This weekend, the Uber transportation company is offering up to two free UberX rides for fares originating in or ending in Queens. We decided to take Uber up on this awesome deal and venture from Astoria to Ridgewood, Queens to grab lunch at Bun-Ker, a highly lauded Vietnamese restaurant located a good walk from any nearby subway stops.
Bun-Ker’s improbable origin story is by now well known. Two Queens-born brothers, Jimmy and Jacky Tu, who had cut their teeth in the New York restaurant scene, opened a Seafood distribution company on Bun-Ker’s remote site. When Superstorm Sandy left the young company wrecked and ruined, the brothers changed course to create Bun-Ker, an excellent Vietnamese restaurant in a city that is sorely lacking in this particular cuisine. We’re all lucky that they did.
Our Uber driver dropped us off at the perfect time – we only waited about 5 minutes for one of Bun-Ker’s few tables nestled amid its cozy, clamorous decor – but diners should generally expect to queue up outside for a table to clear.
Once seated, we got right down to the business of ordering. Bun-Ker’s esteemed Crab Spring Rolls are a must-try, and bite for bite one of the most addictive starters I’ve had in recent memory. The crunchy wrapper encloses a nest of glass noodles, carrot slivers and flecks of sweet crab meat and are outstanding when dunked liberally in the accompanying spicy chili sauce.
For entrees, we opted for the Ca Ri Ga, Tender curried hunks of Buddhist Style Bo Bo chicken (whole chickens are sold to customers like Bun-Ker with head and feet on) produced at nearby Bo Bo Poultry Market share an ample bowl with carrots and potatoes. The flaky roti that accompanies the dish is a surprise star and perfect for dunking in the rich curry.
We also ordered the Saigon Special Banh Mi sandwich, a perfectly proportioned flavor pile of Vietnamese ham, sausage, bacon and pork pate balanced with pickled vegetables, cilantro, jalapenos and a generous serving of both mayonnaise and sriracha. A side of the Garlic Tomato Fried Rice rounded out our mains.
Bun-ker has one dessert on the menu and it’s a must order, an unassuming bowl of Coconut Tapioca Pudding with buried slabs of young coconut and jackfruit. After a big meal like the one we’d had, this dessert was great for sharing and a wonderful farewell bite of what Bun-Ker has to offer.
But we won’t stay away for long. We are grateful that the Uber promotion gave us the chance to venture out to Bun-Ker for free this weekend, and what we learned is that it is well worth the price of a ride in the future.