HOME > Chowhound > Greater Seattle >
Aug 2, 2011 05:27 AM

Ba Bar

Wanted to like this place, because I've always like Monsoon, but no go. Let me sum up: wrong food (brought by waiters who don't seem to be able to converse), no food (when I asked where my companion's lunch was, I got an irritated look; she said it would be "right out" when she obviously hadn't even placed the order yet), no apologies. Plus, what food we did get wasn't that great, the dumplings had something gritty in them. Too bad, because it's a great space in a good location. Won't be back.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I was there on Sunday and enjoyed the Hue dumplings, they were the highlight to me. There was some bean paste in the filling that was a rough, you could say gritty, texture but it was not unpleasant to me. Service did seem less than fully engaged, but we got all the food we ordered in a timely manner. Also had the duck tofu roll that was pretty good but I didn't enjoy the tomato sauce with it, sauce was sweet (as tomatoes can be) and threw me off when I was hoping for a more typically Viet soy/lime/herb flavor profile. Special sole on crispy fried rice paper with cucumber & tomato salad was interesting, combo vermicelli bowl was up to snuff. I was a little disappointed in the menu, I had hoped it would be longer or feature more obscure dishes, but I guess you have to offer the standards for the mainstream crowd. I would probably go back, if there was a reason to go there instead of Monsoon or Tamarind Tree or Green Leaf or anywhere in White Center. There is so much good Vietnamese food around already, Ba Bar needs something a little more unique and special to keep me coming back.

    1. I’m with you all .. REALLY want to love Ba Bar but there is not much to recommend. Horribly distant service, very average food ... I suppose if you must have a cocktail with your just OK Vietnamese food but really, when there is Tamarind Tree a few blocks away, why settle?
      I’ve been multiple times and have been let down each time I go by lukewarm bland soup, laughably bad service from walking in the door through to the check, just OK cocktails, over 30 minute waits for easy entrees, pasty desserts, mealy dumplings where the sauce is cold and the dumpling is barely warmed through, I’ve had to go to the kitchen for chili sambal myself. Basically the food is a sort of whitified version of the Vietnamese places down the street .. so I suppose if you are uncomfortable going to eat at the real thing then this is your penance for being unadventurous

      Tamarind Tree
      1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

      1 Reply
      1. re: oliveoyl

        But the sad part is, people won't know how great Vietnamese food is! So much more flavor when you get the unedited version. I love Monsoon for the wine list and the atmosphere, but Ba Bar just wasn't that special.

      2. You are so right. This place has the worst service imaginable. I had heard that the service was bad and was somewhat prepared, but I had no idea. Here's my review in detail, if you are interested: http://wp.me/p1yCO9-5T

        7 Replies
        1. re: qlandseattle

          Yet service is good at Monsoon, so it's not like these people don't know how to do it right. Odd.

          1. re: babette feasts

            True, in my experience although many would disagree. But based on Baguette Box where the service is truly terrible it would seem that they have a real problem.

            Baguette Box
            1203 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101

            1. re: qlandseattle

              Well I had good service and fine food a week ago with my wife.They were all a bit hesitant, but it was fine...and not too expensive. qlandseattle has a pretty apparent grudge against these people.

              1. re: DonJ

                i agree Don, qlandseattle does seem to have a grudge .. I hope that Ba Bar does get it together .. i think there is talent in the kitchen, it just feels like the whole place needs leadership

                1. re: oliveoyl

                  I'm not sure how to respond to "having a grudge" against a restaurant. I do not have anything personally against the place or the people other than the direct experience of their service.

                  I'm not alone in this feeling. If you read the reviews of the place they consistently say how abad the service is. Even the people trying to like the place are appalled. Do I think that's a bad thing. Yes. Do I think people should avoid this place? Absolutely.

                  1. re: qlandseattle

                    perhaps it’s the title of your article stating Ba Bar must die .. seems a bit extreme.

                    1. re: oliveoyl

                      Yes..that is what prompted my comment.
                      We ate there last night. I keep having a fine experience?

        2. Must have gotten better because I thought it was FABULOUS!

          We went for dinner last Tuesday night and they were about 70% full. The entrance is a bit weird - there's a coffee/bakery area and no obvious host station. Someone came out from the coffee area and seated us in the dining room. The waitress was friendly but had a hard time describing some of the items on the menu - specifically the bahn hoi which was not at all what I thought she had described but DELISH anyway!

          My SO had the Mi Viet Tiem (duck leg confit, egg noodle, in broth) which was really nice. It took me back to my childhood in Hawaii where I'd often order duck noodle soup when we went out for Chinese food. This was a very good rendition but, through no fault of its own, was totally overshadowed by the SPICY PORK BELLY with Bahn Hoi that I ordered.

          The pork belly was divine, and even more so with the spicy, salty addictive sauce they serve it with. You have a choice between broken rice or Bahn Hoi which is basically rice noodles that have been pressed into a cake and then broken up into bite size pieces. The Bahn Hoi is really good - its chewy and sops up some of the juice and sauce. If you like rice noodles and chewy texture, definitely try it (I decided to try it because I figure if I didn't like it I could probably get a side of rice for basically nothing...but I loved it). I added a fried egg to the dish, which was cooked perfectly and did just push it over the top. Awesome.

          To be honest, SO and I were "sharing" but the pork belly dish was so good it probably ended up more like a 25/75 split than true 50/50. I could tell that he knew that but didn't call me on it. Gots to love that. :)

          We finished up with a flourless chocolate cake that was pretty tasty.

          When the check came, we thought the waitress had made a mistake but nope, it's just inexpensive. REALLY good food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: akq

            I've been to Ba Bar 3or 4 times now and I love it. To me, it's a Vietnamese Cafe Presse. You can get something any time day or night.