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Pho Don

Have you ever revisited a restaurant and recalled the original occasion being more favourable? Or ordered delivery from a restaurant and found the food so much better at home than in person? Well sadly this was the case with Pho Don in East Vancouver.

I remember when the restaurant first opened a decade ago. I grew up in the area and recalled summers at Playland and PNE, where instead of spending money on expensive and cold Fair food, we would exercise our in and out privileges and cross the street to the outdoor plaza that Pho Don was located in l, for lunch. It was a nice option for quick and inexpensive Vietnamese cuisine, with its eye catching cartoon-ish black and white awning.

Since those bygone days, it has been ages that I have stepped foot back into the spacious restaurant; and sadly time has taken its toll. Worn and disheveled, now this wouldn’t be a restaurant I would gravitate towards normally. However, not being able to see the storefront, have ordered from them on a handful of times through Uber. Although sadly after this latest visit, that might not be the case going forward.

When it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, we tend to order the same few dishes, therefore it is fairly easy to discern what we like and don’t, and how each restaurant compares to one another.

We started with Vietnamese coffee, served drip style in the typical and traditional metal steeper and strainer. All pretty standard and it drank as expected. Chilled with a good punch of caffeine, and very little sweetness from the condense milk at the bottom of the glass that you stir up.

We also ordered one of their Blended fresh fruit smoothies, that offered a contrast. The mango was indeed fresh, served cold it offered a nice palate refresher and dessert in a drink.

For food our go to is the Hue spicy beef vermicelli soup. A thin and clear broth speckled with chilli flakes, it wasn’t a rich as I wanted. It did offer the expected spicy and tangy citrus notes, but was not my favourite rendition of this. Not to mention the meat was on the overcooked side. Luckily there were far more Vietnamese cold cut slices and beef ball halves to contend with.

We also ordered the Grilled chicken on vermicelli. The chicken was tender, but bland with faint char marks. I did like the topping of crushed peanuts for crunch, and the generous amounts of fish sauce on the side to have with it. This along with the bed of unseasoned and raw julienne vegetables and rice noodles. I ate it all with help from the chilli sauce on the side, but could have used more seasonings. Yet again, not memorable and not one that bares repeating.

Sadly, despite my mixed reviews for take out, after this recent revisit I do not believe I will be stopping by in person or ordering from them through delivery food apps in the future.

Pho Don
109 – 2838 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5K 5C5
(604) 255-7778

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