Table Phở Two

 

Pho Central Rare Beef Pho

Pho Central Rare Beef Pho

 

Nothing beats a rainy night quite like a large bowl of homemade soup (and Vancouver has plenty of both). If you want to warm up—and spend little money doing it—grab a friend and head to one of these budget-friendly Vietnamese restaurants.

 


 

 

Pho Central Salad Prawn Rolls

Pho Central Salad Prawn Rolls

Pho Central
1118 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 669-8638

 

Pho Central is a popular late night restaurant located in the heart of Davie Street. It’s a small, lively space with only eight tables. The walls are sparsely decorated, and the tables are close together, giving Pho Central a street-food vibe.

 

In the evenings, this is not generally a place to unwind, but a hip spot to meet up with a friend. The space is packed on Friday and Saturday nights with weary bar-hoppers and local residents looking for a little sustenance before heading home (or out to the next club).

 

It’s easy to eat alone here, too, because the tables are small, and the parade of people walking down Davie Street, viewed through the large window, provides plenty of entertainment.

 
The menu offers a wide variety of salad rolls, including: prawns, lemongrass chicken, pork or beef. The meat can be ordered sautéed, minced or grilled.

 

Their most popular appetizer is the prawn salad rolls. They are stuffed with plump, sweet prawns and fresh Thai basil. The rice paper wraps are fresh and light in texture, instead of chewy or dry, like so many late night places can be.

 

The phở here is made with some of the best beef broth I’ve tasted in Vancouver, tangier and thicker than most Vietnamese broths. Their portions are generous too, and noodles are thick and hot. It’s a great deal for only $7.25 a bowl.

 

—Shannon Pidlubny

 


 

Vegetarian Pho at Pho Lin / Photo by Tracey Black / Facebook

Vegetarian Pho at Pho Lin / Photo by Tracey Black / Facebook

 

 

Pho Linh on a quiet evening.

Pho Linh on a quiet evening.

 

Pho Linh
325 East Broadway
Vancouver, BC
604-875-6443

 

Stepping inside Pho Linh, I am greeted by large leafy plants, a homemade “Welcome” sign, and a smiling waitress. Its easy to feel relaxed here, in a room filled with natural sunlight and walls lined with bright paintings from Vietnam.

 

Browsing through the menu, I am impressed with the range of meat-loving and vegetarian items. Two full pages of the menu are dedicated to vegetarian appetizers, mains and phở. Unlike some “vegetarian” soups that replaces the meat with vegetables, but is served in a meat broth, Pho Linh makes a homemade vegetarian soup base from a selection of mushrooms that simmers for eight hours.

 

I sampled the popular vegetarian appetizer platter: tofu salad rolls, tofu skewers and vegetarian spring rolls stuffed with carrots, mushrooms and cabbage. The salad roll was the star player of the platter, served with a homemade peanut sauce and an impressive tangy-sweet vegetarian “fish sauce” made with vegan ingredients.

 

Many of the sauces here are made in-house, including the hot chili paste that sits on the table. The vegetarian spring rolls are crispy and light and provide and nice contrast to the tofu and veggie skewers that are thick with peanut sauce.

 

The vegetarian tofu phở was intense in flavor, the broth made from a medley of mushrooms, garlic and spices. It is popular here among the Main Street crowd, packed with vegetables and chunks of grilled tofu. They also offer several other meatless soups including hot and sour and spicy lemon grass.

 

Pho Linh is convenient to get to, just steps away from major bus routes along Main and Broadway.

 

—Shannon Pidlubny

 


 

 

Mui Ngo Gai’s bún mọc soup

Mui Ngo Gai’s bún mọc soup

 

Mui Ngo Gai
2052 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 876-8885

 

At Victoria and Kingsway, Mui Ngo Gai is positioned near a half-dozen similar Vietnamese restaurants.

 

What makes this phở stand out is the noodle selection (large round noodles, flattened phở noodles, yellow egg noodles etc.) and its light translucent (but surprisingly potent) broth. If you’re like me, and enjoy the guilty pleasure of MSG, this place will surely hit the spot.

 

You can also eat well off the beaten path here. The last time this reviewer visited, I tried the bún bò soup—a sour, savoury and spicy concoction topped with pork balls, beef shank and two startling cubes of congealed pig’s blood. Another variation is the bún mọc, which mixes in mushrooms and pork balls, Vietnamese ham, caramelized shallots and tiny round rice noodles.

 

The selection of specialty soups here span the entire country, from Hanoi to My Tho. The interior is nothing special to look at, but with plenty of room and large circular tables, this spot is a solid choice for groups of five or more.

 

—Sarah Berman