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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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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Home-cooking: Recipe for Vietnamese Pho Soup

Home-cooking: Vietnamese Pho Soup

I love pho…I would have it everyday if I could. Now it’s not the most expensive meal in the world but it would be such an accomplishment if I could make it myself… So off to the inter webs I went in search for an easy recipe.

My first attempt at making any kind of bone broth was actually the Korean version. It didn’t require a lot of ingredients, but it does require a lot of time…2-3 days actually.  What results though is a rich, white broth full of gelatin and collagen…recipe for that coming soon.

Anyway back to pho…it turns out pho soup base is less time consuming to make, but takes just a bit more ingredients.  If you’re Asian, you should already have most of the stuff in your cupboard.  I grabbed a great recipe off Viet World Kitchen….it’s great cuz it’s seems to be the easiest with the least amount of ingredients.  However I found that the pictures from Steamy Kitchen and Inspired Taste to be a great resource and they would be especially helpful to those of you unfamiliar with certain cuts or meat, spices or bones.

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Kim Anh

Wendy and I had a pho craving while out shopping in the Edmonds area and decided to give Kim Anh a shot.  They serve Vietnamese cuisine alongside Canadian diner fare which I suppose could be considered a bit of a red flag but the appetite-inducing photos in the windows beckoned us in.  Upon entering we weren’t hit with the usual intoxicating aroma of pho broth, but an equally enticing greasy burger and fries smell permeated the restaurant.  We did contemplate leaving but once we heard the owners speak Vietnamese we were more at ease. One of our fellow diners was having the patty melt; basically a cheeseburger on your choice of bread instead of a bun.  This put me in the mood for a burger, but I didn’t lose the pho craving so I just ordered both.

The Viet section of the menu had a small assortment of pho dishes for $6.25-$7, all one size which seemed to be equivalent to a small at most places, plus vermicelli and rice dishes, while the Canadian side offered steaks, sandwiches, burgers and…borscht?!?  They also have a separate menu for banh mi (Viet subs) for $5-$6.  Wendy ordered the house special pho with extra cilantro ($6.99)

Kim Anh: House special pho

They brought a nice sized bowl of cilantro on the side so Wendy was pleased.  She liked the broth and the noodles were a good consistency as well as the meat.  No complaints there.  However the sprouts and basil were served in the soup and not on the side, no mint or jalapenos either, just a single lime-wedge looking pretty lonely on it’s own little plate 😦 At least they have the right kind of basil.  But Wendy did mention that she liked it, broth and all.

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