Tasting on Brno
Something I didn’t know before I went to Brno is that it has a large enough Vietnamese immigrant population that there’s a Little Saigon east of city center. So yeah, you can find decent Vietnamese food here. Surprise! I also had my epic roasted pork knee experience in Brno.
The currency in Czech Republic is the koruna (Kč), and at the time of writing, the exchange rate was about 24 Kč to US$1. All businesses are listed from most budget-friendly to least within each category.
Coffee & desserts
On my last afternoon in Brno, I went to Cafe Tungsram to camp out for a few hours. Only after I’d ordered a Viennese coffee (38 Kč: too much whipped cream for my taste) did I ask for the wifi credentials. They didn’t have in written down anywhere, and the waiter entered it into my phone for me. Odd. Then I figured out that their network wouldn’t let me access anything other than Google. Useless!
Oh, well. I also ordered the chocolate tort with sea salt (43 Kč), which was gooey on the inside, but nothing to write home about.
My [Couchsurfing][cs] host Aurelija tries to eat vegan as much as possible because of food allergies, so when we wanted to grab some ice cream, I suggested Cafe Atlas since it serves one flavor of vegan ice cream a day (45 Kč).
When we went, they were serving vanilla and peanut butter. From the taste, they probably used coconut milk to make it. Yummy!
If you need a place in the center of the city that sells really cheap food that is somewhat portable for a bus ride, Poe-Poe is your place!
I grabbed two pizza slices (16 Kč each), one with broccoli with corn and another with Canadian bacon with onions. But because I didn’t eat them until a couple of hours later, they were probably not in peak form. They were fine for padding my empty belly on the bus to Olomouc, though.
After finding out about the sizable Vietnamese immigrant population in Brno, I became curious about the offerings available. Vietnamské Bagety was just the place to check out: it had only been open for a few months when I got to it in early September 2016, and the owner mentioned that he had come across Lee’s Sandwiches when researching examples of the concept he was going for and improve upon.
The restaurant is tiny, just two two-tops and one five-top. They had banh mi, pho, spring rolls, and dry noodles. I got a small bowl of beef pho for 70 Kč, which is under half what I’d pay in SF. On the tables, a large jar of spicy bamboo shoots is just sitting there for the taking. They didn’t bring out a plate of herbs: rather, they throw the fresh herbs in immediately before serving. The pho was also heavy on the black pepper. A lemon wedge and red chili pepper come with the dish. The rice noodles are a bit wider and flatter than I’m used to, but I enjoyed them all the same. The beef was in tiny chunks rather than thin slices, perhaps to cater to the Czech palate. Overall, I enjoyed it.
U Bláhovky is a Pilsner Urquell tap pub just northwest of city center that is also famous for their roasted pork knee. When I walked in on a Wednesday afternoon, the bartenders pointed around the corner to the inner room, so that’s where I went to find a table. When a bartender came by to take my order, he was surprised that I wasn’t sitting with the only other party in the room: three Vietnamese gentlemen. I had been mistaken as someone in their party!
But they were super nice and asked in broken English where I’m from and where I’m studying. The three of them bought me a large and small beer and toasted with me in Chinese periodically. They also got me an order of pork knee, which was humongous but tasted great. The Vietnamese guys shared one order between them, whereas I somehow managed to eat it by myself.
On my last day, I walked north of city center in search of U Karla to try their lunch menu. The four options didn’t seem particularly local, but they were huge, affordable (79 Kč), and come with free soup. I got the pork cutlets with vegetable sauce and fries, which came with a cabbage and onion salad.
Today’s soup was a carrot, mushroom, potato, and pork soup.
I also got a local beer (Měšťanský pivovar v Poličce) for 37 Kč.
The staff spoke great English and Spanish to me, and they were friendly and fast. They did charge 14 Kč for a side of tartar sauce that they called mayonnaise, but I’ll overlook it. It was a relatively good value, but I probably wouldn’t return for the lunch menu.