Inside Vancouver's highly anticipated Vietnamese spot "Lunch Lady" (PHOTOS)

Jun 5 2020, 10:21 am

It’s been a big week for restaurant news (Jollibee, we are looking at you), and we’ve just received word about another seriously buzz-worthy spot opening in Vancouver.

Finally, it’s almost time for the city’s highly anticipated spot for authentic Vietnamese eats, Lunch Lady, to open its doors.

Lunch Lady will be opening at 1046 Commercial Drive in the former location of popular spot Five Elements Cafe, which closed last year.

This project is brought to us by local restaurateur Michael Tran, his mother Victoria Tran, who previously ran Five Elements, and Chef Ben Lim, who will be heading up the kitchen and overseeing day-to-day operations at the concept.

Courtesy Lunch Lady

The new restaurant has some big names attached to it, and they’re not just from Vancouver.

“Lunch Lady” was a title given to Vietnamese food stall owner Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh by late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain during his visit to the famed street eats purveyor in Ho Chi Minh City during an episode of No Reservations.

From there, the already popular stall would be known worldwide as “The Lunch Lady” and locals and visitors would gather to try her world-famous noodle soups, which rotated daily.

So how exactly did Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh’s eats make it from South Vietnam all the way to East Vancouver?

Michael Tran first travelled to Vietnam in 2012 to connect with his roots; naturally, he stopped at The Lunch Lady, an experience that he says “changed his life forever.”

In 2018 the restaurateur reached out to Mrs. Nguyen and their partnership began. It was then that the first steps were taken to bring Lunch Lady to North America.

Courtesy Lunch Lady

Now, Lunch Lady’s 1,900-sq-ft Vancouver space has been transformed into a 55-seat spot where folks can look forward to getting a taste of grub inspired by the critically acclaimed street food stall.

The space was designed by StudioCM. The team took design cues from the metropolitan streetscape of Ho Chi Minh City as well as the buildings that surround The Lunch Lady’s cart in an unassuming alleyway.

“The design aims to be utilitarian and unobtrusive, allowing the bright colours of the food to take the spotlight,” says Tran.

Lunch Lady’s branding and design were done by Glasfurd & Walker.

Bò Né, Bánh Mì Ốp La, Bánh Mì Xíu Mại (Courtesy Lunch Lady)

Street Side Staples (Courtesy Lunch Lady)

If the photos tell us anything, these eats are going to be awesome. The eatery will offer daily noodle rotations (bún bò huế, bún thái, bánh canh cua) along with some traditional Vietnamese brunch items daily from 11 am to 3 pm.

As an ode to its predecessor, patrons dining at Lunch Lady will also be able to enjoy some neighbourhood favourites from Five Elements.

Dinner here means shareable family-style dishes, all made with authentic and local ingredients.

For drinks, there will be a selection of cocktails infused with Vietnamese flavours alongside classic beverages with a twist and Vietnamese beers.

Bún Mắm (Courtesy Lunch Lady)

The full brunch, lunch, and dinner menus will be revealed on their website soon. Lunch lady will open with a limited takeout menu in the coming weeks, which will be offered daily from 11 am to 7 pm.

The restaurant will open for dine-in service on July 1 — the countdown is officially on.

“I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to carry on Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh’s legacy in the city I grew up in,” says Tran. “We are the first to bring this style of Vietnamese dining to Vancouver.”

Courtesy Lunch Lady

Lunch Lady

Address: 1046 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

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