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Archive for the ‘East Vancouver’ Category

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

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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

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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.

Baskets!

Baskets!

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

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Pholicious 94-Pho Ngan

It’s September, and that means: BACK TO SCHOOL PHO! Well all right, not every student is back in school just yet, but no teacher’s strike is going to stop us from eating pho. In fact, we’re going to a place that even has student specials!

phongan-sandwich

Pho combos and specials

It’s been a while since most of us were in school (although some of us never left). But even if we didn’t have student budgets anymore, we still had student sensibilities. Pho-od combos? Yes please! The student+senior combo came with a small bowl of pho, with a spring roll, while the Pho Combo came with a regular bowl of pho, your choice of appetizers, and a drink. It bears mentioning though, that the description for the student special on the menus themselves weren’t accurate, and even the price was different (bleh).

Following the back-to-school theme, we even had a pho pop quiz!

Pho-ology 101

Pho-ology 101

Despite the school-themed festivities, we were there for one reason: pho! Pho Ngan is situated on Fraser street just south of 41st, across the street from John Oliver Secondary School. The interior was cozy, with paintings of Vietnamese farm life on the walls. Despite it being a hot and sunny day, ventilation was quite good, with big windows letting in a fair amount of natural light.

photo 3 (1)

Interior! Quiet at first..

Service was pretty good when we first arrived, with tea and menus being distributed quickly, but as the restaurant filled up, service suffered as it seemed that there was only one server. We eventually got our orders, although there were a few mix-ups, but the pho arrived first, then appetizers, then finally our drink orders. While tea was never refilled, there was a self-serve water cooler available – which our members liked quite a bit.

Regular pho, and student-sized pho.

Regular pho, and student-sized pho.

The portion sizes were larger than average, but the ratio of meat was inconsistent, with lots of brisket, and very little tripe or tendon. The quality of the beef was okay, although one member remarked that the brisket tended to be on the tougher side, although the tendon was soft. The noodles, though generous in size, were a bit over done and as a result, clumped together at the bottom of the bowl. The broth wasn’t quite as hot as we’d like it, lacked depth, and was over-seasoned, which may have been due to the higher than average amount of MSG. It’s also notable that we found slices of ginger floating in some of our bowls, which was missed by their strainer.

Sides.. for 4.

Garnishes came with the typical beansprouts, Thai basil leaves, and limes, which, although serviceable, was a bit lacklustre and on the small side for some of our members. 

The spring rolls had a crispy skin, had a good ratio of filling to skin, and was tasty over all, but it was a bit over-fried. The lemongrass chicken skewer was notably moist and tender, with good flavour.

Surprisingly, our iced coffee and tea orders came back in to-go cups already made, instead of the traditional Vietnamese drip brewers, which was disappointing. The coffee was strong, but also seemed to be on the sweet side with some off-taste with the condensed milk.

Pre-packaged vietnamese coffee

Pre-packaged vietnamese coffee

Here’s our review of the pho!

Regular: $7.00; Combo (+appetizer & drink): $9.99; Student Combo (+spring roll): $5.50
Beef: healthy portion, though inconsistent in quantity
Noodles: overcooked, clumpy
Broth: lacked depth, over-seasoned, medium-to-high MSG level
Presentation:  2 out of 4

Overall:  5 out of 10

Pho Ngan on Urbanspoon

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We’re back pho-lks! This week we decided to try Thai Hang on Hastings in the Granview-Woodland area of Vancouver. In fact, our Pho-president was so excited about this pholicious meeting that she showed up a week early! But despite the confusion over the meeting date (ahem, that she herself set, ahem), we assembled together at the correct time and date and got down to the serious business of eating pho.

The interior of Thai Hang is fairly large, with a double-unit storefront on the north side of Hastings. Situated between a newly-opened Malaysian-ey Chinese restaurant and a TV repair shop, the interior was clean, well-lit and somewhat tropical with pictures of palm trees out front and a tiki bar(?)-style cashier area. Service was accommodating (even when we needed to add seats for additional members), although having most of the restaurant empty on a rainy morning likely helped. Having all of the utensils and sauces already on the table also made it easier to get all of our personal pho-eating equipment.

With that said, the pho arrived quickly with all of the usual sides of beansprouts, lime wedges, and cilantro leaves. Overall we found the noodles to be a tad overcooked, with not much springiness or “bite” to them. Sadly the broth was also under-seasoned and lacked depth, which was unfortunately exacerbated by being on the lukewarm side by the time we received it. The beef quality and quantity was average, but the variety was notably lacking in the house special which came with minimal beef balls and no tendon/tripe, which led us to wonder if we simply received rare beef phos in lieu. Presentation was serviceable, but not notable.

Pho comes in either Small ($6.50) or Large ($7.50), although if you also order a spring roll/cold drink/dessert, you might as well get the large since combo pricing ($9) essentially makes it the same price.

It’s also notable that they offered us complimentary dessert.

Sadly we were so out of pho-practice that we forgot to take pho-tos! Pho shame!!

Here’s our review of the pho!

Small: $6.50 Large: $7.50 Combo: $9
Beef: average, but lacking variety
Noodles: tad overcooked
Broth: lacked depth and seasoning
Presentation: 2 out of 4

Overall: 5 out of 10

Thai Hang Vietnamese Restaurant 輝記牛肉粉 on Urbanspoon
 

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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

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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

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