To all five of my readers: y’all will know that I enjoy talking about a random topic extensively before bringing up the actual restaurant. Since I find the details of my own life mundane enough to warrant stories of how I ended up at such-and-so restaurant irrelevant, I prefer these kinds of openings as opposed to your more conventional variety. Does this make me somehow underground; different; distinctive? Nay, I think not; I can imagine how annoying it must be, scrolling through blocks of text before you stumble upon the name of the restaurant in bold letters. You wonder to yourself what the purpose of the introduction was, as it typically has nothing to do with food or restaurants on this supposed food blog. Of course, you neglect to dote upon the logic behind this for too long, as unnecessarily wordy verbal descriptions of some meal await you patiently. In any case, I’ll spare you the trouble of having to read a large block of text by simply stating that this post will be about a late night bite at a Pho Hoa in Kensington.
This is what Pho Hoa looks like from the outside at 1am, as I convinced a friend to visit with me following a late movie at Metrotown. Fance, isn’t it? There are various locations scattered throughout Greater Vancouver and North America. There were some suspicious characters in the parking lot, most of whom were definitely not there for pho. They were very clearly not here for that.
The friend was clearly not as much of a fatass as I and ordered a simple Gỏi Cuốn salad roll to eat. It featured cold rice noodle, iceberg lettuce, bean sprouts, julienned pork slices, and shrimp, all rolled up in moistened rice paper and served with a hoisin sauce mixed with plum and peanuts. As I’m allergic to shrimp, I neglected to sample any of this myself.
As there is a minimum charge of $5 for every diner at the table, the companion also ordered a Soda Chanh, or fresh lemon soda.
As I was having pho, we were given a plate of bean sprouts and such. The vegetables and lime seemed to be relatively fresh, although some fo the bean sprouts appeared to be a little more soggy and wilted than others of their kind.
As they are such a large chain and must appeal to the masses, Pho Hoa offers three ranges for their noodle soup for beginners, regulars, and adventurers. As I obviously fall into the last category, I opted for the Phở Chín, Nạm, Gầu, Gân, Vè Dòn, or noodle soup with brisket, flank, tendon, fatty, and crunchy flank. When it came, very little of the brisket was still red and raw for continued cooking in the soup. I would’ve preferred seeing more of it, really. The rest of the meats were acceptable.
The broth itself was not too dynamic in flavour, being both mildly sweet and salty. The noodles were thick yet somewhat chewy, although not unpleasantly so. The bowl of pho was altogether not excellent nor horrible.
Following this experience, I suppose Pho Hoa is adequate enough for those strange, post-midnight pho cravings. No, the location definitely isn’t the cleanest or the friendliest. The service was incredibly distant, although I’m not sure what else one could really expect. The servers kept to their own for the most part. However, their movements were strange and robotic as they took our orders, gave us food, and presented us with the bill. Their cold and calculated performance made the late night excursion even more gruelling. The eeriness and environment are enough to deter me from making a return, regardless of the food. As such, I would only consider coming here if I had no other options, which typically does happen at 1am. Really, though, what else can you expect?
Conclusion: Andy ate a fair amount.