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Best Pho in Vancouver


cabrales
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If I could make one more request, it would be a photo of the shop front/signage (to help with locating these places from the street).

You mean having an address and seeing the word "Pho" on the storefront isn't enough? Wow, I thought I was directionaly challenged :raz:

Something I've been noticing at my usual Pho haunts is a decrease in the amount of Thai basil and bean sprouts served. Even at Kim Phung ... last time I ate there with my wife and a friend and they brought out a small plate that was supposed to serve all 3 of us. Anyone else experiencing this? Is it because they were over-serving us before? Are the ingredients becoming difficult to find?

A.

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If I could make one more request, it would be a photo of the shop front/signage (to help with locating these places from the street).

You mean having an address and seeing the word "Pho" on the storefront isn't enough? Wow, I thought I was directionaly challenged :raz:

Something I've been noticing at my usual Pho haunts is a decrease in the amount of Thai basil and bean sprouts served. Even at Kim Phung ... last time I ate there with my wife and a friend and they brought out a small plate that was supposed to serve all 3 of us. Anyone else experiencing this? Is it because they were over-serving us before? Are the ingredients becoming difficult to find?

A.

I've been noticing that, too and having enough basil is very important to a good bowl of pho. Maybe it's because of the changing seasons?

So, besides Kim Phung, care to share any of these haunts, or are they best left a secret?

Jason

Editor

EatVancouver.net

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If I could make one more request, it would be a photo of the shop front/signage (to help with locating these places from the street).

You mean having an address and seeing the word "Pho" on the storefront isn't enough? Wow, I thought I was directionaly challenged :raz:

I prefer to look for signage rather street numbers when doing my pho drive-bys. That way I'm less likely to whack innocent pedestrians.

I often ask for more condiments (basil, bean sprouts, limes) at some pho places. I've never been refused, nor have I ever been charged extra.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Something I've been noticing at my usual Pho haunts is a decrease in the amount of Thai basil and bean sprouts served.  Even at Kim Phung ... last time I ate there with my wife and a friend and they brought out a small plate that was supposed to serve all 3 of us.  Anyone else experiencing this?  Is it because they were over-serving us before?  Are the ingredients becoming difficult to find?

A.

Yeah me too. Bean sprouts not so much of a scarcity but the basil is outright missing in most of my favorite spots. This is really sad actually. I love the basil. My question is, how do you guys eat your noodles with basil? I've noticed a surprising number of Vietnamese people in Pho places take the basil leaf and eat it directly then follow it up with a mouthful of noodles bathed in hot sauce or oyster sauce. Interesting. I like to put my basil into my soup. I assumed this was what most people did :raz:

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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a reputable vietnamese friend advised me to go to "Pho Thai" (no Hoa), and said that it was near the intersection where Kingsway met Main and Broadway and across the street from Kingsgate Mall. i was unable to find it via google, but does he mean Pho Thai Hoa? :blink:

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  • 9 months later...
a reputable vietnamese friend advised me to go to "Pho Thai" (no Hoa), and said that it was near the intersection where Kingsway met Main and Broadway and across the street from Kingsgate Mall.  i was unable to find it via google, but does he mean Pho Thai Hoa:blink:

It is Pho Thai (no Hoa) and it is just past the intersection on the north side. The entrance is a bit weird -- you think the door is one place and that the resto is closed, then you go a bit further east and that's the real doorway. We went in late spring on our on-going quest to replace the late lamented Pho Thang Long formerly on Main where Zipang Sushi now lives. (Moment of silence). Anyway, we had heard Pho Thai had good pho also. It has average pho, based on one visit. I would likely not seek it out again because of the volume of diners and the somewhat off-handed service in a typically bleak venue. This was not helped by our table being right by the door. May the Phorce be with you (sorry, couldn't resist, and as noted upthread this really bad pun also relies on a deliberate mispronunciation).

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There are certainly better bets for Vietnamese food.

What about non-Pho? I agree that the pho in Vancouver is not so hot - but it was so nice to a good plate of fresh herbs with the nicely charred pork at Pho Thai Hoa. The lentil pancake was also nice - crispy and grease free.

I have'nt had this kind of Vietnamese food in a long while - any specific pointers for something better (again - non Pho) would be nice to hear about.

I may be going a bit off topic here but we just came back from Pho Thai Hoa, having decided to try it based on an admittedly old post from Canucklehead but also other reviews elsewhere. Granted we did not have pho (went for rice/bun dishes instead) but had heard pretty good things about the non-pho so figured it was worth the chance. Things started out a bit rocky with serious lack of English on waitron's part but she was pleasant and item numbers were in place and seeminlgy understood so no harm no foul so far. Took a too-longish time to get the Significant Engineer's main of rice, lemongrass chicken and shredded pork. Strike one. Notice I said main (he got that before the salad roll). Strike two. My main and the salad roll arrived significantly post SE's main. Strike three. SE's main did not actually contain shredded pork, and the chicken was just okay. Strike four. My main was pork brochette and spring roll on vermicelli. Pork was fatty, stringy and dry all at once, and was all in one giant lump. Big strike five. The final coup de grace: the noodles were so greasy from something they were verging on inedible. Too many strikes. On the bright side, the salad roll was really tasty and fresh, and my lemonade was good. Total bill $23 and change, which seemed high for the lack of quality... the search continues for a good all round Vietnamese resto to replace our beloved but unpronounceable old fave at Fraser and Kingsway (still there but has changed hands). Feeling like we should give Pho Thai Hoa another chance to be fair but life is short and Vietnamese venues are many...

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I was at Pho Thai Hoa over the summer and had similar service issues (but had no complaints about the food). There were 6 of us and we all ordered pho and shared some of their spring rolls (1 fried, 2 fresh). The spring rolls were all delicious, even (maybe especially?) the fried one, which isn't something I'm normally too keen on. The pho was also very good, the best I've had in Vancouver thus far even. I needed to ask for extra bean sprouts, basil, and lime, but that wasn't an issue.

However... bringing the food out in an orderly fashion was an issue. Pho does not take notoriously long to prepare and serve (I mean, the rare beef cooks IN THE BOWL...). Yet, there were unbearably long lags between bowls being served; nearly 10 minutes between first and last... communication with our server was challenging, but not terrible. They also rolled up the blinds across the room after they served our soup and never came back to talk to us, so we just dealt with the evening sun shining in our eyes (wearing sunglasses indoors while eating pho does make you look cool though).

I've always expected that a viatnamese place either does pho very well or all the other food very well, but never both. I thought Pho Thai Hoa was the rebuttal to that, but now perhaps not. I'll have to go back and try more of the non-pho items beyond spring rolls.

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I'm no Pho expert, but I keep going back to Thai Hang at 2122 E. Hastings. I go once a week almost, and it is always rockin at lunch. I've tried others, but they aren't the same to me. It's the broth I love.

There are also two more places one block to the east. Of those two, I prefer the one towards the eastern end of that block.

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I'm no Pho expert, but I keep going back to Thai Hang at 2122 E. Hastings.  I go once a week almost, and it is always rockin at lunch.  I've tried others, but they aren't the same to me.  It's the broth I love. 

There are also two more places one block to the east.  Of those two, I prefer the one towards the eastern end of that block.

I was there last weekend for their noodles and lemon grass chicken. The noodle was good but the lemon grass chicken is why my family keeps going there.

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  • 5 months later...
If I could make one more request, it would be a photo of the shop front/signage (to help with locating these places from the street).

You mean having an address and seeing the word "Pho" on the storefront isn't enough? Wow, I thought I was directionaly challenged :raz:

Something I've been noticing at my usual Pho haunts is a decrease in the amount of Thai basil and bean sprouts served. Even at Kim Phung ... last time I ate there with my wife and a friend and they brought out a small plate that was supposed to serve all 3 of us. Anyone else experiencing this? Is it because they were over-serving us before? Are the ingredients becoming difficult to find?

A.

Quick bump to say that Kim Phung is now our fave pho palace. We've been meaning to try it for ages after having read all the kudos here, but kept getting sucked into Dona Cata for tacos whenever we were out Victoria and 41st-ish way.

/Aside: on the way home we noticed that the original Dona Cata space was empty and for lease but we had only mourned for a block and a half when we spotted the new expanded premises they have evidently moved into since we last visited. Phew./

Today we went with pho in our crosshairs, and pho we got. J went for the spicy broth pho tai as recommended by Arne and others, while I opted for the classic pho tai. Both were excellent, with rich broth, super thin slices of beef and most excellently, bits of cilantro, a thing I have not experienced since eating pho in Montreal. Happy now. Also sampled their lemonade (which is really limeade) and found it excellent. The small pho is still $5.50 which made us chuckle when we realized our drinks at $4 were only slightly cheaper than our meal. If you just had tea and pho, you'd be outta there for $11 before tip since tax is included. Ridiculously cheap. We'll be back.

Edited by grayelf (log)
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We'll be back.

And we were. Exactly one week later. With another pho friend who confirmed the worthiness of the pho tai. And did I mention it has cilantro :wub:

I scanned up - thread but didn't notice if your experience includes Au Petit Cafe. Is Kim Phung better? Admittedly the REAL reason I go to Au Petit is for the bhan mi, but the pho isn't bad either.

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We'll be back.

And we were. Exactly one week later. With another pho friend who confirmed the worthiness of the pho tai. And did I mention it has cilantro :wub:

I scanned up - thread but didn't notice if your experience includes Au Petit Cafe. Is Kim Phung better? Admittedly the REAL reason I go to Au Petit is for the bhan mi, but the pho isn't bad either.

Au Petit definitely has a presence on this thread, and I have partaken of their offerings. It's been a while since I tried their pho but Kim Phung is superior I would say. If you're feeling adventurous, ask for their "spicy broth"; I'm a purist and stick to the regular pho tai but my SO was quite sold on the spicy version. BTW we tried their salad roll on Sunday and it was also pronounced good by thems that knows (I'm not a huge s.r. fan so dassn't judge).

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hey, i'm glad you like it!  phodown 2.0 is on - we did vong gac recently.

Awesome! Will you be posting any results on eGullet or should we be going "elsewhere" (that is a hint to post a linky to your site in case you missed it :biggrin: ).

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Everyone loves a good old fashioned Pho Down!

I'm excited to see the article! How do the places get on the shortlist for a visit?

I know my criteria weighs heavily on, of course, the soup but also the freshness of the basil. The basil for me is key. The Cilantro falls just behind that.

Edited by fud (log)

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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We'll be back.

And we were. Exactly one week later. With another pho friend who confirmed the worthiness of the pho tai. And did I mention it has cilantro :wub:

I scanned up - thread but didn't notice if your experience includes Au Petit Cafe. Is Kim Phung better? Admittedly the REAL reason I go to Au Petit is for the bhan mi, but the pho isn't bad either.

A cousin told me a story about a funny incident at Au Petit Cafe. She and a friend went to have bahn mi there, only to be told by the owner that they'd run out for the day. It was still fairly early in the day, 11am or so, so they thought it was odd that they'd run out so quickly. So they asked the owner if he'd run out of the buns (they were planning to have another dish that came with the bun). He said no, they still had buns. They said, "Oh ok, great, so you CAN make bahn mi! We don't mind waiting!" To which the owner replied, "No, because my daughter is the one who slices the buns. She can only slice so many buns in a day because her wrist gets tired and she can't slice anymore!" The cousin & her friend were too floored to reply! :wacko:

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I guess I'll have to visit. But, uh, how is the bhan mi at Kim Phung?

As we've only been twice with pho as the phocus (oh, somebody stop me), we haven't tried other items apart from the lone salad roll. Anyone else out there up on the sarnies at Kim Phung?

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Everyone loves a good old fashioned Pho Down!

I'm excited to see the article!  How do the places get on the shortlist for a visit?

I know my criteria weighs heavily on, of course, the soup but also the freshness of the basil. The basil for me is key.  The Cilantro falls just behind that.

It's true, every once in a while, the world just needs a phodown. A bit of phodown triva for you: I often get flack because the traditional pronunciation of pho (fuh) makes the pun we are going for rather pointless. That's a valid point, of course, but who really pronounces it correctly anyway?

Anyway, I'm a broth man myself, but we also give points for beef, noodles, condiments (basil weighs in heavily) and general service and atmosphere. The points are broken down into categories so you can pay more attention to what interests you.

We go to places based on reader recommendation, e-gullet searches, and sometimes just driving around Hastings, Kingsway and Fraser. I am always on the lookout for a hot pho tip, so all of your comments are definitely valuable to me!

Jason

Editor

EatVancouver.net

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