For my friend’s birthday, we went to BoCaphe in SoHo. All of New York’s SoHo area is trendy, and BoCaphe’s location, mere meters away from Jack’s Wife Freda and down the block from the mothership Supreme store, may have reflected in its menu too much.
Visually, the place was stunning. The atmosphere of the light-filled space was great, and the restaurant was filled with whimsical touches like the upside-down potted plants on the ceiling.
I loved the wallpaper, which was printed with examples of ancient Vietnamese clothing (upper-class clothing heavily influenced by China, not peasant garb).
Also enjoyed seeing the framed photos and prints.
The menu makes BoCaphe out to be health-conscious Vietnamese food with a French twist (the “twist” was the same French “twist” of any other Vietnamese place – France colonized Vietnam).
Our orders looked very good, but we were disappointed by the lack of flavor. The only thing we all loved was the shishito peppers ($8), so you get three pictures of that (I took way more, since they looked so prety in the wooden bowl with the lime wedges).
The generous portion of well-seasoned blistered peppers were set off perfectly by the bright lime wedges.
I ordered the classic pho ($16), and my friend ordered the vegan pho ($14) with veggie dumplings ($4 for three).
The most important part of pho is the broth, and these soups just had no flavor. Neither of us finished out small (by Vietnamese standards) bowls. There is really no reason to ever come to BoCaphe for pho, especially pho that with no add-ons starts at $16 (!) for the classic. Yeah, BoCaphe has you paying for the *aesthetic* and location, but I’d rather go to a no-frills, basic Vietnamese place that takes pho seriously for $6-8.
The kitchen forgot my order, so that was also not cool. My Yoyo Mango smoothie (mango, banana, yogurt, strawberry, coconut water), which was also forgotten, was a waste of $8 as the only flavors present were strawberry, banana, and yogurt. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to taste the ingredients listed.
The beef & lemongrass bo bun (rice vermicelli noodle bowl), $17, and the avocado toast on pecan and cranberry bread ($9, + $3 for an egg) were fine, but no one was especially enthusiastic about anything.
I did think the egg banh mi (omelette, baquette, Laughing Cow cheese, pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro with salad, $14) was pretty good. Not good enough to come here considering all the other issues, and definitely available somewhere else for half the price.
A pink mojito (sake, lime juice, mint, strawberries, soda water, $13) to finish. BoCaphe’s drinks menu is interesting, with entries such as the Ho Chi Mint (house sake, ginger, lemon juice, pineapple, mint, $13), the Back to Black (sake, lemon, honey, lavender, black charcoal, $13), and bubble tea (jasmine iced tea, lychee syrup, tapicoa, $7). BoCaphe could be a fun place to hang out for drinks at…before going somewhere else to eat.
222 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012