Pho Boi: A Taste of Attitude (Burnaby location)

Pho Boi exterior

Wendy was quite excited to spot the transition of Pho Hoa on Kingsway to its new incarnation, Pho Boi: A Taste of Vietnam about a week ago.  We agreed to try it ASAP.  It seems this chain has its roots in Victoria, so in hindsight that should have been a red flag right there…

PS-I found this sadly defunct but hilariously named Victoria food blog recently…the front page pic is priceless 😛

Pho Boi interior

We were invited to pick our own seat when we walked in so we pulled up a chair and got down to business with Pho Boi’s menu.  It looked interesting enough so we ordered our pho from the “Adventures’ choice section”.  We also were interested in their version of the Vietnamese spring roll, cha gio, but Wendy wanted to know if they were made with the traditional rice paper or Chinese style spring roll wrappers.  It’s pretty common for local Viet places to use the wheat version, but there were some authentic looking menu items so it was worth asking.  Here’s the convo:

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Miura Waffle Milk Bar new location launch

Miura Waffle Milk Bar exterior

Miura Waffle + Milk Bar has just moved to its new Main & Broadway digs and they kindly hosted a pre-launch tasting event for the folks who had written about them in the past.  Wendy reviewed the old downtown location a while back, so we got an invite and figured this time I could give a second opinion on the place.  We got to sample literally every food item on the menu plus a few new drinks!

Miura Waffle Milk Bar interior

The newly reno’d interior was clean and sported bar and table seating with a view of the kitchen in the back.  Now for a word about the “yoggys” and “sandos” on offer here: this ain’t your momma’s waffle shack.  Miura’s motto is “NO FORK & KNIFE, NO SYRUP”.  They make waffle sandwiches here, both savoury and sweet, and sando is short for sandowicchi (the Japanese pronunciation of sandwich), and are meant to be eaten with your hands.  Yoggys are yogurt-y milk drinks which are slightly thicker and tangier than regular milk.

Miura Waffle Milk Bar: Miura Shakes

First we tried some items from the Miura Shake menu.  These are all new items launched with the location change.  Clockwise from top left are the G8, Corny, and two Cara-Misos.  The G8 (stands for 8-grain) is the health-conscious one of the group with a blend of red, green, and mung beans, brown and black rice, and wheat berries plus a couple more we forgot.  It definitely tastes healthy with a kind of rice-y malt flavour.  If you can imagine a drink version of Sugar Crisp cereal you’ve hit the nail on the head.  The Corny is sweet corn with vanilla ice cream, and the Cara-Miso is Miura’s fusion take on classic salted caramel treats, but they combine their house-made caramel sauce with red miso (?!) for the salted portion.  Trust us, it tastes like HEAVEN and was the star player here.  These were sample sizes with the standard 16 oz. versions going for $6.49.

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Pho Hoang

Wendy and I made an unplanned pit-stop to refuel with a nice big steaming bowl of pho during a recent drive through Vancouver, and Pho Hoang was the first one we passed.  The signs on the door were covered in awards from the Westender and four or five Golden Plate awards from the Reader’s Choice awards in the Georgia Straight so we thought this place could be something special.

It wasn’t.

The menu had a more varied selection than usual and we pointed out to each other several items to try on future visits, but decided we both were in the mood to try some plain old pho.  And after all a good Vietnamese restaurant can be judged by the quality of its pho, so we were excited thinking this would be “the best”.  We were brought a pot of complimentary tea while we were in menu mode.  Complimentary tea at Asian restaurants tends to be a bit watered down and boring, but this one took the cake.  It was watered down so badly you could not detect the tea at all, and if I had been told it was water with a drop of food colouring I would have believed it.

Pho Hoang Ban Tom Co Gnu

To start we ordered up an appetizer of the small size Banh Tom Co Ngu ($4.95), basically yam fries with nouc mam, that sweet fishy Vietnamese dip you normally get with spring rolls and things of that nature.  Most of this dish was stuck together into large clumps, and in many of the fries the batter was far more prevalent than the small julienned yam pieces.  While normally when having a meal with Wendy you can’t go wrong with yam fries, this time neither of us liked them much.

Pho Hoang Rare Beef and Tendon Pho

We don’t review many of these places although we eat pho on the regular because it can be difficult to differentiate one pho from another.  But at Pho Hoang it was easy to see the difference.  For mine I had a large rare beef and tendon ($7.50).  The broth was nice and hearty looking and with a taste to match, however when I got to my first piece of tendon and tried to take a bite it went shooting out of my mouth and splashing back into the soup!  It was hard as a rock and slippery as an eel.  While some subsequent pieces were soft, tender and chewy others looked like they had been pre-chewed and spit out and after several more hard uncooked pieces we were left with quite an array of inedible pieces on the plate next to us.  The pieces of beef on top of the soup did come rare, but after cooking it the texture was grainy and old and the meat that had been in the broth to begin with was quite clumpy.  I also got a piece of tripe in there which was no problem for me, but may be for many people who find a cow’s stomach lining extremely unappetizing.  I was really disappointed with this one.

Pho Hoang House Special Pho

Wendy had better luck with her small House Special ($6.75) because she liked her favourite part, the tripe.  However she had the same issue as mine with the tendon being hard and uncooked.  She was quite fond of the hearty broth though.

Maybe we just came on an off night, but if the food here is normally this shoddy I can’t see why Georgia Straight readers are so fond of it.  Portion sizes were average value for the dollar here as well, nothing more nothing less.

Pho Hoang Vietnamese Restaurant 煌記牛肉粉 on Urbanspoon

Pho Maxima Restaurant

Pho Maxima Restaurant exterior

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I LOVE PHO!!!!  So when I found a good pho place close to home, I was ecstatic.  I noticed that a good pho broth is hard to find nowadays…most places are either not concentrated enough or it’s much too sweet.  Maxima seems to have a good balance of both.

We’ve always driven past it and one chilly night we finally decided to try it out.  It has your usual suspects.  They’re also a bubble tea and banh mi restaurant.  Usually the addition of bubble tea raises red flags for me.  But we’re happy to say we’ve been pleasantly surprise (much like the visit to Kim Anh).

Pho Maxima Restaurant: House Special Pho

I always order the House Special ($7 for small).  I just enjoy the variety of meats offered.  The soup was fragrant and salted just right.  It does look a little on the lighter side but the taste is there.  One complaint though, one time instead of thinly sliced beef, they gave me thick strips of meat instead which did not cook well, and were extremely chewy.  But that was just one time from the few times we’ve went.

Another thing is…this restaurant is pretty damn chilly…

Pho Maxima Restaurant: Tendon and Brisket Pho

Hitman always orders the Tendon and Brisket ($7.50 large) combination here.  He really doesn’t have much to say but he doesn’t complain when I ask to come here, so I’m assuming he likes it here too.
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DD Mau

DD Mau is a little gourmet banh mi place in Yaletown.  I guess its location validates the high prices they charge…in any other regular Vietnamese restaurant, a banh mi is at the the most $4.75.  Hitman first heard of this place from reading about it in a newspaper, and he was very excited as they offer a choice of multi-grain bun for their sandwiches…probably no other banh mi place in the city has this option.

So was it worth the extra moolah??  We’re about to find out…

Crispy Roasted Pork ($8.80)
Crispy roasted pork + scallion chimichurri + pickled veggies + cilantro + house aioli + jalapeños + cracklin.

Gotta give them credit where it’s due, they have some pretty creative concoctions.  One of those was a Pho Dip which is obvious a play on words on the beef dip.  Too bad they were out of it the night we went…however it was still pretty early in the night, around 5pm or so, and they close at 8pm, so I wonder if they had it at all.

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