Last weekend I ventured over to Bistro B just past the Lake Highlands border. The large Vietnamese restaurant and deli at the corner of Audelia and Walnut, about a block away from Richland College, is right next to an Asian supermarket [Hong Kong Market] that I’ve shopped a time or two, and the place has always intrigued yet intimidated me, with good reason, frankly, because Bistro B is a little overwhelming to the newcomer.

Upon entry, I am flanked by bright colors and erratic décor, and a half-dozen television sets. To my right — a large dining room bustles with servers around several tables. Ahead, a counter backed by digital ever-shifting menus is manned by three young girls chattering in a language I don’t understand. To the left sits more TVs, a computer, and an impressive aquarium. Just in front of me is an unattended host stand. I pick up a menu that is essentially the Vietnamese equivalent of a Cheesecake Factory menu (Biblical proportions, that is). I want to turn and leave, but I have promised my son I’ll bring home dinner and, darn it, I am going to get through this, I think.

At the counter, I order [from efficient though not overly polite staffers] a safe-looking beef and vegetable dish with rice for my son and, for me, broiled Tilapia. Note to self while waiting: the deli is chock-full of fresh spring rolls, candies and gelatin-like desserts. They also offer a coffee bar featuring ice coffee and cappuccinos. It’s 6 p.m. on a Saturday and the tables in the dining room are filling up. 

Back at home with the food, the beef is tender and simply seasoned and the veggies are fresh and copious — a good choice. The fish came whole — head and all — which was a bit of a surprise [“gross!” my son declared] but it was about as good as Tilapia, not an expensive fish, gets.

I don’t feel I can offer a fair assessment of the Bistro B menu or cuisine, however, until I try a few more items — there are SO MANY options The good news is that I will go back, next time with increased confidence.

Bistro B is located at 9780 Walnut Street. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and are open from 8 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. Contact 214.575.9885.