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

Lickerish Lounge

lickerish lounge

Some friends headed out to celebrate a couple of birthdays on Saturday and decided to have the dinner and pre-drinks at Lickerish Lounge on Davie St.  Neither of us has been here but we have heard of it; the paintings of major urban music figures on the walls were what came to mind immediately.  We did a bit of reconnaissance online and came up with some pretty bad reviews, but we noticed they were mainly from previous years so we figured hopefully its changed for the better since.  And I’m glad we gave them the benefit of the doubt since our experience there was top notch!

lickerish lounge

We were running a little late so when we got there the party was in full swing; a diverse crowd packed the downstairs area and everybody seemed to be having a good time.  There’s an upstairs loft as well and apparently later in the evening both levels can get pretty packed on a weekend (they also offer an outdoor patio).  At this point in the evening rap music was pumping from the sound system to accompanying videos on the plasmas on the walls (including a giant 106″ HD screen above the DJ booth!), and although we didn’t stay late enough to catch the DJ sets they have live DJs Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights after 10 PM.

I recognized one of the waitresses as a former co-worker, and although she wasn’t the server for our section we did get a chance to chat about her new gig.  I know her as a straight shooter, and she had nothing but kind words for the owner and establishment.  She said she has a lot of fun working there and that the crowd is phenomenal, none of the sketchiness or aggression you might expect at a hip hop venue.  One of the main gripes it seems people had with Lickerish in the past was in the service department, but the current staff seemed very pleasant and capable, and handled our crowd without any complaints or hitches.

lickerish lounge: White Sangria

Wendy had a couple shots of Tavi tequila to start the night off with a bang: a newish entry into the premium tequila market, Tavi’s known for a clean taste, smooth finish and purported lack of hangover (and a gorgeous looking bottle!).  For her next drink she had a White Sangria ($7.50), which she thought looked quite pretty served with a couple of cranberries and a slice each of lemon and lime.  She didn’t find it very boozy, but sangria is usually deceptively easy to drink so it more than likely had the requisite amount in it.

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Wings Pub & Grill on Kingsway

L and I felt like wings and beer after a swim.  Actually, we went swimming just so we can have wings and beer afterwards.  She lives really close to Wings, and her place has a pool, 1+1=2!

We didn’t realize it was the first night of the restart of UFC though, so basically when we went in, we didn’t have much choice for seating.  We ended up sitting out in the patio even though it was raining since we were both in skirts and didn’t feel like sitting on a bar stool.

For anyone that this matters to, the Kingsway location actually allows smoking in their patio seating.  Good thing we went early so we weren’t bombarded too much.

Wings Pub and Grill: domestic beer

They have pretty reasonable beer prices.  A glass of domestic was only $3.90.

Wings Pub and Grill: Yam Fries

Their Yam Fries ($6.95) were really really good.  Fat, long pieces, crispy, and there were lots.  A lot of other places serve short, stubby, broken off pieces, so this was a really really nice change.  They were served with a red pepper aioli.

Wings Pub and Grill: bucket

Bucket for the main event~

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Pinky’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Lounge – CLOSED

The night we had dinner at Pinky’s was during the Olympics.  As expected, anywhere else from the Downtown core has very little business during those two weeks, doesn’t matter what day of the week.

Pinky’s, being in Kitsilano, was no exception.  We were probably the 3rd table there that whole night.

Which was fine with us.

Pinky's Steakhouse

It’s actually a very nicely decorated restaurant.  Very modern, albeit a bit dark.  I imagine it can get quite noisy here since it is still kind of small, and the bar is right in the middle of it all.

Pinky's Steakhouse: yazuka

I started off with the Yazuka ($9), which is a Sake blended drink with lychee and peach schnapps.

It came smaller than I already expected.  The glass doesn’t even look full.  Oh well.  It was refreshing and of course, peachy.  I did have to savor every drop though.

Pinky's Steakhouse: House Salad

We ordered two appetizers to start.  We figured that since we’re at a steakhouse (this was one of those steakhouses where when you order a steak, it ONLY comes with that steak, plus an onion ring), we need to get some fiber intake somewhere.  So one of our appies was a salad.

Mom and PS originally wanted the Caesar salad, but I voted against it since it’s actually not very healthy for you.  I asked that we had the House Salad instead which was served with blue cheese, pecans and cranberries.  I love any salad with cranberries.  And blue cheese.  This was very good.

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The Fish House Redux – Sequel Syndrome

We have once again decided to grace The Fish House in Stanley Park with our presence and be subjected to their alluring offerings. The occasion is my mom’s birthday. She really enjoyed it last year and we were looking forward to it again. My mom is usually picky (and at times, illogically picky) about some of the places we go to. The Fish House was one of the few places we introduced her to that escaped her scorn.

As usual, the complimentary bread kicks off the dinner:

The Fish House: complimentary bread

Up next, the mouth-watering Steam Mussels with yam fries.

The Fish House: mussels and yam fries

Now, we definitely have a complaint about the order.  Compared to the several times we’ve been here, the mussel were quite small and the yam fries were very short.  It was like we had the ‘recession’ version of the food.  We did complain about it but more on that later.

The Fish House: Hawaiian Mahi-mahi

Dad’s Hawaiian Mahi-mahi. It was quite delicious.  The sauce was not overbearing and the fish meat was very firm.

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