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.
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.
2077 Dundas Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1J5