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If you were to guess where the capital of pho in Vancouver would be, you’d probably guess somewhere along Kingsway, or perhaps East Vancouver. However, if you were to guess where the location of Pho Capital is, the correct answer is smack dab in the middle of Koreatown in Burquitlam. Located in a strip mall with (seriously) ample parking, Pho Capital took the place of a wine-making store, which is good for us, since we’re not here for wine, we’re here for the pho!

Seriously ample parking

Other than the large parking lot, the first thing we noticed upon entering was how clean the interior was. Service was quick and friendly, and the menu even had descriptive photos!

For the new and conPHOOsed

For the new and conPHOOsed

Our food orders came out super quick. So quick, in fact, that in some cases, the fried rolls were almost too hot to eat. But we soldiered through. The fried rolls skins were nice and crispy, although the filling was a bit on the bland side, the texture had a satisfying mixture of soft and crunch. Sides included the usual bean sprouts, Thai basil leaves, lime wedges, and gigantic jalapeño slices. Seriously, these were huge. But these were merely side characters, on to the pho!

Gigantic jalePHOnos

Gigantic jalePHOnos

Pho come in small and large sizes, with a copious portions of beef. The tendon were tender, and one member described them as “delicious”, although the brisket was merely “okay, but not great”. The noodles were on the softer side, and the broth was light and clear, but had good depth of flavour.

Good meat to noodle ratios

Good meat to noodle ratios

Here’s our review of the pho!

Small: $7.40 Large: 8.40
Beef: copious amounts of beef, though some had different noodle-to-beef ratios
Noodles: soft
Broth: clear, light, flavorful. Medium amount of MSG.
Presentation:  2 out of 4

Overall:  7 out of 10

Pho Capital on Urbanspoon

In our last post, we showed you the back-to-school quiz our members took. And here is the answer key!

  1. Vietnam
    Bonus: North
  2. F’UH
  3. Pork
  4. Rice
  5. “Noodles”, or “Fire”
    Bonus: Chinese or French
  6. France
  7. Chicken & Beef
  8. Thai Basil
  9. Sweet Basil
  10. A. Hanoi, B. Saigon, C. Saigon
  11. Central

How did you do? Let us know in the comments!

Pho-ology 101

Did you know that Pho came from Vietnam? Of course you did! But can you answer the other questions that our pholicious members had to on our Back To School Pho Quiz?

  1. In which country did PHO originate? (You better know this one…)
    A. Bonus point: What region did it originate from? (pick one)
    North  /  Central  /  South
  2. How do you pronounce PHO? (pick one)
    F’UH /  PUH-HO  /  F’OW  /  FO  /  FOO
  3. What is NOT in traditional PHO? (pick one)
    Noodles /  Broth  /  Spices  /  Beef   /  Chicken  /  Pork
  4. What type of noodles is in PHO? (pick one)
    Rice /  Wheat  /  Tapioca  /  Buckwheat
  5. What does the word PHO mean?
    A. Bonus point: where did the word originate from?
  6. Where did PHO broth originate from?
  7. What are the two traditional types of meat used in PHO broth?
  8. What garnishes are NOT part of Saigon PHO? (pick one)
    Sweet Basil /  Onions  /  Chili  /  Cilantro  /  Bean Sprouts
  9. Which spice is NOT in PHO broth? (pick one)
    Saigon Cinnamon /  Star Anise  /  Ginger  /  Black Cardamom  /  Clove  /  Thai  Basil
  10. Compare between northern (Hanoi) and southern (Saigon) PHO, which one has:
    A. Thicker noodles?
    B. Sweeter broth?
    C. More herbs?
  11. Bonus point: What region does Bun Bo Hue come from? (pick one)
    North /  Central  /  South
Pho-ology 101
Pho-ology 101

Here’s how our pholicious members did:

  1. Killer Pho
  2. Phonatic
  3. Pho Dac Biet & Evileye Pho (tie)
  4. Phosicist
  5. Count Pho

Here’s the answer key!

How did you do on our quiz? Let us know in the comments!

Pholicious 94-Pho Ngan

It’s September, and that means: BACK TO SCHOOL PHO! Well all right, not every student is back in school just yet, but no teacher’s strike is going to stop us from eating pho. In fact, we’re going to a place that even has student specials!

phongan-sandwich

Pho combos and specials

It’s been a while since most of us were in school (although some of us never left). But even if we didn’t have student budgets anymore, we still had student sensibilities. Pho-od combos? Yes please! The student+senior combo came with a small bowl of pho, with a spring roll, while the Pho Combo came with a regular bowl of pho, your choice of appetizers, and a drink. It bears mentioning though, that the description for the student special on the menus themselves weren’t accurate, and even the price was different (bleh).

Following the back-to-school theme, we even had a pho pop quiz!

Pho-ology 101

Pho-ology 101

Despite the school-themed festivities, we were there for one reason: pho! Pho Ngan is situated on Fraser street just south of 41st, across the street from John Oliver Secondary School. The interior was cozy, with paintings of Vietnamese farm life on the walls. Despite it being a hot and sunny day, ventilation was quite good, with big windows letting in a fair amount of natural light.

photo 3 (1)

Interior! Quiet at first..

Service was pretty good when we first arrived, with tea and menus being distributed quickly, but as the restaurant filled up, service suffered as it seemed that there was only one server. We eventually got our orders, although there were a few mix-ups, but the pho arrived first, then appetizers, then finally our drink orders. While tea was never refilled, there was a self-serve water cooler available – which our members liked quite a bit.

Regular pho, and student-sized pho.

Regular pho, and student-sized pho.

The portion sizes were larger than average, but the ratio of meat was inconsistent, with lots of brisket, and very little tripe or tendon. The quality of the beef was okay, although one member remarked that the brisket tended to be on the tougher side, although the tendon was soft. The noodles, though generous in size, were a bit over done and as a result, clumped together at the bottom of the bowl. The broth wasn’t quite as hot as we’d like it, lacked depth, and was over-seasoned, which may have been due to the higher than average amount of MSG. It’s also notable that we found slices of ginger floating in some of our bowls, which was missed by their strainer.

Sides.. for 4.

Garnishes came with the typical beansprouts, Thai basil leaves, and limes, which, although serviceable, was a bit lacklustre and on the small side for some of our members. 

The spring rolls had a crispy skin, had a good ratio of filling to skin, and was tasty over all, but it was a bit over-fried. The lemongrass chicken skewer was notably moist and tender, with good flavour.

Surprisingly, our iced coffee and tea orders came back in to-go cups already made, instead of the traditional Vietnamese drip brewers, which was disappointing. The coffee was strong, but also seemed to be on the sweet side with some off-taste with the condensed milk.

Pre-packaged vietnamese coffee

Pre-packaged vietnamese coffee

Here’s our review of the pho!

Regular: $7.00; Combo (+appetizer & drink): $9.99; Student Combo (+spring roll): $5.50
Beef: healthy portion, though inconsistent in quantity
Noodles: overcooked, clumpy
Broth: lacked depth, over-seasoned, medium-to-high MSG level
Presentation:  2 out of 4

Overall:  5 out of 10

Pho Ngan on Urbanspoon

We’re back pho-lks! This week we decided to try Thai Hang on Hastings in the Granview-Woodland area of Vancouver. In fact, our Pho-president was so excited about this pholicious meeting that she showed up a week early! But despite the confusion over the meeting date (ahem, that she herself set, ahem), we assembled together at the correct time and date and got down to the serious business of eating pho.

The interior of Thai Hang is fairly large, with a double-unit storefront on the north side of Hastings. Situated between a newly-opened Malaysian-ey Chinese restaurant and a TV repair shop, the interior was clean, well-lit and somewhat tropical with pictures of palm trees out front and a tiki bar(?)-style cashier area. Service was accommodating (even when we needed to add seats for additional members), although having most of the restaurant empty on a rainy morning likely helped. Having all of the utensils and sauces already on the table also made it easier to get all of our personal pho-eating equipment.

With that said, the pho arrived quickly with all of the usual sides of beansprouts, lime wedges, and cilantro leaves. Overall we found the noodles to be a tad overcooked, with not much springiness or “bite” to them. Sadly the broth was also under-seasoned and lacked depth, which was unfortunately exacerbated by being on the lukewarm side by the time we received it. The beef quality and quantity was average, but the variety was notably lacking in the house special which came with minimal beef balls and no tendon/tripe, which led us to wonder if we simply received rare beef phos in lieu. Presentation was serviceable, but not notable.

Pho comes in either Small ($6.50) or Large ($7.50), although if you also order a spring roll/cold drink/dessert, you might as well get the large since combo pricing ($9) essentially makes it the same price.

It’s also notable that they offered us complimentary dessert.

Sadly we were so out of pho-practice that we forgot to take pho-tos! Pho shame!!

Here’s our review of the pho!

Small: $6.50 Large: $7.50 Combo: $9
Beef: average, but lacking variety
Noodles: tad overcooked
Broth: lacked depth and seasoning
Presentation: 2 out of 4

Overall: 5 out of 10

Thai Hang Vietnamese Restaurant 輝記牛肉粉 on Urbanspoon
 

Our little club has been growing, and not just waist sizes. One of our members (the littlest PHOllower) has actually grown up noticeably!

We're all not-so-little anymore..

We’re all not-so-little anymore..

This week we got the whole crew out to Thai’s Saigon Bistro on Hastings in the Burnaby Heights area. Converted from a old greasy spoon burger joint, this place has been renovated and spruced up, and is now clean and modern-looking, with comfortable seating, flat-screen TVs, with photos  which are actually pho-related (and in Ikea frames!).

Clean and sparkly!

Clean and sparkly!

On to the pho! The pho came with a light and well-balanced broth, with a fair portion of beef, fresh beef balls, and al dente noodles. Overall the portion was between fair-large, and the presentation was about average.

Phoooooooooo

Phoooooooooo

Sides included small but powerful chilies, green chili, limes, and some basil that didn’t look that fresh. All of the sides also came on nice clean white square plates, and the water glasses were tilted, which caused one member to remark that they were “cool”.

The tilt makes it look faster

The tilt makes it look faster

Service was prompt and friendly, and one member even remarked that this place was “the best in North Burnaby,” which I’d definitely agree with.

“Best in North Burnaby!”

Here’s our review of the pho!

Regular Sm: $7.50 Lg: $8 Special: $8
Beef: fair portion with fresh beef balls
Noodles: al dente
Broth: light, and well-balanced
Presentation: 2 out of 4

Overall: 7.5 out of 10

Thai's Saigon Bistro on Urbanspoon

It’s been a while since we had gotten an official pholicious meeting, and what better reason than celebrating Saint Paddy’s day? My request for green pho, was ignored. We wanted to revisit Lan Anh Quán in Vancouver on Victoria and 34th, but it turns out they were closed! Instead we hit up Lam Hoa Quan across the street.

Neon..

Neon..

Arriving on a lazy Saturday morning, our crew took up a couple of tables along the side. The interior had a definite “cozy” and eclectic feel, with one TV tuned perpetually to comedies, and a second TV perpetually turned.. off. The menus were a bit beat up, although there were nicer versions of the menus underneath the table glass. It was notable that all dry vermicelli dishes had an extra $1 cost.

Eclectic!

Eclectic!

Service was only “okay”. The tea came “tepid, like Beansproutpho” in a teapot that was noticeably dirty. The tea, unfortunately (or fortunately?) didn’t get refilled. But, my dear phollowers, you know that we’re not here for the decor, or even the tea. We’re here for the pho!

Dirty teapot!

Dirty teapot!

The pho came in only one size, and it was of an average size for most pho portions. The presentation had a cut-up piece of ginger on top, which was not appreciated by everyone. There were only a few small pieces of well-done flank and meat slices, which were of soso quality. Much of the meat was minced, in a northern Vietnamese style, but wasn’t particularly liked by many of our members. The meat balls were merely “okay,” and the noodles came in a clump at the bottom of the bowl, although they still spread apart and didn’t break up. The broth was a bit sour, and didn’t have the usual beefy smell, or flavour.

Minced meat

Minced meat

The sides included limes, chillies and purple onions. The spring rolls came with large floury globs, although orange juice was good and fresh.

Floury spring rolls

Floury spring rolls

Here’s our review of the pho!

One size: $7.45
Beef: mostly minced, with small pieces of so-so quality beef slices and flank
Noodles: clumpy
Broth: not very flavourful, a bit sour, average MSG
Presentation: 1 out of 4

Overall: 6.5 out of 10
Lam Hoa Quan on Urbanspoon

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