Archive for the ‘Burnaby’ Category

Pholicious 100-Ha Cafe

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


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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.



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

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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

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Oog it has been too long my PHOllowers, between updates, and pho that, I am sorry. Pho reals. 🙂 but here we are! In the new year, and with a new pho review from April!

This time, we hit up the new place right by my neighborhood, Pho Tan. It replaces the old Pho Saigon restaurant on Kingsway, (which… was good? Bad? I dunno – never got to try it). Despite being sandwiched between a Greek restaurant and a Japanese sukiyaki place, parking was still plentiful in front and on the street.

The spacious interior looked like it was recently renovated, with lots of natural light coming in, new furniture, and clean! As an added surprise, one of our members reported that he had seen Peter Chao there before. Well.. I don’t know if that adds to the ambiance, but who cares, we’re here for the pho.

Pho Tan!

The portions were good, with definite steam coming off of the bowls as they got to our table. The soup was piping hot, which is always approved by our members. We dug right in and we weren’t disappointed. One member ordered the satay pho, and subsequently declared it the Best Satay Pho Ever. Which, says something.

Satay pho!

Service was okay, nothing special. Pretty much what we expected. It seemed like there was only two servers, but they seemed to be able to keep everyone happy.

Pho Tan Spring Rolls

Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy the food, with one member even admitting that he had convinced his coworkers to come here for lunch 3 times in the last week. That’s dedication!

This is... ah... It's... green

Here’s our review of the pho!

Sm: $5.99 Lg: $6.99
Beef: Good portions!
Noodles: firm, al dente
Broth: light, piping hot
Presentation: 3 out of 4*

*We forgot to write it down, so I made it up from memory 😀

Overall: 8 out of 10

Pho Tan on Urbanspoon

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pho 101 (34)

We held an official Pholicious meeting at Pho 101 in Burnaby back in May.  I was still living in Burnaby that time and drove by everyday for weeks in anticipation of the grand opening.  It was just blocks away from my old place… walkable distance!  The closest Vietnamese restaurant was 15mins away (and they aren’t very good).  Needless to say, I was pretty excited 😛

When it finally opened, I immediately scheduled a meeting there 🙂  The interior is small- probably less than 10 tables in total.   We showed up for a late lunch and had to wait for a table.  Business seemed to be doing quite well.  It has a modern decor and has very uniquely specialized dinning ware. I mean, just look at this hoison squeeze bottle! The waitstaff are dressed in black polo shirts with Pho 101 embroided on them.  The service was very nice, attentive, and fast… just how we like it!

They have a good selection on their menu- all the usual things and a few unique items.  They have a total of 8 different types of subs- that’s the most I’ve seen.  I couldn’t resist ordering a few appetizers, so we decided to try the special sub (ham, bacon, pate, and shredded pork), salad roll, and spring rolls.  The filling in the sub was good, but the bread was too crunchy and dry 😦  All the food was presented very nicely and ingredients were very fresh.

pho 101 (12) pho 101 (13)

pho 101 (8)pho 101 (9)

I usually order Pho Tai but this time the Pho Dac Biet caught my eye- it’s served with filet mignon!  The filet mignon was served raw on a separate plate and you take it and dip it in the hot soup to cook.  It’s a very neat concept!  The meat was very lean and tender.  Noodles were cooked just right.  The broth was lighter in flavor and low on the MSG.   The house special is on the pricy side- $9.95 while others are between $6.65 – $7.50.

pho 101 (16)pho 101 (10)

Overall, it received a score of 7/10.  The dishes are tasty but like Spices, you pay more for the nice decor.  The location has an advantage as there are no other Vietnamese restaurants in the neighborhood.  Also, Sushitown next door is always busy so they might be getting their overflow.  We enjoyed our visit but it’s not somewhere we would go all the time.   Maybe once in a while for special occasions 🙂

Pho 101 on Urbanspoon

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Asian 54

Pho-a-thon 08 (77)

Sorry for the lack of updates recently- just moved and didn’t have internet for awhile!

One of the things I miss most about living in Burnaby is being close to Asian 54.  I know that sounds a bit sad but I just love this place!  Last night I had to run some errands in Burnaby so I made sure I stopped by for a quick dinner.

It’s a very small and clean restaurant.  The service is always great- friendly, prompt, and always with a smile!  They have a good selection on the menu… I’m tempted to try it all but can’t resist the pho! I’ve tried their subs, spring rolls, and salad rolls and they were all very good.  The subs do get sold out at times 😦  They sure are tasty though!  The french bread is fresh and toasted and stuffing is fresh and generous.

What I like most about their pho is the broth- it’s clean, flavorful (beef bones and daikon), and isn’t loaded with MSG.  The noodles are cooked just right and the beef is of good quality.  MMmmmmmmmMMm!

Ok, so I sound like I’m advertising for this place… but I have to say- it’s one of my favorite places in the lower mainland.  Too bad I won’t be visiting as often anymore 😦

I will miss you Asian 54.  If anyone knows a good pho place downtown, let me know! Thanks!

Asian 54 Vietnamese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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