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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

Do you know what broken rice is? It’s when uncooked rice gets bashed around until all you’re left with is little nubs of rice, which you can then use to make rice noodles.. At least, that’s what I think it is. It also happens to be the name of the pho restaurant that we went to in December!

Located in North Burnaby in the Heights area, the restaurant’s exterior decor was quite modern with a faux-brick edifice, dark wood accents, and back-lit sign.  The interior continued the dark wood accents, and contained some “nice pictures.” One of our members even remarked upon the wideness of the seats, which, obviously, aids in the consumption of more pho.

Nice pictures.

The service was attentive, and the menu contained some “interesting fusion items”, including duck confit sliders, cassava fries, and featured regular specialties. The spring rolls were very crispy, the beef carpacio was tender and came in a flavorful garlic shallot sauce. Overall, everything was made with good quality ingredients. But, alas, we are not here for the side items, we’re here for the pho!

The pho came very well-presented, and had pretty good portions. There was also a good amount of beef slices, which were all good quality. Noodles were firm, and the broth was flavorful, but came with too much MSG, which really affected its score.

The sides came on one giant plate. The usuals were there: cilantro, sour leaf, basil, lime, and sprouts. It was notable that sauces did not come in the big bottles that you usually see either.

Here’s our review of the pho!

Regular Sm: $7 Lg:  $8
Beef: good quality and portion
Noodles: firm
Broth: good flavor, but too much MSG
Presentation: 4 out of 4

Overall: 7 out of 10

Broken Rice on Urbanspoon

Do you remember what a simile is? It’s where you compare one thing to another in order to hopefully better explain what it’s like. Do you know what an extreme simile is? It’s where you describe something as EXTREME!! Or something like that. My knowledge of English grammar definition is like a Vietnamese coffee press. Yeah, just let that simmer for a while.

Neon Green Chopsticks!

Neon Green Chopsticks!

Anyways! Last November we went to Pho EXTREME Xe Lua, at the very convenient location on Broadway just near Main in Vancouver.  The decor was surprisingly modern, with nice wooden floors, black furnishings contrasted against white walls, ‘nice’ photos on the walls, and a ‘semi-nice’ bathroom. This particular location has less neon than the previous location, other than the neon-green chopsticks, leading one of our members to declare, “this is a CLASSY PLACE.”

“This is a CLASSY PLACE.”

But we’re not here for the decor, we’re here for the pho! The bowls came in three sizes: Small, Large and Extra Large. Which is good, because the small was declared “too small”, the Large was “not too big”, which leads me to assume that the Extra Large is “just right.” Beef slices were nice and thin, and one member described them as “firm, like my abs,” although they could have used a bit more. The noodles had good firmness, and were described as “tender, like my personality.” There was lots of soup in the bowl, but unfortunately it was only so-so, and a bit bland, with a high level of MSG, although one person declared it as a GOOD level of MSG. Presentation of pho rated only an average of 2 out of 4 (no more similes to personality traits, I promise).

Small and Large

Small and Large

The usual sides were there, green jalapenos, limes, basil and sprouts. Service was pretty good, polite, attentive and the owner was nice. One member even bravely declared “WOULD COME BACK.”

“The beef is tender like my personality. The noodles are firm, like my abs.”

Here’s our review of the Pho!

Regular Sm: $6.50 Lg:  $7.50 XLg: $8.50
Beef: tender, could use a little more
Noodles: nice and firm
Broth: so-so, bland, high MSG
Presentation: 2 out of 4

Overall: 7 out of 10

Pho Extreme Xe Lua Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This week, we end our temporary hiatus to take you pho a revisit of Pho Tan (main street), but this time, with FOUR new members. Our resident club name-dubber jePHOry will be mediating and creating appropriate names PHOr them (some suggestions are: bbPHO, vegPHOtarian, PHO Chaud, and ghettoPHObulous).

And to commemorate these new members, this Pholicious meeting is also known as,

“I was there before the hipsters” Pho.

-ghettoPHObulous

We had been to this Pho Tan location a few years ago, and we had decent score for the phood and décor. Since that original visit, our members have since visited the Pho Tan in Burnaby (good food) and the Pho Tan in Surrey (one member declared loudly that it was “ghetto PHObulous!”). This time, when we arrived we were seated promptly at a large table for our group of 10. The French-inspired décor hasn’t changed much since our first visit, although our members noted that this location still has one of the nicest “photeriors” – with great lighting, making it ideal for pho-dates, as it isn’t harsh on the face.

Pho Tan Spring Rolls!

Service was prompt and eager, with the bonus of they left a large carafe of water so that we could keep our many glasses of cold water filled.

On top of that, there was A/C (cool!), the bottles were still in the faux bamboo wall (nostalgic?), even the flooring impressed (classy). It’s also notable that there was also a wedding photo mounted on the wall by Fantasy Wedding Photographers of a very intense bride and groom. Definitely a great conversation piece.

However, my dear readers, you know that we’re not here for the photeriors, no matter how nice it is. We’re here for the Pho!

Check out the PHOtography!

The pho came fairly quickly after ordering. Portions were healthy, with multiple members even going so far as to call the portions  “perfect” and “just right”. The noodles were thin, but al dente, with a good portion of quality beef. Their specialty soup was a satay soup, which had very good spice/flavor, with just the right amount of heat. MSG amount was low, with only a mild after-thirst.

Sides included the regular fresh bean sprouts, with lots of (quite clean) basil leaves. Their seafood spring rolls got two thumbs up from one of our members, with a very crispy exterior on their regular spring rolls (which also came with a healthy amount of fish dipping sauce – bonus!). Sadly there wasn’t any chili hot sauce on the side, but this wasn’t a big deal for our hard-core group!

Here’s our review of the Pho!

Regular Sm: $6.50 Lg:  $7.50
Satay Sm: $7.30 Lg: $8.80
Beef: good quality and portion
Noodles: thin and al dente
Broth: good spice/flavour, with not too much heat
Presentation: 3 out of 4

Overall: 8.5 out of 10

Pho Tan Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

Woah! We’ve been away for a while, but not because we haven’t been regularly seeking out the best Pho in Vancouver! We’ve just been catching up with our reviews and now we’re all caught up!

Sadly we have misplaced Pholicious review sheets from 82-87, but rest assured we’re looking for them, and as soon as we find them, we’ll post ‘em!

In the meanwhile, here’s our latest review from this past weekend: I-was-there-before-the-Hipsters Pho.

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents took you to McDonald’s? You remember ordering the kid’s meal, not because it was a better deal and you cared about your parents’ ability to contribute to your college fund? Oh no, you ordered it because it came with a toy! Well, in the month of October, we gathered the troops and headed to Pho Le.

Located in a cavernous upstairs unit accessible from inside a old-school courtyard in Chinatown, Pho Le is definitely not an easy place to find. However, when we entered, we were welcomed by Christmas lights (..it wasn’t Christmas), fake plants, and a definite “Chinatown chic” vibe to it. The interior was surprisingly large, although it was rather empty at 1pm on a Sunday, with only one other table occupied – that is, unless you count the fruit flies (ick). The emptiness may have also contributed to the temperature (cold), although it was positive that it had long opening hours (9am-8pm) and it had large windows all along the wall gave a view of… well, Chinatown.

But we’re not here for the view, nor the decor, we’re here for the pho!

Pho Le Pho!

The pho came with a good quantity of beef, sliced thin and rare; and the beef balls were good. However, the “well-done flank” pho that one of our members ordered seemed more like just cooked versions of the rare beef slices. That’s not flank! Just like how a kid can tell when you try to substitute a bran cookie for a chocolate chip cookie, we can tell when flank isn’t flank. Grr..

The pho was a bit unusual in that it came with daikon, and the broth was well over-seasoned, leaving a bit of a dry feeling in our mouths. Perhaps that’s from the slightly higher-than-average prices, although there was an extra-value-meal option that came with a spring roll. Unfortunately, that roll came out pretty hard – instead of the crispy and flavourful spring roll we had hoped for.

The usual sides came with the pho: red chili, lime, basil, raw sprouts. Unfortunately there seemed to be a global blight of sprouts here, because they only gave a small portion of sprouts. Service was slow while our orders were being made (perhaps the waiter was also the chef?), which meant it was hard to get more sprouts.

Here’s our review of the Pho!

One size: $7.00-$7.75 (though $-saving combo is offerred)
Beef: good quantity, sliced thin and rare, but “flank” is just well-done beef slices
Noodles: not memorable, average
Broth: very salty
Presentation: not memorable, average

Overall: 6 out of 10

Pho Le on Urbanspoon

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