Pho Viet on Kingsway and Nanaimo, Vancouver


This restaurant has been closed according to Urbanspoon; updated on 30 April 2010.

Our boys had been hankering us for Vietnamese Pho.  I know it had been a while since we had Vietnamese.  It is because I got so bored with Pho.  I mean, there is really very little that separates one Beef Noodle place with another.

So we decided to drive along Kingsway looking for a Vietnamese restaurant.  It’s amazing how many Vietnamese restaurants there are along Kingsway, particularly the stretch on Vancouver East Side.  I think there must be more than a dozen from small hole-in-the-wall places to more fancier ones.

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We decided to check out Pho Viet simply because they had the prettiest signboard along Kingsway.  Moreover, it has the words “Vietnamese Fine Cuisine” on the signboard too.  Despite that Pho Viet has the cheapest Pho in town too (more about that later).

There is a also Pho Viet in Richmond but I think the Pho Viet on Kingsway have nothing to do with the one in Richmond.  The one in Richmond seems Chinese owned (they speak Cantonese) but this one is Vietnamese operated.  This Pho Viet is located on 2141 Kingsway which is between Victoria and Nanaimo.

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I was rather stunned by the interior.  It was very tastefully decorated with orangey lightings.  I can quite certainly say that Pho Viet is the cleanest and well decorated Vietnamese restaurant I had been to.

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Service was excellent.  The lady (seems to be the owner) came by with our tea.  One would normally be served hot tea but here they served iced tea.  It is a good idea since it was a hot day too.

The menu had exactly what I wanted.  Although it had the usual noodles, rice and sandwiches, they also had an interesting Dinner and Chef Special section.

The lady owner was really helpful with our questions on their dishes which we are not familiar with.

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They serve very fresh beansprouts.  You can see it from the sheer whiteness of it, especially at the roots.  On top of that are the normal basil leave and also this leave below which you will normally not find on other Vietnamese restaurants.

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Even though she did not know the English name for this, the lady owner told us it is from the family of cilantro.  It has the fragrance of cilantro leave and evokes a nice fragrance on biting it.  We like it.

We asked why we don’t see this in most restaurants.  She told us that it’s because it is more expensive.  We were quite impressed up to this point.  It does seem to us that Pho Viet is trying very hard to stand out from other Vietnamese restaurants.

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The above is the cheapest Pho that we had come across — and perhaps the cheapest in the whole of Metro Vancouver.  For the month of June, they are having what they call the “Anti Crisis June Special” where all phos are $4.99.  The regular prices are from $7.75 to $8.50.  You got to check this out yourself.

Despite the special price, the pho was pretty good with the normal amount of beef in it as one expects.  The broth was flavourful.  I expected this to be watered down but it turned out that it is even more flavorful than some of the places we had been to before.  Look at the color of the broth.

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I decided to be adventurous and went for the Escargot with Green Banana Hot Pot.  The lady owner tried to discourage me  from ordering this because she said only Vietnamese would like it and was afraid that the guy with the big camera doesn’t like it.  LOL!

I told her I wanted to try it.  I had never had Green Banana before.  I had never had any type of bananas in a soup before too as a matter of fact!  And with snails in it … I was totally intrigued.  I had to give that a try.  This is $12.50.

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The Hot Pot came with a huge serving of rice.  I thought they got this wrong because it seems like it is for two people.

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The green banana had an unfamiliar texture.  It was somewhat rough and fibrous.  I agree with the lady owner … it is an acquired taste in order to love this.  LOL!  It wasn’t bad at all, just felt strange to me.  Maybe that is the reason why banana is not commonly used in cooking this way.

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The escargo on the other hand was OK. It was chewy and a bit tough to the bite but otherwise tasteless. They are small — I had tasted bigger and better ones in Paris and Brussels.

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Suanne opted for the Duck Leg with Egg Noodle Soup ($9.50).  We were told that it is served with Chinese herbal soup which was very flavorful.  We see that they had red dates, water chestnuts and lily flower in the soup.

This is a welcome change from the normal beef soup — we like the taste of the soup.

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The noodles were a bit tough and chewy to the point that it seems not fully cooked.  I think they need to boil it more to soften it a bit more.

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The best part of this dish is the duck meat they gave us.  There were quite a few large meaty pieces of duck meat.   For $10 and with a herbal soup, we thought that the price for this was pretty good.

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Nanzaro had the Pan fried Beef and Shredded Pork on Vermicelli.  This is $9.50.  We did not try taste it but from the looks of it, it looked quite good.  I like the quail egg they gave in this dish.

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The total came up to just under $32 before tips.  This is because they also had 15% off all dishes except for the $4.99 pho specials.  I really think that this place is worth checking out if you want to try Vietnamese cuisine outside of normal noodles, rice and sandwich food.

Pho Viet is kind of quiet the whole time we were there.  It seems like they are facing a lot of competition from the nearby Pho restaurants.  They had just been opened for 3 months and I do really want to see they succeed because Vancouver surely needs more Vietnamese restaurants like them.

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Pho Viet Vietnamese Fine Cuisine on Urbanspoon

13 thoughts on “Pho Viet on Kingsway and Nanaimo, Vancouver

  1. Green banana is easily found in many warp dishes such as the first course of “Bo 7 mon”.

    Cilantro, basil, finger grass, bean sprout (sometimes fresh chili and lime for someone loving a spicier or sourer taste) are things essential to Pho. If you find anything other than those, they are all made up by the owner. You may also find green onion and onion, which don’t affect the taste of the dish. This is the version that I have known for many years in Saigon.

  2. I think I may have caught a bit of a decline here at Pho Viet. The first time I tried their Thit Koh To – it was that proper, glossy, oily, sweet and slightly bitter stew made with nice fatty belly.

    The last couple times – they made it a la minute (ie instead of stewing for hours until tender) – it wasn’t Thit Koh To at all in the end.

    I also notice that they had removed a few of their specialties from many of the menu sections (notably in the “Seafood” section.)

    I suspect nobody ordered these items so they are cutting their losses. It’s a real shame that they are having to do this.

  3. We sought out Pho Viet because we heard they had pork au caramel on the menu. It is number 59 Thit Ko Tho (Vietnamese style braised pork) $12 and it is delicious, unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.

    They also have a favourite of mine in number 74, Bo Luc Lac (Stir fried cubed beef but better known as shaking beef) for $14.50 that is really worthwhile. I think this place is worth checking out for the entrees and specialties — the two times we went we were less enamoured of the bun type offerings though they were fine.

  4. Pingback: Chow Times » Hai Phong Vietnamese Restaurant on Kingsway and Inverness, Vancouver
  5. I popped in for a quick pho there a little while ago when they first opened. I saw those interesting dishes in the dinner menu and I have wanted to come back.

    Kim Ho – you can find culanto/sawtooth/rau ngo gai (along with many other SE Asian herbs) at Supermarket 88 (Victoria Dr and 33rd-ish) and Asian Way (Nanaimo and 1st – next to the T&T)

  6. Ben,

    Wondering about that 15% discount ….. is it limited-time only (ie: first few months) ? Or permanent but during certain hours in the day ?

    At first their prices on the menu seem a tad high relative to other typical pho restaurant prices. But with 15% off that levels the playing field.

    • Oooh … I am not 100% sure myself. The $4.99 Pho was special for June only — that I know but am not sure about the 15% discount. I reckon it could be for the same period too.
      Ben

  7. It’s awesome reading your blog as sometimes you drive by places and never go in as you have no clue whether it’s good or not. I think I will totally go try this restaurant. And picture with the sign is great, as now I can pick it out easily. 🙂

  8. Ben, that mystery herb is culantro, aka, saw-leaf herb! More details in wikipedia here. That alone makes me want to go there as I love it and would like to find out where they can procure some of it (almost no matter the price)!

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