I don’t usually like to eat ‘fast’ food. But when I want a quick meal I often think of some sort of soup. Ramen can be oily and udon freaks me out a little with those wide wormy noodles, but pho is something I can definitely eat pretty much any time.
There were no Vietnamese restaurants where I grew up in Oregon so I think the first time I experienced it was in San Francisco, about 10 years ago. I’ve been hooked ever since. At first I would only get the chicken pho, and even then I wouldn’t touch the chicken balls for fear of death. Sometimes you get quail eggs which I eventually tried and decided I liked. But I was never brave enough to get the traditional beef variety. I’m very fussy about beef, it has to be good quality, lean etc. And because pho is usually really cheap I just had it in my head that they used beef scraps for it.
I don’t go out for lunch often, but when I get asked to go for pho, I often reply ‘pho sure’. We like Joyeaux which is only 2 blocks from the office, but you have to hit it early because people know about this place and it gets packed out. If you’re not claustrophobic and ok eating while other people are screaming and running around you then you’ll love it! For $9 you get what I think is the best beef pho in town (yes, I eat the beef one now!!!). The line is usually out the door by 11:45 and even though all the tables have reserved signs on them, they always seem to find a place for you to sit. You will definitely be sharing your table with strangers, but that’s part of the charm. It’s not the type of place you go to linger over your meal though. You order at the counter, get a number, get shown a place to sit, your food arrives within about a minute and 10 minutes later you’re putting your coat back on to squeeze out of the joint.
I believe pho is magical. It will cure whatever is ailing you including a cold, hangover, or midnight craving. Order yourself up a big bowl of noodles, slather it with hoisin and sirracha and don’t forget to squeeze that lime. All the components they give you for pho make a perfect medley so you have to enjoy them all to get the full experience.
Other places in Vancouver I like for pho are:
- Pho Express – at the International Food Court on Hornby
- Viet Sub – it’s in my hood and does the trick
But be warned, Pho Hoa which is a chain, seems to use a lot more MSG than anywhere else I’ve been. I like to think the Joyeaux is MSG free, but even if they’re not, your mouth doesn’t feel like a salt lick after lunch there.
So drop your Cup o’ Noodles and stop buying that Lipton crap in the packet, and go find yourself a good pho place for the next time you are in need.