. Now that it's been a few months, some of the hubbub has died down and it was time to visit this 6th Ave gem.   

JACKIE: It's in no way a reflection of the dining experience as a whole, but man, that parking lot is petite and not quite equipped for the volume of folks visiting either La Ca Bar or the neighboring pot shop next door. They had a parking attendant outside to orchestrate vehicles coming and going. Once inside, we were greeted with a warm, simple-minimalistic vibe. Which is a matrimony that is hard to exude but La Ca Bar manages it.

DUTCH:  Boy, you aren't kidding about the parking, but the friendly service quickly eased my mind. I wouldn't have known without being told, but there is service available both at the few tables in view from the door and upstairs where there is more of a lounge feel to the experience.  When I see fried, I generally say "yes please," and with Cha Ram (deep fried rolls) on the menu, it was a no-brainer. These petite rice paper treats are filled with whole shrimp, pork belly, green onions, and mushrooms before being deep-fried to a crispy perfection. Add sweet fish sauce for dipping, and it offered a great flavor and textural balance to start my meal.

JACKIE: We had to start with the fish sauce wings, which boasted a nice crisp skin (the true testament to a good wing is texture) and enough sauce to get the point across. For lunch I couldn't pass up the grilled pork Bahn Mi, though other options included cold pork, grilled chicken and tofu. Served up on a baguette with cucumber, cilantro, fresh jalapeno and pickled papaya carrots, the sandwich impressed with the flavorful and fresh veggies that added the perfect texture to each bite. My one complaint would be that it was a bit dry, with a large bread-to-meat ratio in some nibbles and mayo would not be my condiment of choice.

DUTCH: I also had the same reaction to my Bahn Mi, but found that a little sriracha sauce goes a long way without taking away from the fresh flavors the sandwich offers.

JACKIE: We also tried the C?m Gà N??ng Ch? Tàu H? K (Grilled Chicken Rice Dish), which was perfectly portioned for a meal. Steamed white rice and grilled chicken lay the base with a tasty egg cake and shrimp cake both providing savory complements to a plain foundation. On the side, you'll receive a fish sauce to finish the dish and a crisp side salad with pickled papaya carrots. There was also a cup of light broth-soup with chopped green onions afloat that teased with a whisper of ginger. It was a satisfying dish and a good go-to for those who might be choosy eaters or those afraid of flavor town.

DUTCH: The soup definitely hits the mark here. On another visit, I ordered the Pho Ga, which was served in a bowl large enough to satisfy any appetite. Mellow broth is loaded with rice noodles, plenty of steamed chicken, slices of hard-boiled eggs and then topped with fresh green onions and cilantro. Though the freshness of the cilantro and onions really drives the flavor, I found that a touch of hoisin sauce really brought all the flavors together.

LA CA BAR, 11 a.m. to midnight, Monday-Thursday & Sunday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday-Saturday, 606 South Junett, Tacoma, 253.267.5540,

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