What does McDonald’s, bubble tea, and pho joints have in common? That is, other than being places where I spent way too much time as a teen? They have stamp cards! Well, at least they do at Cafe Mai Mai which is where we went on the completely un-significant date of July 4th. Although we didn’t celebrate private healthcare and cultural melting pots, we did have special guests Pho-armacist and SleepyPho!
Cafe Mai Mai is located in south Granville near 70th Ave, and happens to be the old location of an interesting Japanese-Italian fusion cafe, evidenced by photoshopped photos of Vancouver, ads for chai tea lattes (not available for order) and…uh stock pictures in photo frames?
But we aren’t put off by the decor. We’ve been to dives where the decor was much… Dirtier. So this place was quite nice and clean by comparison. Cafe Mai Mai also makes all food and dessert in-house, which led us to have pretty high expectations as Mr. Red Cafe also made everything in-house and we enjoyed the pho there quite a bit.
Service was friendly, and generally quite good although they did forget Sleepypho’s order. But this was a minor complaint. Once we got our bowls of pho we dug right in.
The portions were healthy, and came nicely presented. The (meat) balls were tasty and the beef was generally tender, although we noticed that those that got their bowls later found their “medium rare” meat to have become overcooked. The noodles were also overcooked, leaving them with a softish, limp texture. Now, Cafe Mai Mai advertises that they didn’t use MSG in their broth and it showed. It came hot, with a good beefiness to it, and although it was darker in colour, it had a light taste which our members said, could be improved with… Well, to be honest, some MSG.
The sides came with the usual suspects, but the chili peppers were noticeably missing. The spring rolls were nicely crisped but lacked much texture internally. The mango smoothie was also a bit disappointing with weak mango flavour and a watery consistency.
Cafe Mai Mai has a pretty good premise: food made in-house, no msg, and a loyalty program. While the sides were a little bit of a miss, the pho was solid with good quality beef.
Here’s our review of the pho!
Sm: $7.95 Lg: $8.95
Beef: healthy portion. Tender, good quality.
Noodles: soft, bit overcooked.
Broth: beefy but a bit light.
MSG amount: none.
Presentation: 3 out of 4.
Overall: 7.4 out of 10