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Possible dumb Vietnamese resto question

I suspect this could be one of those things that EVERYONE else in the world knows - except me. But I have no shame and I will, finally, ask:

What's up with that very stylized cartoonish smiling cow face that shows up on every Vietnamese restaurant - or at least, almost every. At first I thought - oh, well, it's a chain of some sort. But then I realized that the places that used the cow on its sign were most likely not connected in any way. Am I wrong? Crazy? Really really dumb?

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  1. I must either be really clueless and unobservant, or something, because all I can say is, what cow face? Never noticed any such thing. Could it be something regional to your area?

    1. I've seen that smiling cow at only one Vietnamese restaurant that I can recall-- Arc-en-Ciel in Dallas. I have a very vague memory of my parents once explaining to me that Arc-en-Ciel was a famous restaurant in Vietnam that served a meal consisting of 7 beef courses ("bo 7 mon"). The Dallas version was not actually related to the original but the cover of the menu had a smiling cow (at least it did when I was a kid), presumably to denote or celebrate "bo 7 mon." But this is all a really vague memory, so take that explanation with a grain of salt.

      1 Reply
      1. I've never seen such a cow, and I've eaten at more Vietnamese restaurants than I can count, including those in huge Vietnamese enclaves in San Jose and Garden Grove.

        1. When I was little, I seem to remember cans of sweetened condensed milk in my Viet mom's pantry that had a cow on the label; she used it for her Viet coffee. But I doubt this is related to your resto sightings.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chaddict

            You must mean Eagle Brand Condensed Milk! I remember this from my childhood.

            Never seen the cow at any Viet restaurant in NYC,

          2. It's a very specific image. Next time I see it, I'll take a picture and re-post the question. It's not impossible that it's regional - I've seen it in Toronto - but I've seen it in many places in Toronto which is why I wondered about it.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Nyleve

              Ok - got it. That's the cow!!! Anyone???

              1. re: Nyleve

                That is pretty cool. The literal translation of the restaurant is Pho Cow Head. The cartoon makes sense. I like that pho place. I last went there when I was in Toronto for Christmas. Other than that cow, I have not seen that cartoon on any other Viet restaurants and I grew up near San Jose and currently live in So Cal.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Yep, same cow that i've seen.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    Hey, that cow appears in some restaurants in Vietnam; and "bo" means cow.

                    1. re: Nyleve

                      OK, that looks like the condensed milk cow. I wonder if they just swiped the image from the can to use for restos specializing in beef. I mean, condensed milk cans are ubiquitous in Vietnam.

                      I tried looking up Eagle Brand but they all have, you guessed it, eagles on them. But I really do remember the cow.

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          Thanks! It was good to see an old friend! The web site I was looking at had the OLD can with an actual eagle.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        I've seen it (or something similar) in San Diego. But not at every Vietnamese restaurant.


                    2. Never seen it in any viet restaurant in the sizeable NOLA vietnamese communities, nor anywhere in Houston/environs.

                      1. I've seen it in Spokane (1place) and once or twice driving through the Seattle area.

                        1. I'm pretty sure this is a regional thing. But I do have a theory about it. The Laughing Cow cheese is very big in vietnam. I think it carried on from the french colony days. Pho-centric restaurants are ubiquitous around the world. And since pho is almost always made with beef, the Laughing Cow logo is adopted as the mascot?


                          1. Many Viet restos in Melbourne have a cartoonish pic, similar to the Laughing Cow cheese fellow on their windows.. and often accompanied by a cartoonish smiling chicken...

                            1. Just piping in after seeing this post on the main CH page...don't have Vietmamese very often, nor do I recognize the cow, but how about asking the people who work in the restaurant what it means?