There’s two foods that I could eat every day: pho, and French food. Perhaps because pho has such a strong French influence that it’s no surprise, but I’ve never been able to eat at a place that legitimately combines the two. That is, until I heard about Cafe Linh. Chef Tai Nguyen grew up in Vietnam before relocating to Vancouver where he trained in French kitchens until he decided to open up his own place that combined his training with his heritage. When phodacbiet (our barometer of Viet-legit-ness) told us to go check this place out, we went.
As a Vietnamese restaurant, Linh Cafe was quite clean, well-lit, and “hipstery”. That was an anomaly in the dingy, grungy, and tacky decor that is de rigueur amongst pho restaurants. The french influences were evident with a display case full of french pastries, although the house-made chili sauce was inherently vietnamese.
But we’re here for the pho, and although they only had two varieties of pho on the menu (vegetarian and beef), we found it to be full of flavour. Despite the northern roots, this pho included thick chunks of tender beef instead of the typical minced beef. The broth was sublime, where the slight sweetness balanced with the mild lemongrass. The flat noodles, though thicker than normal, were a bit on the softer side, but otherwise didn’t detract from the overall excellent pho.
Since it is northern-style, the pho did not come with the bean sprouts that are standard with Saigon-style pho. The spring rolls had rice-paper wrappings that were nicely puffed, with only mild chewiness. The filling had a decent texture, and wasn’t too dense. Overall a solid spring roll.
Here’s our review of the pho!
One size: $12.99
Beef: decent portion, thick, tender and beefy
Noodles: flat, thick, a little soft.
Broth: Really good broth, depth-y, slightly sweet.
MSG amount: average.
Presentation: 3 out of 4
Overall: 8.75 out of 10