Two weeks ago I took a full week off work. I was forced to.
You see, I had accumulated 3.5 weeks of vacation days this year. Normally I would use up my vacation days by taking a long vacation in summer but we did not go anywhere this summer. So the company issued a “use it or lose it” notice and it appears that this time they are serious. So I took a week off but I felt it is such a waste taking a week off and not going anywhere.
I stayed at home. And it snowed. And I did not want to be stuck at home.
So while the boys were at school, Suanne and I took a drive in the snow in search of soupy food. It was supposed to be the day when they say the snow will be 5 inches.
It was a long slow drive from Richmond to Kingsway in Vancouver. We had no preference on which restaurant to go to because we know there will be a lot of Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsway.
Everyone was driving so carefully that it took like almost forever to get there. Moreover, I took the “scenic” route through all the major roads. Not sure about you but I love to drive in the snow. The city looks a lot different under snow.
We stopped at Pho Van. We had never blogged about Pho Van before but before the days of chowtimes we used to come here quite a lot of times. It must have been 10 years ago when we first visited this place. This is one of the Vietnamese places we eat in after church. Yeah, back then money is tight and pho gives us the biggest bang for the buck. I could feed the whole family for $15 by ordering two bowls of pho. The boys back then were still willing to share mum and dad’s noodles.
We parked the car by the curb right in front of the restaurant on Fraser and Kingsway. The street is practically empty. Not many people are that crazy to go out when the forecast is predicting more snow. It was a good thing it was just about to open at 10AM. We were the first customer and ONLY customer that day. LOL!
The waitress (maybe the owner because she looked like the bossy type) told us that we had to wait for 10 minutes. I think it’s perhaps because they had not quite heated up the broth yet. Oh man … the room was freezing cold.
Is it true that neon lights are … popular in restaurants in Vietnam. I am asking because I don’t see many restaurants have neon lights and the ones I remember seeing is in Kim Penh Xe Lua on Broadway and Gold Train Express on Kingsway. I see the same type of multi-color neon lights here. They are switched on even in day time. It bothered me a bit because it is difficult to take pictures with these lights on. Am just being petty. :-)
But otherwise, this place is clean and they have black marble tables and partitions. This is one of the few well maintained Vietnamese restaurants around town.
The menu is nothing exciting. It is just the basic pho taking center stage with other familiar supporting casts like rice, stew and vermicelli. I guess you can’t get anymore basic than that.
We kept our jackets for a good part of our time there. It was that cold. It was so cold that even the tea cooled down very fast.
We thought it is just sad to order two bowls of noodles. So we decided to order an appetizer. Or at least we thought it was an appetizer.
No wonder their deep fried spring rolls is so expensive ($6.30). This appetizer is like a full meal by itself. It has two rather long spring rolls and it came along with some vermicelli too.
Pho Van’s deep fried spring roll is pretty good. It was long right? And that also means it is narrower. I personally prefer spring roll that is fatter and has more fillings.
But anyway, this one had good minced fillings and the rice paper skin was crisp. Yeah, it crackled loudly biting into it.
You know what I think? I think the waitress (lady boss?) knew how to handle customers with camera and notebook.
You see, the pho was fantastic that it was soooo full of meat that it is unbelievable. We had never had so much meat like this before. We could barely finish the meat. Maybe it is just the way they serve it … maybe they gave us extra meat.
Suanne ordered the Well Done Flank with Rice Noodle in Soup. She opted for a small version which is just $6. It is really cheap considering what we had in the bowl.
We like that they served this with raw onion slices, cilantro and chopped green onions, particularly the raw onions. The meat, there are lots of nice fatty flank too. Those meat were good.
Here, a little bit about pho. It is pronounced as “fer” not “foh”. Pho is distinctly Vietnamese and originated from North Vietnam and popularized by the south. So, how do one differentiate a northern pho with a southern pho?
Correct me if I am wrong but I believe northern pho uses fatter rice noodles and served with green onions. The people in the south uses thinner rice noodles and serves them with bean sprouts and herbs. So, I guess most of the pho we normally find in Vancouver is the southern variety.
For me I had the Bun Bo Hue. This dish is a specialty from central Vietnam, specifically from the imperial city of Hue.
I got a large serving which is less than $7. What a deal.
The broth is spicy enough for me and it has lots of ingredients.
This bowl has even more meat than Suanne’s … lots of beef slices, pork hock … and … 3 very thick slices of Vietnamese ham. I thought the ham slices were thicker than the ones we normally find in other restaurants.
This restaurant is cash only. I like Pho Van because of the value for money and their pho is very decent too. I hope they expand their menu soon.
Here is the take out menu.