Photo Note: Tommy Lee, an extremely talented Vietnamese chef who trained in New Orleans’ high-end Asian restaurants, prepares Vietnamese cuisine for customers at Noodle Bar.
“It’s not as popular as pho, but it has an incredible flavor.” That’s how my server described Bún bò Huế, a spicy beef, lemongrass and noodle soup served at Noodle Bar in downtown Shreveport. Noodle Bar is a Vietnamese soup counter located at the rear of Sportsmans’ Paradise Café on the first floor of Eldorado Resort Casino.
One of the best kept food secrets in Shreveport-Bossier, in my opinion, is the fact that Sportsmans’ Paradise Café also serves a mindbogglingly authentic menu of Asian cuisine (including menu items like Cantonese duck, Thai tom yum soup and dishes incorporating house-made kimchee) – you just have to know how to get to it. As outlined on the restaurant’s website, the Asian menu at Sportsmans’ Paradise Café is only served at the following times: 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Monday & Thursday; 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Friday & Saturday; and 2 p.m.-10 p.m., Sunday. Asian menu items are not served on Tuesday or Wednesday.
When I visited Noodle Bar on a recent Saturday night and requested the menu, I was surprised to find only three items available. However, one item turned out to be the delicious Bún bò Huế soup, which will delight folks who enjoy pho but are looking to try something a bit more adventurous. Bún bò Huế is a spicy, rich cousin to pho, with thicker noodles, chunks of tender beef brisket and an incredible balance of sweet, spicy and sour flavors. I loved it. When I asked my server about the much larger Asian menu I’d heard about, he pointed out that I was referring to the Asian menu items from Sportsmans’ Paradise Café, which is different from the Noodle Bar menu. Navigating the idea of three different menus being served by one restaurant is a little confusing, but worth the effort.
On my next visit, my goal is pick out something I’ve never had before from the Asian menu at Sportsmans’ Paradise Café (Hong Kong-style fried soft shell crab? Fried short ribs with rice noodle salad?).
Who would have ever guessed that such a culinary adventure would await at the Sportsmans’ Paradise Café?