Pho Van on Fraser Street in East Vancouver is a Vietnamese restaurant that’s still kicking it old school. Neon lights, bright red decoration and oversized mirrors take you away to a little hole in the wall in East Asia. The big screen TV in the corner is showcasing a singer on a variety show crooning to Ricky Martin’s “Nobody Wants to be Lonely,” while we enjoy some pho.
Pho Van was busy, but we were seated quickly behind a big Koi fish tank. Tre immediately pointed out a weird looking fish behind me which appeared to be either pregnant or deformed. I was queasy after staring at the fishie for some time and lost my appetite somewhat. Note to self: focus on food — nothing else.
(Clockwise: 1. Bun Bo Hue, spicy beef noodle soup with pig knuckles. 2. Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk 3. Brilliant neon lights.)
Tre ordered a small bowl of beef noodle soup. I ordered the Bun Bo Hue: a spicy noodle soup with beef and pig’s knuckle, and vermicelli. To accompany our soups, we ordered a pork and shrimp salad roll, plus two iced Vietnamese coffees to offset the large amounts of sodium we were about to consume.
Our soups were okay, but nothing exceptional. Tre’s noodles were slightly over cooked and the beef broth tasted very light. A nice little surprise was a piece of daikon radish (not normally found in Pho), which was extremely flavourful. To my disappointment, my Bun Bo Hue was not at all spicy and my broth tasted watery. I think both our soup broths were freshly made, but wasn’t given enough time to stew. The salad roll was only average, but the iced coffees definitely hit the spot.
(Top to bottom: 1. Shrimp and pork slice salad roll. 2. Pho.)
Our meals including taxes and tips came to just under $22, which we thought was a good deal. Pho Van isn’t one of those places we’d go out of our way to return to unless we happen to be in the neighborhood. But if we do, next time around, I’ll switch seats with Tre.
Perfect for: Enjoying Pho while bathed in neon lights and serenaded by bad karaoke.
3370 Fraser Street, Vancouver
— ♠ —