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Food Review: new Vietnamese restaurant in Citrus Heights earns 5-stars

Bo Urban Corner, Citrus Heights
Bo Urban Corner opened in Citrus Heights in January 2017. // CH Sentinel

Review by Hazel Ford–
Decorated with strings of colorful flags, Bo Urban Corner presents a new modern and clean storefront on San Juan Avenue. Entering on a recent weekday, my companions and I took our seats and were given tall glasses of ice water while we considered our orders.

Freeman Nguyen, who co-owns the small eatery at the corner of San Juan and Sperry Drive with his son, made conversation with us while we deliberated, explaining the meals offered at the restaurant. The urban eatery has a simple menu with three main choices: Fresh Rolls, Fresh Bowl, and Banh Mi. Each meal is $7.99 and comes with a choice of protein. If the wide range of meats isn’t for you, tofu is also an option.

We placed our orders at the counter, then returned to our booth to wait. Freeman brought us an assortment of sauces, and our meals were delivered about five minutes later. Seeking a flavor of the various choices the restaurant offered, we ordered fresh rolls with tofu, a salmon bowl, a beef bowl, and salmon Banh Mi to-go.

The rolls were fresh, filled with tofu and greens, and wrapped with a translucent rice paper. The rolls were conveniently sized, and we learned they are called or “Gio Cuon” in Vietnamese, which means “salad roll.”

The bowls were heaped with rice vermicelli, greens, meat, and a sliced egg roll. While the noodles were very simple and plain, the vinegar sauce given to us earlier by the ever-attentive Freeman added a nice tangy flavor. The crisp sprouts, lettuce, cilantro, and cucumbers were a healthy addition as well. The large portion of salmon included was well-flavored and perfectly cooked.

The salmon Banh Mi was a fresh and flavorful sandwich, loaded with meat, greens, jalapenos, and a creamy white Sriracha sauce, all between a warm sliced french baguette. Spicy, filling, and crunchy.

While we enjoyed our meal, Freeman checked in on us frequently to share a few jokes and make sure our every need was met. He was un-endingly gracious and we thoroughly enjoyed his service.

That hospitality has also been noticed by the other customers at Bo Urban Corner, who have rated the restaurant a solid five-out-of-five stars on Yelp. Nearly 100 reviewers rave about everything from the interior decorating to the service to the affordable prices, and — of course — the simple but delicious menu. One of the few negative reviews mentioned that there was a very long wait for takeout, however.

After our lunch, I took a seat at the stylish, modern bar to ask Freeman a few questions about his restaurant. He shared about his past restaurant experience, including his time as owner of four Bobo Cafes in the area, which he started in 1990. He sold the chain to his cousin, and there are now only two of the restaurants in operation.

He said his son, Jason, encouraged him to open the new restaurant when his girlfriend started renting a nail salon next door. Freeman waited a few months, although he eventually rented the space and opened the Vietnamese eatery in January 2017.

Freeman also shared a story of how he started operating restaurants, beginning with his journey to the United States. The 70-year-old said he and his wife came to the United States 42 years ago, when she was only five months pregnant with Jason. The young family then lived in Texas for 10 years, before moving to California to operate a franchise restaurant on Watt Avenue.

Bo Urban Corner coupon: Buy 2 lunches, get 1 free

Commenting on his standards for the restaurant, he asked me to guess what the most important place in his restaurant was, and hesitatingly I asked if it was the kitchen. “Nope,” he replied. “My restroom. Any time you go into any restaurant, if you see the restroom is clean… everything is clean.”

Freeman continued, sharing that while the customer is his “owner,” the health inspector is his “friend.” He said that a lot of restaurant owners are scared of health inspections, but the only thing the inspector can do is help. “If you don’t listen to them, you shouldn’t be in the business,” he laughed.

When asked about his plans for the future of the restaurant, Freeman said there are plans to add lemongrass chicken to the menu, an expansion that should be introduced in two to three weeks.

For its tasteful style, friendly service, and excellent food, Bo Urban Corner earns five-out-of-five stars from The Sentinel.

Bo Urban Corner is located at 6001 San Juan Ave. in Citrus Heights and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sunday.

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