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Best Pho in Vancouver


cabrales
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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!

Thanks for the lowdown on the Phodown (oh, really, please, somebody STOP me). BTW I love that the pun is that it is based on a mispronunciation, in fact I'm down with that... oh damn...

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I get different pronunciations from different friends:

"fuh" is the most common but I also get "fah" and "fu-uh" like you extend the "u" sound and move it up and octave as you say it.

I'm still working on "Cha Gao". every time I order it the waitresses laugh at me.

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

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I get different pronunciations from different friends:

"fuh" is the most common but I also get "fah" and "fu-uh" like you extend the "u" sound and move it up and octave as you say it. 

I'm still working on "Cha Gao".  every time I order it the waitresses laugh at me.

The waitron at Kim Phung was so very pleasant that I dared asked how to pronounce it and I got "fah" but I'm still a bit flustered when pronouncing it and tend to fall back on the obviously incorrect "pho" -- just too white I guess :rolleyes:

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Here is the link to the pronounciation from wikipedia:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/59/Pho.ogg

They actually discuss pronounciation on the wikipedia page as well, and say, "...make an English /o/ sound but not round the lips."

Hey Vancouver!

On your kind recommendation, we hit

"Hai Phong - 1242 Kingsway - My favourite pho in Vancouver. They also have Vietnamese hotpots."

It was about 1:30 on Sat and the place was slammed. This obvious popularity was a good thing, as our first impressions were a bit bleak: strip mall, bare bones, not super clean looking. Took a while to get seated and menued but that may have been because of the volume of humans. We all decided on pho tai to establish a benchmark and because the rest of the menu was a bit daunting. We did notice a table next to us digging into one of the hotpots you mentioned and it looked and smelled great -- maybe more of a dinner option for us?? Anyway, the pho appeared in a fairly timely fashion and our first observation was that it smelled quite different than the phos we are used to. There was a decidedly non-savoury tang to it and by that I don't mean unsavoury but rather a spice that we usually associate with sweet things, kinda cinnamony. Our fears were assuaged by the taste however, in that this unidentified spice did not telegraph in the eating. Everyone gave it the thumbs up, although I must admit I still give Kim Phung's pho tai a slight edge. Condiments were great, with lots of very fresh and crunchy sprouts, decent and plentiful basil, and a couple of those gnarly bird chilies plus limes. Noodles were also plentiful and cooked just past al dente which is how I like 'em in pho. I had a delicious glass of lemonade (really limeade) which at $3 was $1 less than Kim Phung. I also note that the pho prices are lower here (the small coming in at a mere $5, the large at $5.75). Service was as noted a bit scattered and we were slightly disappointed to discover they don't have the steamed "rolls" that we like (chopped up pork and mushrooms inside, served with what can only be described as Vietnamese bologne). Given the price, tastiness of the pho, convenience of location and possibilities for further menu exploration, I suspect we will be back.

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Glad you liked it! It can get very very crowded on weekends. Seems like almost a community meeting centre for parts of the Vietnamese community as frequently people at all the different tables know each other!

Venture out to some of their other soups as well, and you will get a whole different set of fresh condiments with some Vietnamese herbs you might not find at many other places.

Normally the times I have been there (and there have been many) the service is very efficient and friendly. Seems like you might have hit a really slammed time though.

Cheers!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was talked into going to Vina on Denman , and I learned a lesson , by far the worst vietnamese food in vancouver , tasteless pho , no basil , no lime , had to ask repeatedly for sprouts , large bowl would be called a small anywhere else :angry: , in fact I can't really call it vietnamese food , that would be unfair to the culture and cuisine of Vietnam

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I was talked into going to Vina on Denman , and I learned a lesson , by far the worst vietnamese food in vancouver , tasteless pho  , no basil , no lime , had to ask repeatedly for sprouts , large bowl would be called a small anywhere else  :angry: , in fact I can't really call it vietnamese food  , that would be unfair to the culture and cuisine of Vietnam

It sounds like the runner up for Georgia Strait's 2006 golden plate in Vietnamese has had a tough couple of years.

http://www.straight.com/article/2006-reade...e-of-best-0?#29

Edited by eatvancouver (log)

Jason

Editor

EatVancouver.net

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It was bad back then too. I tried it once in 2003. That is an experience I would never hope to repeat. Very similar to what knightafter has reported. It just shows the the GS ratings don't mean much. Don't they also rate Hon's high pretty regularly? :hmmm:

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And one more thing that should have got my alarm bells going : no vietnamese people in the room  :hmmm:

It was a trip to the Vina's on Denman (no longer there) that put me off Vietnamese for many years - feh.

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Vina has decent deep fried squid, that's the only favourite dish we can think of at the moment. Haven't tried their chicken hot pot rice in a long time, should be ok as well. But definitely skip the pho there, not their speciality at all, and the last time we had the shrimp salad roll, the wrapping was too hard (dried up).

What do the pho experts think of Taste of Vietnam on Broadway, West of Oak on the South side?

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Vina has decent deep fried squid, that's the only favourite dish we can think of at the moment.  Haven't tried their chicken hot pot rice in a long time, should be ok as well.  But definitely skip the pho there, not their speciality at all, and the last time we had the shrimp salad roll, the wrapping was too hard (dried up).

What do the pho experts think of Taste of Vietnam on Broadway, West of Oak on the South side?

I certainly don't qualify as a pho expert but my experience has been that the other menu items are superior, and what we usually go for. The pho, while by no means bad, seems to lack a bit of depth, although I understand it is cooked for many hours. We really like this little spot, the owner and staff are great, and they have an egg based item there (sorry, can't think of the name) that's a real favourite of the SO. I am addicted to their meatball brochette...

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  • 1 month later...
<snip>

The owners have a location in Richmond - Green Lemongrass - that looks perhaps too slick.  I have not been - perhaps someone else has.

Green Lemongrass is actually now my favourite pho place, which is lucky since I live in Richmond now. Very good broth, just the right amount of vermicelli (I hate pho where you get a bowl of noodles with a little broth thrown in), good quantity of extras (I usually go for the pho tai nam gan sach), and all the rest of the dishes there are top notch as well. And very reasonable $ to boot. Highly recommend. Too bad they don't make sandwiches. Does anyone know a good vietnamese sandwich place in Richmond?

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  • 2 weeks later...
Song Huong opened a second restaurant at Nanaimo and 1st

Do you recommend their pho Knightafter?

I went to the restaurant that previously occupied that location and was turned off because they allowed patrons to smoke. I didn't stay to eat.

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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The place that was there before closed quite a while ago , the new Song Huong is related to their first place at Nanaimo and Broadway

Both are excellent , friendly service , very good prices

Thanks Knightafter. I just realized that Song Huong was my family's favorite Pho place...but we just called it "that place across from Bon's".

Our family went to the new location today - we ordered four Pho Tai...very good and very cheap. Their deep fried rolls were not too good - new oil, fryer was set too low. They had killer Lime Sodas. I'd go for just those on a hot summer's day.

The place is very clean and neat - impressively so. This may be my family's new go-to pho joint since it is about a 10min walk to it from our house.

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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fmed/Knightafter: could you clarify whether there are now two locations of Song Huong (and if so, where exactly is the original?) or is it just the Nanaimo and First location?

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