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Category: Vietnamese Page 1 of 4

Sing Sing Beer Bar

Looking for an easy dinner on Main Street we found ourselves drawn in by the bright lights letting us know we could “drink beer here”. Their front window is as direct: the restaurant’s name on a neon beer bottle label, hovering over a sea of crushed up beer cans. And their sandwich board chimes in letting you know that you can also enjoy pho and pizza within.

The restaurant is brand new, crisp with new floor boards and tables that match in light birch, spacious with vaulted ceilings showcasing exposed wood beams. The room is set up like a beer hall with cafeteria tables, bar tops, and televised sporting matches. Although with the noise level you really can’t enjoy the latter. This is one of those places where you need to read lips to understand, and yell to talk. Plus you have to be in the bar area to get a decent view of any screen. Beer cans line the top of the actual bar. While you wait for a table, you can order here from all the options listed on papers, held in place with magnets, on back lit panels.

Seating is first come first serve, although there is a hostess by the door to greet you. She suggested grabbing a beer by the bar first and standing with it until a table cleared. Once you see a party start to leave and you dash over to claim their seat for yourself. I don’t like this style of self seating, because you end up hovering and rushing the party out before they are ready. Then you sit before the table has been cleaned.

Our meal began with us pushing left over food particles to the side with a folded menu. And there it sat until eventually, a waitress came by and pushed the rest of it on to the floor with a dirty rag. However, most of it landed on the bench next to my guest and the clothing she had over it. There aren’t any hooks for bags or jackets and it is either sit on it, have it over you, or beside you.

We were able to grab the corner of one of the large share tables and were given enough breathing room to sit and enjoy our meal without being shoulder to shoulder with the patrons next to us.

To start I ordered their signature cocktail, which is basically a spiked Vietnamese coffee. The “Sing sing ca phe” is available hot or chilled, I went with the former given the weather this evening. Bows and arrows coffee, suntory toki Japanese whiskey, sweetened condensed milk, fee brothers black walnut bitters, and cocoa nib syrup. It was as strong as I expected, but I would have liked it with more condense milk and for some of that listed chocolate flavouring to come through.

For food we tried both their pho and their pizza. The “Pho ga sing sing” smells like pho, but isn’t like any rice noodle dish with hot broth that I have ever had, and given the ingredient list it is probably the same for you too. Roast chicken, basil, sprouts, and quail eggs. The flavour went together, yet contradicted. The broth was light, yet heavy with an almost sour and tangy taste. It finished clean, yet was rich. It was a little too salty, but also packed full of varying flavours. But all together it was almost flat on its own, it need something else in between bites, another element, maybe more chicken slices and/or quail eggs to change the flavour and keep your interest. Even the traditional squeeze bottle of brown sauce would have helped. Overall this was was different and I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t need repeating. However, I would like quail eggs in any of my noodle soups in the future.

For pizza we went with the “Carne piccante” with brisket, bacon, and pepperoni. It is as cheesy as it smelled. Plenty of Parmesan to pair with the loaded sesame seed crust. The crust was a nice nod to their Vietnamese theme, paired with the meaty brisket chunks seasoned fully in familiar Vietnamese flavours. I know don’t if I like the price given how little pizza we got, but it at least tasted elevated. Meaty with a crunchy crust. Although at the end of the day, pizza for me is best chewy and doughy with more for less.

As for the service, we saw a rotation of servers walk by us, but we didn’t get the full service that you would from a restaurant that you didn’t have to seat yourself. Our server didn’t bring us water, nor did she offer any, and it was too hard to track someone down to ask for some in the end. Especially with a loud dining area, packed tight tables with narrow pathways in between each, and the set up of communal cutlery and menus that live on the table as permanent fixtures.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This place is different. Vietnamese restaurant, Beer hall, and pizza parlour all rolled into one. Giving diners who love all three the ability to have all three at once. They also serve as a safe space for those unfamiliar with Vietnamese flavours and pho; giving them the ability to taste and try, with plenty of beer to wash anything they don’t like down. A cool place to visit with a large group, but not advised for date night or a catch up session if you are planning to talk to one another. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SING SING
2718 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5T 3E8
604-336-9556
singsingbeerbar.com

Mr. Red Cafe

“Mr. Red Cafe” is a well known Vietnamese restaurant that specializes in North Vietnamese cuisine. They have been a long standing staple, therefore it is surprising that I am only just now visiting them. And lucky me, I was here with the best tour guide, acclaimed foodie and blogger extraordinaire “@foodologyca”.

She took the helm when it came to ordering, as I took in the decor. This cafe was transformed into a tropical rain forest with plenty of live greenery. Against a red brick wall a straw thatched roof was erected with wooden masks and straw lanterns hanging above. Whicker, wood, and bamboo really helped to complete the island vibe. They matched the straw and banana leaves that a few of our dishes were served on.

Like the “Vong village’s deep fry young rice cake with ground shrimp and pork”. They were essentially irregular, hand shaped meat patties. They had a gummy quality to them, similar to that of dim sum; but with the classic Vietnamese tangy fish sauce to dip them into.

The “Grilled beef wrapped in la lot leaves” was a handsome platter served with vermicelli noodle, fresh herbs, crushed peanuts, and fried shallots. Accompanied by the same light fish sauce again. I liked the meatiness of the sausage filling, but not the bitterness of the leaves that engulfed them. To help balance it out, I sought out more fish sauce and citrus, with the peanut for crunch. I would have also liked some vegetable and/or pickle within the leaves to give depth to the one toned meat log.

The “Mr. Red cafe spicy beef noodle soup” was inspired by hue style noodle soups, serve with assorted beef and pork ham slices, topped with green onion, cilantro, basil, and bean spouts. It wasn’t too spicy, a hearty and deep broth that warmed you to the core. No complaints.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
With an extensive menu filled with so much more to try, I would love to return when craving Vietnamese cuisine. A collection of platters, set meals, sandwiches, omelettes, soups, and wraps to keep you coming back for more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MR RED CAFE
2131 E Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1V2
604-710-9515
mrredcafe.ca
Mr. Red Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dundas Eat + Drink revist

I have recently visited “Dundas Eat + Drink” to take on their newest food challenge: a giant vegan serving of their authentic Vietnamese noodle soup: bun bo hue. To see what that is all about, check out my vlog where I go head to head with this 3lbs of deliciousness.

 

However, today I was back at “Dundas” for a regular meal. You can’t really tell from their name, but they serve a full menu of authentic and delicious Vietnamese dishes; all made by their chef, a mother who has raised her lucky children and family on such fare.

 

Given the area and the want to drive local customers through their door, the more generic name does make sense. They have branded themselves as an eatery in order to appeal to their neighbours and those driving out of downtown. However, it seems like such a miss to not make note of the fantastic Vietnamese restaurant that is at its core. And how it is family run with their matriarch behind the stove.

Similarly, the decor doesn’t really speak to the cuisine, although this was for the better. The posher setting had you appreciating the value of the menu carved in wood, that laid before you. Everything was reasonably priced, you’d expect it to cost more given the decor and how good the food was. It had the flavours and the comfort of street food, but crafted with the aesthetics of casual plates, worthy of photographing.

But then there was the chalkboard bar in the corner, with beers on tap and the game splashed across three flat screens. All this made more sense under their “Dundas Eat + Drink” title. Giving it a well branded, sports bar feel; even more so with the banner outside, advertising that they broadcast all UFC matches. This, instead of fostering the more familiar hole in the wall, Vietnamese restaurant feel.

Their interwoven logo found its way onto the wooden planks of the dining room walls, and on a couple of the tiles in the washroom. Logos were on each carved and torched menu, on every paper napkin handed out, and etched on each glass candle holder that provided ambience light. I guess cohesive and literal branding is one of the perks of also running a print shop, where you can do all the above for yourself.

As for the food, they offer an extensive vegan menu with over 15 different options to choose from. I thought about exploring this a little more, and really focusing this post on how it stands up against its meat-full versions. But instead, followed my stomach and sought out some of their more authentic Vietnamese flavours.

But not before trying their “avocado fries”. Sliced up pieces of avocado, breaded and deep fried for a nice crunch. Each crunch, hiding a centre of creaminess. The house made chilli mayo for dipping was a nice balance for all the heavier flavours. It was tangy and bright, giving each bite a further whipped sensation and another level of complexity.

To match with our deep friend veg we also ordered a pound of their fried chicken wings, with 6 flavours to choose from. We went with the most popular, their “house special”, which had a variety of textures and flavours. A good crispy coating with chunky bites, mildly spicy and fairly peppery. It was best dipped into their house made blue cheese sauce that came with it. Tasty enough, but I felt like I would have enjoyed either one of their classic wing flavours or their Vietnamese focus ones more. Spicy buffalo, tamarind, garlic butter, honey garlic, and salt and pepper.

We thought a great way to try a handful of their more meaty offerings was to customize an order and build our own rice dish. You basically choose main proteins or a handful of them, like we did and have them with jasmine rice, cucumbers, lettuce, pickled daikon and carrots. All topped with fried onions, and a healthy dose of their Vietnamese vinaigrette sauce. What started as lemon grass chicken, now included beef short ribs for $4 more, a spring roll for another $3, and a sunny side up egg for a toonie.

The blackened grill of the chicken was a tad acrid, but under the burnt skin was juicy dark meat. We don’t get much lemongrass flavour, but it was still a tasty piece of meat. Although I much prefer the short ribs, they were so tender and so easy to pull meat from bone. The spring rolls were tasty, in hindsight we should ordered two so that we didn’t have to share. And the sunny side egg just rounded out the dish off, adding an additional texture and some sauciness to the rice with its runny yolk.

The “Sate beef”, specialty noodle soup came highly recommend by our very knowledgeable server. She pointed out that she has yet to see the following offered in beef or chicken anywhere else, and on any other menu but their’s. This was reason enough to give it a try, and it ended up being my favourite dish of the night. Rare beef in a spicy peanut and coconut broth. It was like curry and pho melded together in delicious harmony. Creamy and buttery, it reminded me of satay. Great if you love peanuts and bold soupy flavours. When we got it, the meat was already fully cooked, whereas I would have liked to see the beef red and raw as its description promised. But overall I was very impressed by this and how generous they were with the thin slices of beef.

We were full, but had to try a couple of their desserts. They all weren’t traditional Vietnamese sweets, but special in that the same chef who prepared all the dishes before makes all their desserts the day of as well. Impressive as most restaurants tend to buy out, for their cheesecake and chocolate cake. Even more so if their chef isn’t a trained pastry chef. We were not disappointed.

The “Dundas cheesecake” was a New York style cheesecake with berry toppings. And it was everything that my guest and I like in a cheesecake. A whipped creamy texture, but still fluffy. The raspberry topping was the perfect amount of sweetness and tang to pair with the saltiness of the cheese. I just wanted more graham cracker crumb crust and less cheesecake for a more even ratio of the two per bite.

The “Mango n sticky rice” is a Thai dessert topped with coconut milk, therefore a great option for vegans looking for a little sweetness after their meal. There were familiar flavours, ones that I wanted more of in varying degrees than what I got. I found it a tad too fragrant with the flavour of the toasted sesame seeds, maybe less of them, to balance this out, could help. I liked the faint flavour of pandan and wanted more of it from the rice. It was wonderfully intertwined with the silky coconut milk, and the fresh mango side offered some sweetness to the lot. I just wished it was in season. This is a dessert I would come back for more of. It paired well with the green tea and pandan brew they were offering with the meal.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I am hooked, after this visit I have several reasons to want to visit again, and soon. They make for a great spot to meet up with a friend for a good cost effective meal. Half way between city and my home. Coquitlam versus west end. I would go out of my way to “Dundas”, despite the distance from my work or home, for either a bowl of their sate beef or their vegan bun bo hue, should the right craving arise. That and be sure to follow it with one of their pandan desserts. They are also really good for drinks, $5 for a 6oz glass of the house red or white, any time of day. All served by friendly staff who engage in your party and are very welcoming. They love their food and are able to speak to it. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DUNDAS EAT & DRINK
2077 Dundas Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1J5
604-420-1200
eatdundas.com

Giant Vegan Pho Challenge at Dundas Pho

The restaurant that brought Vancouver its first big bowl pho challenge is back with another!

It has been a year since “Dundas Eat + Drink” gave us their 6lbs “Six-O-Pho” challenge. And with the colder weather upon us, they’ve reckoned its time to launch another. This is their 3lbs “Vegan Bún bò Huế” challenge. It is 100% plant based, meaning this opens the doors for a lot more competitors.

 

And once again, I am honoured to be able to be the first one to attempt this challenge, and to road test it for them. To check out how I faired, and to get an idea of what’s it like to take on an eating challenge, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Bún bò Huế is a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli and beef. The dish is best known for its balance of spicy, sour, salty, and umami flavours. This version is as tasty as its reputation suggests; made with deep fried tofu, king oyster mushrooms, and vegan Vietnamese ham. All the above gives the bowl plenty of taste and texture; along with the rice noodle base, and the mix of raw green onions, red onions, and cilantro for topping. But truly the star of this dish is the spicy vegetable broth. Despite its red hue it is actually not that spicy, more of a medium-mild on the heat meter. Delicious and great for chugging, which is helpful considering the challenge requires finishing the entire bowl, including the broth, down to the very last drop.

So now that you know how delicious this serving is, how can you try it for yourself, and better yet beat it?

The challenge is running all through December, it started on the 1st and “Dundas Eat + Drink” continue to host customers until the 31st. Each competitor pays $25 to play, win of lose the price is set. If you finish the entire bowl in under 20 min, you will win an instant prize! Then the 5 fastest contestants will be invited back for round two. This is a winner’s table where all 5 will face off against one another, in the hopes of winning the grand prize, valued at $500!

As they did last year, the extra large bowl of noodles will continue to be available for order after December 2018, although the price will increase to $30. To reminisce over last’s year’s meat heavy pho challenge, click on the link to watch my attempt video.

 

DUNDAS EAT + DRINK
2077 Dundas Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1J5
604-420-1200
eatdundas.com

Bánh Mi Très Bon

Today we were traveling around Richmond, taking on the “Dumpling Trail”, a self guided tour that took you on a journey to taste 13 different kinds of dumplings across 20 different restaurants, all vetted and vouched for by “Tourism Richmond”. “Banh Mi Tres Bon” is the latest restaurant to be inducted to this list and their “banh bot loc”, the newest dumpling you can try on the “trail”.

 

To check out all our achievements on the trail, and too learn more about the dumplings featured at “Banh Mi Tres Bon”, check out the latest video on my channel: MaggiMei.

They are not just a causal Vietnamese restaurant, this little cafe has character. A collection of art and knick knacks littering the room makes the space feel smaller and more live in. A decorative old timey bicycle with giant wheel, geodes and crystals, stuffed plush, and hanging decorative hot air balloons. In the corner was a little nook with upholstered chaises and books facing out on a shelf. And the soft melodic music in the background, furthered the above with its calming ballads.

In tune with the cafe feel there was a showcase by the register offering character macarons and individual sized cakes. But we were here for their savoury dishes, as spelled out on their memorable wooden menus.

“Banh bot loc” are Vietnamese shrimp and pork dumplings served with fish sauce. You pour the latter over the former, and enjoy the salty and sweet with the chewy and starchy of these dumplings. A taste and texture, I very much so enjoyed.

Another type of dumpling that wasn’t on the menu, but we were lucky enough to be treated to, were these mung bean rounds. With a pork filling and a fish sauce dip, they were similar to the above, but different with its gummy exterior and fried onion topping.

When visiting “Banh Mi Tres Bon”, their “Savoury mini crepes” are also worth trying. Served in their very own sizzling skillet, with all the tools you need to remove each round. It is suggested that you do this before pouring the fish sauce over the mini crepe. This is to ensure that you get the full experience of a crispy cup housing the salty meat filling.

I highly recommend their “Butter garlic chicken wings”. Crispy fried chicken with a buttery finish and a garlicky kick. I could eat a bucket of these in one sitting. Best with a dip into their sweet and salty fish based sauce.

And you don’t visit a resultant called “Banh Mi Tres Bon”, without trying one of their banh mi. And with their “Banh mi trio”, you can try 3 out of 7 of their Vietnamese sub offerings as a flight. Each has the same list of vegetables that include carrot, radish, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeño; you are just changing up the protein in between the crispy slices of fresh baguette bread.

The house special had cold cuts of Vietnamese ham and braised pork belly.

The pork meat ball, was more like a minced pork loaf.

And the grilled lemon grass chicken could have used more time on the grill, to allow the pepperiness of the chicken to shine through better.

 

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Not necessarily my go to for Vietnamese cuisine, given the travel time; but a solid option for a quick meal and even take out, when you are in the area. Everything was unique and delicious, and I am told their bone marrow pho is worth coming back for. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BANH MI TRES BON
1840-4720 McClelland Road, Richmond BC
778-928-7298
banhmitresbon.ca
Bánh Mi Très Bon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vietnamese Tea House

Today I was at yet another restaurant competing in the Vancouver Foodster iced tea challenge. This is a newer Vietnamese restaurant on Hastings Street, on a strip already saturated with numerous restaurants offering Vietnamese food. So what sets them apart? An owner hailing from Southern Vietnam, bringing with her authentic Southern Vietnamese cuisine, and slight differences we would learn through eating.

Previous to them moving in this was a sushi restaurant. The change of management brought about a renovation that included pink walls and purple painted detailing. They were a contrast to the homey red tables and matching cushioned chairs. And all the mismatched potted plants offering their green leaves as colouring. This all pointed to a family run business, something that was later confirmed by the owner herself. She spoke to the toils of having to lay the laminate underfoot themselves and the uneven paint job of non-professionals, all done while she was pregnant with her second child.

Other than that it was a nice setting, it was an open space, one that was comfortable to sit in, where many such restaurants try to maximize their dining area with one to many, tightly crammed together tables. Here things were evenly spaced allowing you breathing room and the ability to hold a more private conversation from the table to your right. Everything was also kept very clean.

Their ice tea entry was a pandan flavoured milk tea made with ground and steeped pandan leaves. These leaves were also used to flavoured the cups of water they served, although very mildly, and I wouldn’t have even notice, if this wasn’t pointed out to me. I won’t be going into the actual flavour of the drink here, as the competition is still running. Instead, I will invite you to check back on my blog after the competition has ended, to read my thoughts on each of the drinks competing.

Instead, I will move on to all the food we enjoyed. The “Green papaya salad with beef jerky” was a fresh start to our meal. Thin shreds of carrot and daikon with lettuce, cilantro, beef jerky, fried shallots, and peanuts. It was spiciest at the bottom, where the sauce pooled. Therefore to best enjoy it, you stir up, mixing everything together. Note, it is easier to scoop what you want, then pour the sauce over it. And you will go back for several scoops, as this made for a lovely palette cleanser with a nice cooling crunch. I didn’t notice any of the beef jerky though.

The “Pork spring rolls” were light, crispy, and pretty standard. We got exactly what we expected from this, and was able to dunk each third into plenty of fish sauce.

The “Garlic butter chicken wing” was delicious on first bite. You immediately got the promise of its buttery flavour, peppered full with garlicky goodness, that evenly coated each crispy wing. This was the most memorable dish that we had, and one what I would come back for.

“Lemongrass chicken on rice” is my guest’s go to for Vietnamese food. Whenever she is at any new Vietnamese restaurant, this is the dish she orders, which she then uses as a gauge of food flavour and quality. She liked “Vietnamese Tea House’s” version plenty, but I found the meat a little dry and the amount of ginger textured lemongrass off putting. More so when I was surprised biting into a piece of chicken decorated with it.

The “Chicken curry” was most memorable to my guest. This is the first time she has had a sweeter curry like this, She enjoyed the creaminess of it thanks to its coconut base. Milder curries like these are my preferred type of curry. This one was rich and creamy, with a hint of spicy heat. It is made with tender pieces of dark meat chicken, mashed tomato, and softened potato cooked in a blend of coconut and homogenized milk. You had the option of enjoying it with either rice or bread, we choose the later given that we had rice in the dish before. All this only to learn that the bread that would accompany our soup-sized serving of curry would be the same type of baguette used in their banh mi after. Here we would pinch off bits and use it to sop up liquid curry like a sponge. The bread is the only thing they don’t make from scratch here.

The “Chicken sub” not only used the same bread as above, but the same type of tender and juicy dark meat chicken above as well.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great destination for Vietnamese food. Everything was consistently prepared and I have no complaints, especially after learning that they focus on using only fresh ingredients and prepare everything themselves in house from the sauces and spreads, to all the pickled products. Not necessarily worth driving all the way for, but worth choosing before its neighbours. Don’t deny your cravings.

VIETNAMESE TEA HOUSE
2526 E Hastings, Vancouver BC, V5K 1Z3
604-620-5922

Dundas Six-O-Pho

I, like many others, first came to “Dundas Six-O-Pho” for the novelty of their big bowl pho challenge. And many, like me, weren’t able to beat it. However, the quality of the noddles and the meat in the soup (that we got to taste), was good enough to having us coming back. A return trip, to see see what else the restaurant has to offer, and maybe this time in portions we can actually finish.

To read up on that visit, and to watch my vlog of the food challenge, visit the link below.

Dundas: #sixophochallenge

 

In response to their vegan and vegetarian customers, “Dundas Six-O-Pho” now offers a vegetarian menu. A one page list of nine unique vegetable centric dishes, prepared with Vietnamese influences. So today, myself and a group of bloggers came by to try them, and a few of their Vietnamese-style bar classics as well, during this media event.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The restaurant toggles between being a traditional Vietnamese restaurant and a bar, but with none of the decor from either. Traditional recipes from the kitchen and a fully liquored up counter at the front. The corner bar offers local beers on tap, from a list written in chalk. The dining area centres around a row of starburst light fixtures, and the booths seats that are situated below them. Along the left wall is Vancouver’s city sky line, printed in a mono chromatic grey and used as wallpaper. The only outlier was the paper mache giraffe that stood by the doorway.

I liked how the wall’s wooden backboard is etched with their logo and restaurant’s name. A little touch that speaks to the pride in their brand and the owner’s side business. The owner of “Dundas Six O Pho” also does wood carving and glass etching. Which he uses to customize and brand his restaurant. All the beer glasses are etched, much like their walls, wooden tables, and wooden serving trays. They even have umbrellas, plastic take out bags, and tee shirts with this logo. The latter the staff wore as their uniform. It was cohesively done, and I was impressed by the detail of it.

I also really like the music they played. It was upbeat and fun, with hits off the top forty charts from the last two decades. It went from “Sky’s” “Some kind of wonderful” to “Benny Benassi’s” “Satisfaction” and “I love my sex”.

To start with, we enjoyed some modern drinks, along with the traditional.

The traditional Vietnamese style drip coffee with condense milk and ice.

A flight of beer served with their branded flight paddle.

And some flavoured sodas: pomegranate and hibiscus cream soda, ginger turmeric, and lemonade.

We began the eating portion of our afternoon with five of their new vegan options.

The vegetarian salad was composed of mixed greens, bean sprouts, fried shallots, fried tofu, tomatoes, and cucumber. It was generously drizzled with a tangy garlic sauce. It made for a good start, as a flavourful salad. I appreciated how they incorporated Vietnamese flavours into this with the use of beansprouts and fried shallots, I have yet to enjoy either in any other salad.

The vegan curry was hearty with a long lingering spice. A coconut base with mushroom, carrot, eggplant, fried tofu, and coloured pepper. Plenty of vegetables to give you plenty of interest.

The “Vegan bao sliders” were filled with minced tofu, lots of coloured onions, and pickled carrot. I am not a fan of this much onion as it, but even when I scooped them out, the slider still had a lot of flavour. This was thanks to the tasty gravy, that I could have just dipped the soft and chewy bao into, and eaten like fries and ketchup.

The “Veggie pho” was prepared with a simmered vegetable broth, it features more fried tofu, and plenty of seasoned vegetables like broccoli, baby bok choy, and carrots cut into flowers. It was a clean and tasty broth, not what I think of when I think pho, but a tasty soup base to lap up all of. The shallots were my favourite topping, they offered crunch and a nice zesty flavour.

The “Vegan Pad Thai” was my favourite out of all the vegetarian friendly dishes. broccoli, mushroom, carrot, green onions, and more fried tofu. This classic dish doesn’t need meat if they get the sauce and noodles right, and they did. Not traditional tasting with a lot of tamarind, or too tangy with a ketchupy flavour (to quote @dennispang). Just a nice sweet and salty flavour to enjoy over chewy noodles and crisp vegetables.

The “Deep fried wontons” are filled with vegetables, and served with their house special tangy sauce. The sauce looks like, but is not the typical Vietnamese fish sauce. But they do provide some acid to help cut away the grease of the fried wontons. You can enjoy said wontons crispy as is, with the sauce to flavour, or order them over your vegetarian pho like below.

Just be warmed, if you do, you have to eat fast as the wonton skins get soggy quickly, bobbing around in the broth.

Now we get in to “Dundas Six-O-Pho” house specials and a few of their more popular dishes with meat and seafood included.

The “Sizzling rice platter” is quite the spectacle. It is available in chicken, beef, or prawn. We had the chewy chunks of “Shaken beef”. The sizzling serving comes hissing on a hot plate with red and green peppers, onion, and plenty of black ground pepper. I liked how the rice on the side cooks a little more, with the bottom ending up crispier like fried rice.

Like the sizzling plate, they offer plates of rice served with your choice of protein. This is their “Lemongrass chicken rice”. Beautifully grilled chicken with a delightful char presented with a healthy serving of rice, raw cucumber and tomato slices, and a leaf lettuce salad with pickled daikon and carrot. Nothing much to say, except this was a Vietnamese classic done wonderfully, I would have this for dinner any day.

All their pho noodle soups are prepared with a chicken and beef broth. The broth is simmered for over 16 hours in star anise, cinnamon, roasted ginger and onion. The finished product includes rice noodle, cilantro, onion, fresh bean sprout, thai basil, and lime. This specifically is their “Pho sate”. It is made spicy with a spicy peanut and coconut broth.

I would recommend “The Dundas Platter” for anyone looking to try a little bite of everything, or for sharing as a starter. It comes with one crispy spring roll, one fresh salad roll, a chicken satay skewer, a beer skewer, and plenty of cassava fries. All with a side of vinaigrette sauce, peanut sauce, and house special sauce to cater to your dipping preference. Another tried an true assembly of just good Vietnamese food.

The “Asia burger” was an interesting interpretation. This black sesame topped brioche bun sandwiches, bean sprouts, pickled slaw, jalapeños, a beef patty, a fried egg, and fried shallots. It is definitely one of those burgers you can’t put down, lest it falls apart, there is just so much in it. It is also the first burger I have ever had with beansprouts and fried shallots as toppings, which gave a few bites some great textural interest. And in my opinion, any time you add in a fried sunny sun up egg, you are in for a good time. Because the messier it is the tastier it is. And if that is not enough food, it also comes with a healthy side of fries and a sriracha aioli for dipping.

And my favourite dish of the day and certainly the one you have to come down for, because it is not available anywhere else: is their “Dungeness Dundas Nachos”. This is one of the most creative spins I have ever seen done to nachos. It uses golden fried wonton chips that they top with hand pulled Dungeness crab meat, a tofu scramble, tomatoes, olives, capers, pickled onion, cheese and jalapeños. All this is drizzle over with their creamy jappa mayo and sprinkled with chives. And still comes with a side of their house made fresh cilantro mango salsa and more even mayo for dipping. Every bite was a different experience, giving you many reasons to pick the plate clean. Words cannot do this justice, jut try it for yourself.

And for dessert we ended with their fried to order “Deep fried bananas”. You get a whole banana and a scoop of ice cream. The batter was fried to a light crisp, and not greasy, just airy. It generously coated creamy sweet banana, drizzled in a chocolate sauce for that extra decadence. Not to be missed as well.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A really fun spot for Vietnamese fusion. The flavours you love, in a setting you want to share with your friends. And with a unique menu that will have you returning for more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DUNDAS PHO
2077 Dundas Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1J5
604-420-1200
eatdundas.com

Pho 99 Broadway Tech Centre

My guest and I were looking for an easy lunch option by our homes. She recommended the newly open “Pho 99”, which turned out to be the nicest restaurant that I have ever visited for quick and inexpensive Vietnamese food.

The all glass exterior allowed in plenty of natural light, allowing you to clearly take in how new the place was. The walls were still a pristine white. All the bleach wood tables were still sharp, with pointed corners and a waxy finish that matched that of the chairs before them.

The menu was a book, coloured page after coloured page of Vietnamese soup, salads, and sandwiches. We got a few of our favourite dishes as a good gauge of their cooking.

This is their “Grilled chicken banh mi”, except we ordered it without cilantro and the meat pâté, to the preference of my guest. The sandwich was black pepper heavy. I would have liked it with more creamy mayo and for the vegetables to have more vinegar tang to them, the weren’t pickled or seasoned for that tell-a-tale flavour.

We added one “fried roll” to our order of the “Veggie marinated grilled lemon grass chicken”. My guest doesn’t like peanuts, green onions, and bean sprouts so we had this serving without all three. Sadly, I found it lacking without the additional toppings for their refreshing nature and crunch. The bowl tasted like a deconstructed salad roll or pho without the soup. The side of fish sauce did help to give it some flavour and life.

The “Combo roll” gave you a taste of three of their different appetizers. The salad roll with vermicelli, lettuce, and shrimp utilized the peanut based sauce for taste. Similarly, the peanut sauce gave the pork roll some depth of flavour. Although there was plenty of excess noodle and wrap, as we discarded the ends. The fried roll here was the same as above. It came out extra oily, and still hot from the fry throughout. The fish sauce was key here in balancing out the oil with some acid.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall, everything was standard. The food was as expected and the service delivered. It is your typical chain. If you are looking for deep cultural experience you won’t get it here. But they are a great addition for the community with the neighbouring school, businesses, and corporate offices. Making them a great lunch or after work/school destination. Especially as thy are located so close the Renfrew skytrain station. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PHO 99
2915 Hebb Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5M 3M4
604-255-3135
Pho 99 Broadway Tech Centre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dundas: #sixophochallenge

Thanks to “Dundas Pho”, Vancouver finally has a big bowl pho challenge to call its own. Back when I first began eating gross amounts of food for leisure, it was the large bowl of pho from Seattle that inspired me. So to have such a challenge in the city that I love, and to be one of the first few individuals to give it a try, I was ecstatic.

Admittedly I haven’t heard of “Dundas Pho” until today, nor would I have gone out of my way to visit them. However this competition is the sort of thing to put them on the map. A reason for you to travel far and wide to them. And a lure to have you coming in to see what it and they are all about.

As we waited for our large servings of meat and noodles to arrive, it gave me an opportunity to check out their menu. They covered bar-style tapas like nachos and wings, and Vietnamese favourites like banh mi and spring rolls, across a handful of coloured pages. The vivid photography certainly had me planning a return trip, in order to try what else they offered; in more reasonable portions, of course.

The #sixophochallenge will only be running from December 18th to the 31st of 2017, so be sure to take advantage and visit them within this time frame. However there will be limited quantities of the largest bowl of pho in the city, prepared per day. They don’t take reservations so it is a first come first served affair. So come early and come hungry, between 5-10pm, daily.

What it is, is 5lbs of meat and noodles with an additional 3lbs of chicken and beef broth submerging it. However, the contest rules state that you need only finish the three different types of beef and the vermicelli noodles to be deemed successful. You can leave the soup behind, but be warned eat fast or else the noodles do soak up the broth, adding to their volume.

You are given 30 minutes to finish, and each successful contest gets their meal for free. With the fastest three completion times, within the two week long challenge, earning additional prizes. First place with the fastest diner earns a $100 cash prize and their name on a trophy. Second and third place winners receive a $25 gift card to the restaurant. Winners will be announced on January 2nd of the new year.

And if at first you don’t succeed, you are more than welcome to try again. And even if you were successful, you can do so again in hopes of earning a better time. However, if you are unsuccessful it will cost you $34.95 to play. But at least you are able to take what you can’t finish home, not that it will be as appetizing then.

Instead of describing to you the nuances of the challenge, and the emotions that those who attempted it went through; Instead, I suggest you check out my video recap of the night. In my latest video, myself and four other gluttonous food lovers take on this uphill battle.

 

And after watching it, if you still dare, or feel up to the challenge, I suggest you head down to “Dundas Pho” soon to test your might. Otherwise you are more than welcome to order the 5lb pho in its large bowl, and share it and the cost between your family or a group of friends. After all it is a delicious serving of pho. Quality ingredients made fresh to order, with no MSG.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The challenge got me through the door, their friendly staff and glossy menu will have me coming back. This visit was enough to peak my curiosity, to see what they are normally all about. Don’t deny your cravings.

DUNDAS PHO
2077 Dundas Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1J5
604-420-1200
eatdundas.com
Dundas Eat + Drink Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

House Special, revisit

“House Special” is one of those restaurants that I find myself going back to time and time again, mostly for their quality fusion Vietnamese cuisine. And each time I do, I am never disappointed. Not only do they deliver on consistency (’cause I always order my favourites when I visit), but they cater to occasions and the changing times, ensuring they stay relevant and continue to offer regulars (like myself) something new to look forward to.

To read up on a pass visit, which includes a detailed look at their decor, visit the link below.
http://vieamaggi.com/house-special-modern-vietnamese/

On this visit, their participation in the “Vancouver Foodster”caesar challenge brought me back through the door, and coincidentally on “National Caesar Day”, of all days. Their creation was a marvel, bringing together their Vietnamese heritage with this Canadian classic. Every part of this cocktail was made in house from the 11 spice rim, to their tomato juice mix and all the garnishes that embellished it. The former included curry powder for heat, and the exchanging of traditional clam juice for the popular vietnamese fish sauce. You get your choice of spirits, both infused in house and served as a double: a lemon grass vodka or a keffir lime gin. And continuing in your ability to customize your own caesar, you also have your choice of garnish: veggie spring roll, deep fried tofu, satay chicken, or bettle beef. We went all out with their “Night Market caesar” ordering all of the above. It ate just as much as a meal, as it did drink like a cocktail.

But sadly this is no longer available for you to try or order, however to relive it with me here, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei; and watch this masterpiece being assembled.

 

As much food as the above was, you don’t come to “House Special” without indulging in their beautifully presented plates. Like the “Pho bo vien soup dumplings”, handmade with a tender beef filling, sitting in an incapsulated pool of pho broth. Which released a wave of warm liquid into your mouth as soon as you bit in to it, very much like the popular Chinese “xiao long bao”. However Vietnamese fusion interpretation included sriracha caviar, hoisin sauce, micro basil, and a calamansi wedge; for a furthered depth of flavour. If you chose to lick the spoon, each dumpling came on clean, that is where you got the sweet and salty sauce. You tasted it as it dragged across your tongue, finished with a refreshing mint end. The only thing I would have liked was more soup hiding within the dumpling, and a thicker layer of dough to balance the dense meat ball it was wrapped around.

Their “Spring rolls” were filled with crispy shrimp and pork, served with a nuoc cham dipping sauce and a side of Vietnamese herbs. You could tell this was fried to order by how hot it was throughout. When it finally cooled down we immensely enjoyed its crispy skin and chewy centre.

One of my favourites to have and recommend is their “Coconut shrimp cakes”, I have never had anything else like it. Coconut rice cakes topped with shrimp and pork, cucumber, carrot, and Vietnamese herbs. Then dressed with a nuoc cham drizzle and sambal. It is sweet, spicy, and fishy. The sweet coconut flavour is pronouced, helping to dull the spices and highlight the proteins and vegetables by comparison.

On this day, their “Daily fried bread” was made and fried from scratch, then served loaded with duck confit. It is basically a pita: crusty bread hollowed out and filled with savoury ingredients. Pulled duck meat with hoisin and pickled vegetable; a great tried and true combination of salty and sour.

We also had their “House special” house special pho, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the more obvious pun here. Rice noodles, beef soup, beef cuts, tendon, tripe, bone marrow, bean sprouts, onions, lime, basil, hoisin sauce, and sriracha. It was delicious and you could tell how fresh all the ingredients they used were, but in terms of flavour I found it not much different that the other bowls of clear broth pho, from other full fledged vietnamese restaurants. Good, but why order it when all their appetizer are so great, and a whole lot more unique to them.

And then we were given a sneak peak of one of their upcoming dishes, that at the time, had yet to make it on to their menu. This was a vermicelli noodle dish originating from Northern Vietnam. It is suggested that you utilize the lettuce on the side to make a wrap with. A wrap which would include two different types of grilled pork that were the actual stars of the dish. The pickled papaya in fish sauce was a great accompaniment, and a great palette refresher, with its acidic tang.  As a whole, this was a great comfort dish, and one that I would enjoy again and again.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
As one of my go-to’s for good food and pretty plates, I will no doubt be back and continue to recommend them to others. Don’t deny your cravings.

They also offer brunch now, which is comparable to their appetizers in creativity and quality. Similar sweet and tangy plates, eye catching with bright coloured pickled vegetable and fresh greens. To learn more about their brunch offering, visit my review post below.

House Special, New Brunch Menu

 

HOUSE SPECIAL
1269 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 6K3
778-379-2939
housespecial.ca

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