Pholicious 103-Anh+Chi

Sequels. You’re excited when you hear about them. A followup to a good thing. You want it to be so good, but you’re also afraid that it’s going to be so bad. Anh and Chi is a sequel of sorts: the younger kids following in the footsteps of their parents. But instead of donning the greasy hand-me-down apron and keeping it as-is for the regulars, the kids redid the interior, the menu, and practically everything else in opening Anh and Chi.

Cucumber water. Because, hipster.

Cucumber water. Because, hipster.

With this new change came a much brighter, more modern interior. While Pho Hoang was not dark by any means, Anh and Chi also changed up the traditional bar, replacing it with a large, open bar which would feel right at home at a club or a trendy gastropub, although felt a bit out of place and took up quite a bit of prime seating space – but I guess that’s the Asian in me talking: “More seating! Less waiting!”

New menus, new pho?

New menus, some new, some old pho

We ordered (what else?) pho and Bun Bo Hue, but with a side of fried chicken wings. The wings were over-rendered, almost emaciated,  but packed a decent flavour. The pho was light, very slightly sweet, with a clean finish – but lacked depth. The Bun Bo Hue had a good tasting broth, with just a bit of sweet and spiciness to it. Sadly, the kitchen had run out of tripe, tendon, and pork cheek so almost all of our orders were missing some component – surprising for a first order on a Saturday. Felt like there were some operational issues that still needed working out.

Chickens must have been on a diet.

Chickens must have been on a diet.

Appetizer portions were on the small side, with a (tasty) single spring roll coming in a large arrangement with lettuce, which the server explained should be eaten with the lettuce wrapped around the roll. My coworkers had warned me that their hipster servers might also actually try to teach us how to eat pho, it (sadly) did not happen.

Pho, just like the old one: average.

Pho, just like the old one, only more expensive.

Overall, the pho was just average, and although the appetizers were good, the price-to-portion ratio was on the higher side, which, considering the trendiness, wasn’t too surprising. Anh and Chi is definitely one of the new trendy, “higher-end” (well at least for pho) Vietnamese joints, but just like a sequel, it feels like it doesn’t quite hit the mark as well as the original.

Here’s our review of the pho!

One size: $10-$11
Beef: decent portion, tender brisket, but missing tendon & tripe.
Noodles: soft, broken noodles.
Broth: very slightly sweet, clean finish, not much depth.
MSG amount: average.
Presentation: 2 out of 4

Overall: 7.0 out of 10

Anh and Chi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

Fine Vancouver weather

Fine Vancouver weather

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.

House made chili sauce

House-made chili sauce

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.

Northern-style pho

Northern-style 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.

Spring rolls

Spring rolls

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

Linh Cafe - French Cooking Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Do ever have déjà-vu? You know, Matrix-style where you are somewhere familiar but you swear you’ve never been there before? Song Huong is one of those places, apparently pholicious has been here thrice(!) before, yet all present company can’t remember actually being here. So we are going to revisit and review anew to see if they are as good as pholicious felt it was before!

So we’ve been here before?

The interior of Song Huong is cavernous, with half of the restaurant made up of tables and half diner booths. There’s a large fish tank by the door and a tiki bar in the corner, along with fake vines, decorative vegetables(zucchini and bitter melon) hanging from the ceiling mesh together with the burgundy and torquoise vinyl wallpaper to give it a decidedly eclectic feel.

It’s dark..

Service was quite prompt, and we quickly received menus, tea, and the usual sides once we ordered.  The pho came in two sizes: small and large-but-not-so-large. The beef quality was good, with tender beef slices and nicely firm, though small, pieces of tendon.

The slightly oily pho dac biet

The soup was a slightly less hot than we would prefer, a bit oily, but was full of depth and flavour. The bun bo hue soup was well balanced with the chili accentuating the depth without overpowering the flavour. The noodles were plentiful, although there was a slightly unusual texture to them.

The slightly nicer bun bo hue

The spring rolls were “not bad” although the skin was a bit chewy and soggy in spots, indicating it needed a higher frying temperature.

The not-bad rolls

Overall we enjoyed the pho, the eclectic feel, and the good service. A worthy 4th (apparently) visit!

Here’s our review of the pho!

Sm: $6.50 Lg: $7.50 ($7.95 for bun bo hue)
Beef: decent portions. Tender beef, firm tendons.
Noodles: soft, slightly odd texturally
Broth: good flavour and depth, bun bo hue had great balance of spiciness
MSG amount: above average.
Presentation: 2 out of 4 (3 for the bun bo hue).

Overall: 7.6 out of 10

Song Huong Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ah, autumn. The chill in the air, the changing colours, and, what’s this? The mall isn’t packed and no more kids everywhere? That’s right, it’s back to school time! This September we decided to go to Ha Cafe to celebrate the return of the school year, and the return of the Back-to-Pho quiz!

Seeing as how so many of our members now have advanced degrees, I considered making this year’s test graduate-level, but then again, you have to walk bePHO you can run, so it’s only Pho 201.. But even though half of the questions were from last year’s Pho quiz, there was still a noticeable lack of passing grades. But what do you think this is, SFU? No bell curve here! There’s always summer school..

Pho 201: Studies in Pho

But back to the pho! Ha Cafe is  located on Kingsway, diagonally from Crystal Mall in the Old Orchard strip mall, between a 5-pin bowling alley and a BCLC store. Although it was converted from a diner a couple of years ago, it still has links to its past with western-style soups and sandwiches on the menu, Blue Jays games on the TV, and a decidedly family-run feel.

Ignore the totally-random-people-taking-pictures

Just ignore the totally-random-people-taking-pictures!

Service was relatively quick, although tea refills became nonexistent as we progressed. We also noted the lack of the typical plate of bean sprouts, Thai basil, limes, etc… Such a mystery… (or is it? Cue mysterious music).


Chewy, but not crispy. If only they were cookies.

We started things off with an order of spring rolls. The skins were a bit on the chewier side although they didn’t quite have the crunch that we prefer. The filling was dense with a slight lack of seasoning, but otherwise unnotable.


Spicy Beef Noodle and Soup

For the pho, the noodles were on the soft side, and came with a somewhat lackluster broth that, although on the sweeter side, lacked depth and had an above-average amount of MSG. Portions were healthy, although the the meat was on the fattier side, and beef balls were not up to standards. We were also surprised to finally find the bean sprouts hidden in the bowl underneath the noodles, causing Killerpho to remark that she liked choosing the volume of bean sprouts but instead she was forced to eat a giant clump at the end. What a catastroPHOy!


Special Beef Noodle and Soup

Here’s our review of the pho!

One size: $8.25-8.50
Beef: healthy portion. Fattier, beef balls were sub-par.
Noodles: soft.
Broth: on the sweeter side, but lacked depth.
MSG amount: above average.
Presentation: 2 out of 4.

Overall: 6.3 out of 10

Ha Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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 … err, Pho(?) Mai Mai

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?

Vancouver PHOtography

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.

Stamp cards!


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.

Pho dac biet


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.

Pho tai bo vien


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.

Vegetable spring rolls


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

Click to add a blog post for Cafe Mai-Mai on Zomato

Back in 2005, our president-pho-life Bummiepho started a little club to go around trying the best resPHOrants in Vancouver. Over the next 10 years, she followed this PHOlosophy and visited over 95 restaurants, organized PHOlympics, had PHO-marathons, and even survived a website move (yes, it used to be on Xanga). And now, she’s pursuing her dream of a full-time PHOod PHOtographer in France, so we got the crew together for one last pho with Jo!
Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

To commemorate her last pholicious meet, she picked Mr Red Cafe on Hastings near Nanaimo since it had authentic North Vietnamese cuisine and she missed out the last time we were there. Showing up with 14 people made it a bit tight, but the staff responded gallantly setting us up in the front of the restaurant next to their large array of green plants.
President-for-life getting to work.

President-pho-life getting to work.

While we waited for our PHOod, we quizzed our club members on club trivia. How much do YOU know about Pholicious?
1. What year did Pholicious start? 2005
2. Where was the first meeting (area, or restaurant name)? Pho 66 on Hastings @ Boundary
3. Highest rated place? In the 00’s it was a tie: Pho Hong/Bao Chao (9) in the 10’s: Pho Tam (8.5)
4. Lowest rated place? Gold Train Express (3) or Pho Express Ankor (4)
5. Farthest pho restaurant we reviewed (from Downtown Vancouver)? Pho Tam (33.4km)
6. What will Jo order today? Bun Bo Hue!
We also challenged everyone to take a PHOto of their pho “in the style of Jo” aka instagram-star. And here are some of the results!

evileyepho’s sriracha-J pho

Asymmetrical  mrsbeansprout

mrsbeansprout: square framed, like instagram

killerpho's mickeypho

killerpho’s mickeypho


beansproutpho: “messy pho”

Of course, since this was the last pholicious meetup for our prez for some time, we rated Mr Red Cafe one more time.

The pandan tea was quite nice, with a almost toasted-barley taste to it. While the amount of beef slices were less than other pho joints, the quality of the beef and the soup base made up for it. The garnishes were also noticeably different, which led to a less sweet/more acidic pho, but the clarity of flavour was notable. A fine place to send-off our PHOtastic president!

Here’s our review of the pho!

One Size: $8-$11.50
Beef: Few pieces, but the stewed beef in #15 was extra delicious.
Noodles: thicker noodles in the Bun Bo Hue, standard thin noodles in the pho dac biet. Soft, but not mushy.
Broth: Good depth, with a bit of a sour note in the pho dac biet, could have been hotter.
MSG: medium
Presentation:  2 out of 4

Overall:  7.5 out of 10

Click to add a blog post for Mr. Red Cafe on Zomato

When we first heard about a new Hanoi-style pho restaurant, we thought: “big deal.” After all, we’ve had northern-style pho before, and usually we haven’t been as impressed (see Hanoi Pho or Lam Hoa Quan) with the ingredients or the execution (maybe it’s the Communism). But then when we heard that this new place was serving up a hearty selection of Hanoi-style sticky rice, Banh Mi, as well as pho, all of which were made from scratch by a husband and wife combo, we thought, “wow, this sounds like a big deal!” So off we went to check out the aptly-named Mr. Red Café.

Littlest PHOllower is now a Teenaged Ninja PHOllower!

Plus, a bonus Teenaged Mutant Ninja PHOllower!

Located on East Hastings Street one block west of Nanaimo, the exterior has the stereotypical window writing advertising the food offerings and the restaurant name on top – all in bright red of course. The interior is arranged café-style, which one member described as “semi-modern,” with tables arranged in a horseshoe shape around a protruding island, with (you guessed it) red accents throughout. With a plePHOra of (real) green plants and (fake) red flowers around, it gave it a very live jungle-y feeling.

Plants plants everywhere!

Plants plants everywhere!

Service was quite prompt and friendly when we first arrived around 11:30AM, giving us menus and Pandan Jasmine Tea (although we could really only taste the barley-esque notes) as soon as we arrived, but as the restaurant filled up, service slowed to a crawl, to the point where our group was quite hungry before we started getting our orders – and even then, only half of our table was served their PHOod while the rest waited about 10 mins before their orders arrived.

Stir Fried Beef Rolls

Stir Fried Beef Rolls

Despite the wait, we were pleasantly impressed with the quality of the pho. While the broth wasn’t quite as piping hot as we would prefer, it was nevertheless tasty with a strong beefy flavor, with lots of depth and a spice/herbal mixture that gave it an extra mysterious quality. The Bun Bo Hue broth also had a very light red color (surprising) compared to other Bun Bo Hues, but the flavor (and spice level) was just right, allowing the broth’s beefiness to come through without being overpowered.

Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue

While there was a good variety of meats in both the Pho Bo Dac Biet and the Bun Bo Hue, there were very few of each, and beef tendons were strangely missing from the ingredient list. The portion size of the noodles was also smaller than average, which was unfortunate as they were just the right amount of done-ness without being overly soft.

Pho Bo Dac Biet

Pho Bo Dac Biet

While the presentation of pho isn’t typically well-done in most pho joints, you could tell that there was some effort here in arranging the meat so that it was more than the usual haphazard pile of meats. Even the sides came in a neat basket with giant soup spoons. But, as it seems to be a theme, the variety and portion sizes provided of the sides was also on the smaller side, especially seeing as how it was meant for three orders.



While they did have higher than average prices, and smaller than average portions, the quality of the pho did stand out and it was clear that they took great care in their preparation. If only they could improve the speed of their service, it would be, ahem, RED-iculously good.

Here’s our review of the pho!

One Size: $8-$11.50
Beef: Good variety, but few pieces of each.
Noodles: al dente, with thicker noodles in the Bun Bo Hue
Broth: Strong beefy flavor
Presentation:  3 out of 4

Overall:  7.5 out of 10

Mr. Red Cafe on Urbanspoon