Bo Laksa King (BLK) is my favourite Pan-Asian restaurant in the Vancouver area. I became addicted to their signature dishes of laksa and roti canai when they first started out as a take-out counter/stall inside the neighbourhood grocery store, Joyce-Way Food Market back in 2009. As the word got out about how good the laksa and roti were, Vancouver foodies were flocking to BLK. Some of the foodies convinced Bo to expand his menu to include items such as the Burmese pickled tea leaf salad (Lahpet Thoke). Bo moved to his current location in 2010 and expanded his menu to include even more dishes as he now had a proper kitchen. Since I discovered BLK in 2009, I’ve been going to BLK at least twice on every visit to Vancouver.
On my recent trip to Vancouver last month, I visited BLK twice. The first was for dinner. When I arrived, I noticed the menus had changed slightly since my last visit back in January. I was relieved that all my favourite dishes were still on there.
We shared a large order of the infamous Roti Canai ($6.99). Roti Canai is a South-East Asian pastry pancake. At BLK, it is served with a choice of either a curry chicken dipping sauce or condensed milk and sugar. Unfortunately on this visit, the kitchen was having an off day. This is the first time in the dozen plus times that I’ve been there, the Roti wasn’t quite right. It was dense and didn’t have all the soft flaky layers on the inside that it usually does. The outside was still crispy but because all the layers stuck together, the Roti was stiff and crunchy. I was disappointed as this has been one of the main reasons why I keep on going back to BLK. I have not had Roti Canai as good as Bo’s anywhere else when it’s done right.
Next up was the Green Mango Salad ($6.95). The Green Mango salad consists of shredded green mango, cabbage, fried onions, garlic, crushed peanuts, roasted chili flakes, dried shrimps, and is tossed in a cilantro, lime vinaigrette dressing. This is one of my favourite salads at BLK. The taste is very refreshing and I like the contrast of the textures and flavours of the different ingredients in the salad. This salad tasted just as good as I remembered it to taste from previous visits.
Another favourite of mine is the Drunken Beef ($8.95). This dish consists of stir-fried beef slices with lemon grass, ginger, garlic, hot pepper, Thai basil, mushrooms, and finished with a house made sweet soy sauce. I really enjoy the flavour combination of the Thai basil with the stir-fried beef and mushrooms. This dish is kind of similar to the typical spicy Thai basil beef dish except with a twist as the sauce is slightly sweet and not very spicy.
The star of the show was the Spicy Tomato Chili Crab ($20). It consists of a two-pound Dungeness crab fried in Bo’s signature spicy tomato chili sauce. This dish must be pre-ordered at least a day in advance. The crab is fried to perfection. The meat is tender and flavourful. I really enjoyed the depth of flavours in spicy tomato chili sauce. The sauce is quite spicy but at the same time slightly sweet and tangy. This is definitely not a dish for those who cannot handle spicy food. I like the sauce so much that I could just eat the sauce alone with some rice.
On my second visit to BLK last month, I went with my friend for lunch. Again, we ordered the Roti Canai. The small order was $3.99. This time the Roti was back to normal and as tasty as I remembered it to be. The Roti was very light with a crispy and flaky exterior and lots and lots of soft layers on the inside. A bite into this Roti reminded me of why I go back to BLK multiple times during each visit to Vancouver. I just can’t get enough of the Roti and I have not found another place that makes it this good.
My friend and I also shared the Papaya Salad ($6.95). The salad consists of shredded green papaya, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, crushed peanuts, fresh red chili, dried shrimps, green beans, and is tossed in a garlic, lime vinaigrette dressing. Personally, I find the Papaya Salad tastes very similar to the Green Mango Salad. I like the Green Mango a little bit more than the Papaya because I find the Green Mango to be slightly crunchier in terms of texture.
As our main, my friend and I shared the Tom Yam soup with vermicelli ($7.75; $6.75 for soup, $1 extra for vermicelli). This is one of the more tasty Tom Yam soups that I’ve had. It is a soup made from lemon grass, kaffir lime, hot peppers, lime juice, and mushrooms. For meat, we had a choice of either chicken or shrimp. We chose the shrimp. What I like about the Tom Yam at BLK is that the broth is quite rich and has a depth of flavour. It is also quite spicy which makes it quite addictive. I find myself craving it and looking forward to my visits to BLK so that I can have the Tom Yam soup again.
Bo Laksa King
2546 E. Hastings St.