Updated: 22nd Dec 2014; this restaurant had been replaced by Pho Viet.
Update 21st June 2009; this restaurant had been replaced by another Vietnamese Restaurant called Pho A9.
We had been trying to get to Ha Long Bay for three times already since the mid December. Each time we were there, they were closed for Christmas or we could not find a parking spot in the strip mall. Third time lucky … it was opened. We had always been attracted by the colorful delicious looking pictures of their dishes pasted on the windows.
As far as Vietnamese food is concerned, Suanne and I no longer look forward to Pho. I am not sure why. Maybe we’re just sick of Pho. All Phos tasted the same to us anyway. So the Ha Long Bay seems like the kind of place for us … none of the pictures they had on the window is of pho.
Ha Long Bay is located on the inside of the strip mall right across from the Richmond Public Market on the Westminster Highyway. It is actually on the same row as the Kingspark Steak House and the Red Palms Malaysian Pondok Restaurant.
It was kind of quiet when we visited. We found it kind of strange because we expected people out in droves on a Saturday night. Perhaps its because it snowed again that night we were there. The pictures we saw on the outside window extends all the way inside. So, the menu is not necessary. All you got to do is just order by the pictures.
Decor-wise, it seems a lot like a DIY affair. The theme is green but we do feel that the colors and lighting were somewhat ghastly … not that it bother us at all.
I had the Grilled Pork and Grilled Pork Patty with Vermicelli. I just fancy the clear taste of vermicelli and did not want any beef at all. I think Vietnamese does pork very well myself. This was excellent … especially the grill pork patty which was tender. $7.50.
The fish sauce (with julienned carrot and daikon) provided was not overpowering which suits me just fine. This should be an easy dish to make at home, eh, Suanne? *nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink*.
Suanne ordered the Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Sandwich. Banh Mi, is what they call these Vietnamese baguettes. Perhaps an influence from the French colonial days. Very light and crumbly, this Banh Mi reminds us of the excellent sandwiches we had in Au Petit. $4.25 only … pretty cheap.
We asked and were told this was made in-house. I am not sure if they understand what made in-house meant. We meant to ask if they bake the baguettes on the premises and they said yes. *shrugs*
Arkensen had the #1 item … the Ha Long Bay Special Pho which costs $7.25 for the large bowl. For me, it’s really nothing exciting here … it is just … pho. We took a sip (Arkensen stipulated only ONE sip with a clean spoon lest we “contaminate” his bowl of perfect pho) and I thought it was just OK. Suanne insisted that it is more fragrant with spices.
Nanzaro on the other hand had taken a liking to Dry Noodles. It is like he had graduated from fried rice and pho by opting for more uncommon dishes. It is like a normal Seafood with Rice Noodle ($7.75). What really struck me was that the ingredients looked and tasted very fresh, particularly the lettuce.
Well, I took a lot of pictures that night. The restaurant owner noticed and came out to speak to us. She was a pretty lady. I did not even notice if not that Suanne pointed that out to me … HONEST!
She must have thought we were reporters or something. We did not say we were and she did not press. We took the opportunity to learn more. She told us that Ha Long Bay is a North Vietnamese restaurant and is named after a beautiful bay. It is in North Vietnam that Pho and many traditional Vietnamese cuisine originates from. She (we did not get her name) was from North Vietnam and had spent three years in HK where she picked up Cantonese. Anyway, she came back to give us four wedges of oranges. That was awfully sweet of her. Although it was not much it was the thought that counts.
Check out their menu above. It is just like any Vietnamese restaurant. I find it normal … the food was decent, the prices were good, the service is great.
It was just $28.09 for the four of us (no drinks). Suanne likes it and when I asked if she would come back, she said yes. The boys? No question about it … any pho is good for them.
Oh …. a couple of points more. First they only take cash and also debit cards. And secondly, they had been opened for only 6 months. So … for Richmondites, if you want to check a new place for lunch or dinner, go check Ha Long Bay out … and support a local restaurant. Moreover, in the cold chilly winter, what better food than a hot bowl of Pho, right?
Oh … one more point. I learnt that Pho is not pronounced as “foh” but “fur”. Is that right or did someone just pull my legs?!?