Alright. Pho purist unite!
There are lots ramen purists in Vancouver. It is about time that Pho purists unite and help identify the places with the most authentic Pho in Metro Vancouver.
When we wrote about our visit to Thien Kim (where we had FOUR different types of Vietnamese noodles soups, none of which are Pho), there was a comment from Kiki claimed that Lam Hoa Quan is the most authentic that she ever had. So we did some research on Lam Hoa Quan on the internet and we found only ONE mention of this little know gem of a place.
What intrigued me most was the rumour that they serve HORSE MEAT here. Just in case you are itching to click on the comment link and accuse me for being a horse-eating barbarian, please note that we did NOT have horse meat pho here. OK? LOL!
Lam Hoa Quan is located on Victoria Drive between East 34th and 35th In Vancouver. The sign outside the restaurant had the important diacritical mark that says that they serve Ph?, not Pho.
There are surprisingly ample parking at the back of the restaurant. So if you can’t find street parking, just drive to the back and you will find about 6 or 7 lots.
Lam Hoa Quan does look very authentic. Most of their customers speaks in the unmistakable Vietnamese here.
We were served by someone who seems to be the owner or the wife of the owner. Well, she was too well-dressed to be an employee and had make-up put on too. She was also very bossy and “rush-y” especially when we wanted to take more time checking their menu. She was so bossy that I was intimated to ask her if they serve horse meat. I was afraid that she will scold us in front of every customer for even thinking they do that. So, I resigned myself to the fact that I will never ever in my life hear it from the horse’s mouth (pun intended).
Lam Hoa Quan is about a mid-sized restaurant. However, the tables are all jam packed into every available square inch save for some wiggle room for you to get to the other end of the restaurant. I am sure you had been to such restaurants before. You know, one where you brush your buttocks against the tables and chairs of eating customers, apologizing profusely as you do that.
We like Lam Hoa Quan already. We really do. Even before we started ordering we have a good sense that this is indeed a gem of a place as Kiki said it is.
Besides the usual bean sprouts and basil leaves, they also provided something that we had come to identify as signs of authentic Vietnamese Pho.
The chopped shallots does wonder to the flavour of each spoonful of noodles. The red chili (what is the proper name for this type of chili anyway?) adds that ultra extra kick for those who yearns for heat and pain. The small dish of salt and pepper is something I had just learned to use with Vietnamese noodles.
Arkensen ordered their #1. He always order the #1 in every Vietnamese restaurant we went to … always.
This is called Pho Dat Biet (simply House Special Beef Noodle Soup) and costs $7.
Kiki said that Lam Hoa Quan is authentic and they make it with all the traditional ingredients as they do in Vietnam. Did you know that Pho originates from North Vietnam and that they did not become popular in the South until about 50 years ago? It is southern, and less authentic, version of the Pho that is prevalent in North America. So, I guess knowing if it is Northern Vietnamese Pho is one way to gauge authenticity.
What we like about Lam Hoa Quan’s pho is that they add chopped ginger (picture above, the white-yellowish thingy at the top) to all the beef soup. The clear soup is really tasty and flavourful. We finished every drop of the soups we had. Oh yeah, we ended up with really clean bowls after the meal.
Other than the horse meat rumour, their claim to fame is this one above. If you crave for something other than Pho, this is a worthy replacement. It is called the Pho Ga Dac Biet which in English is … simply House Special Chicken Noodles. This is so awesome.
They uses the same type of rice noodles you see on Pho in the Chicken Noodle Soup. The chicken is amazing. It is very easy to over cook chicken, making it tough but here the chicken meat is firm. What we like is the fact that it is skin on and bone in.
We see that the neighboring tables even ordered extra serving of chicken meat (at $7 a dish) to go with their noodle soup.
The best part has got to be the soup. I am quite sure it has something else added other than just pure chicken because it would perhaps have taken like a whole chicken alone to get to that level of flavour. They were liberal with the scallions too. Normally Suanne would be sweet enough to let me have the soup if I like it but not this one. It’s all hers, she said. The chicken noodle soup is $7.50.
I wanted to try their Stir fried Goat Meat ($17) but they were out of it. So under intense pressure to decide what else to order from the lady boss, I went with the not so exciting Pho Tai Gan … which is just rare beef noodles with beef tendon ($7).
If you notice about the beef here, they are not thinly slice but instead they are clumpy. I like it this way because it has more substance to it and it soaks in more of the soup too.
The shallots were awesome with its aromatic and “pungent-ness” to every bite. I had every spoonful of noodles with a little shallot, red chili, cilantro with a bit of soup. Heavenly awesome. This is the best combination I had so far with Pho.
Nanzaro had the Pho Ga Ve Ron which is the combination of chicken and beef noodles soup. $7.
He he he … He tried to be fancy and asked the lady boss if he could have it in “Lai Fun” instead of the normal rice noodles. When the lady boss snapped “No. No Lai Fun. Only noodles”, he was taken aback and just said … “Oh. OK”.
Despite the brusque service from the lady boss, we find the food here fantastic. Moreover it is cheap too. So we will certainly make a return visit.
I highly recommend that you try their chicken noodle soup. I think most people will love it a lot. Just don’t take to heart if you were not given first class service — ignore that and just concentrate on the food and you will be alright.
Can someone confirm or dispel the horse meat rumour for us?
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WOW. Now I know of another good Pho place around my area. YAY! I was a bit apprehensive about this place. Now that you have tried it out I am gonna go try it out for sure! I’m gonna drag one of my food buddies with me. hehee
You have to order the Chicken Pho. I think you will like it. And while you are there, could you do all of us a favour? Could you ask if they serve horse meat too? LOL! We will all be eternally grateful. Awaiting your report. 😉
Is it even legal to sell horse meat in Vancouver? Like how a lot of HK people like to eat roast goose rather than roast duck but you never see roast goose here. I heard it’s illegal? Which is a shame cuz goose tastes so much better than duck =P
It is perfectly legal to sell Horsemeat and Goose here. They are not common, but are remarkably easy to source.
It is illegal in the US to sell Horsemeat so that is probably the source of confusion. It is a big taboo to eat Horsemeat there. (As a matter of interest, Horsemeat is available at supermarkets like Safeway in Quebec).
I did not see it listed in the menu at Lam Hoa Quan…it used to be. I had it there some time last year.
HAHA For sure!
Excellent. I definitely must order the pho ga to try it out. My current favourite is My Chau’s pho ga, but I’m looking forward to trying this.
Chopped up ginger in pho, now that is odd. Must be something special there. I’m Vietnamese and when my mom cooks pho I have never seen her put chopped ginger in the soup before serving it but a whole roasted ginger in the stock pot I have seen.
great post! I’m pretty sure sure you can still order horse meat at Lam Hoa Quan. I don’t think i’ve seen it on the menu but I used to just order it. If you are willing to try horse, you can order horse sashimi at Tsukiji on Garden City and Alderbridge. you’re right about goose tasting better than duck. You can buy roast goose in the Yaohan food court. It’s the corner stall in front of the bubble tea places.
i have never seen chopped up ginger like that. but the chili i believe is the thai bird chili.
We were originally going to stay home for dinner but after reading your post, we decided to try out this Pho place.
My hubby ordered number 15 and he said it is good and comparable to most Pho places.
I ordered number 16 and the boss woman told me it is seafood. So I asked if there is anything else in the soup other than the fried fish cakes. She pointed at the item on the menu and said, ‘do you see anything else listed there?’ I ordered it anyway and it came with fish cakes and some Vietnamese herbs in the soup. The fish cakes were quite similar to the chinese fish cakes (fish paste). The herbs were quite authentic as I haveonly seen it at an other place once before. One looks like celery and another looks like the Chinese Tung Choi (hollow vegetable). There were also a lot of dill in the soup which I found was a bit overpowering. Soup was a bit on the salty side and a bit too much MSG as I felt extremely thirsty afterwards. Most interestingly, it actually came with Lai Fan (the Chinese Rice Spaghetti) that your son wanted! haha
I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now and we rely on your comments to find new places to eat. My hubby and I enjoy your posts and keep it up for us, your fans!
Sorry, correction. I ordered number 17, the Fried Fish Cakes Noodles, rather than number 16!
So, you did not ask for the horse meat pho then, huh? 🙂 At least you had the same kind of encounter with the lady boss as we did. Glad you enjoy reading chowtimes.
I was too scared to ask her more questions. There were quite a few tables there as well and I didn’t want people to stare at me if the lady boss decides to make a scene.
if you want horsemeat, senhor rooster used to serve it once in a while at their old rupert location.
as the previous writer noted, horsemeat and goose are not illegal, it’s probably not as marketable.
another note, horse meat gets more tender the older the horse gets.
BTW…You can buy horsemeat at Columbus Meats at Renfrew and 1st and a few other butchers in town. Free range goose can be purchased at Hills Foods (amongst other places).
Do they take credit cards?
We paid by cash since it was so cheap. But am not sure if they take credit card though. I am not surprised if places like this does not take credit cards.
Dear Ben and Susan,
I was so surprised to see your post on Lam Hoa Quan today! Didnt think you would have the time to come down visit the place just yet since I can guess that there r many many other places on your to-go list that havent been crossed out.
Im glad you enjoyed the Pho there. I usually order their Medium rare and well done beef Pho- pho tai chin (with the rare meat cooked- if that makes any sense to you heehee….I just dont like seeing raw meat in my soup), occasionally with a side of chicken to share.
Ginger in the soup is awesome and in fact, thats how it is supposed to be in the north Vietnam. Other than beef and chicken pho, I dont think their other items are as good…though there bamboo shoot with chicken vermicelli in soup (Bun mang ga) isnt bad either.
The salt and pepper dish they give u is for dipping ..did u use it? Squeeze in some lime and mix it up, it’s for the chicken in your soup. What they don’t give u here is some chop lime leaf bits as garnish on the chicken pho. That would make it even better and more authentic =)
and yes, I agree with you on the lady boss…she is certainly one tough lady lol
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