The last time I was in Whalley looking for Pho T & A (no, not what you think!), I ended up at Pho Tam instead. Previously, the last time I was in Whalley (Tokachi), I passed a police cruiser driving on the other side of the street. He made a U-turn and then I was tailed for a good 5 blocks! Serves me right for having a black SUV and driving through Whalley? Do I look threatening? If I did get pulled over, I wonder what the officer would say if I told him that I wanted "Pho T & A"? I guess that would be Sherman's Jail Adventures. In there, I'd probably get Pho T & A alright... Mostly "A" though...
If Pho Tam wasn't packed, I would've tried it out. I don't know about you, but I hate lineups and I also hate circling for parking. This time, I was lucky that the place wasn't too busy and there plenty of parking. With my choice of any seat in the house, I went for the one near the window and in a corner. That way, they really can't see what I'm doing. Without even looking at the menu, there were a few specials that caught my eye. Special A was any choice of a large Pho with spring roll for $8.95 and Special B was any choice of a large Pho with salad roll for $9.25. I decided to go with the latter.
Before I even got to eat the Shrimp Salad Roll, I was already impressed. Big, fresh-looking shrimp halves resided under the thin rice wrapper. One dip into the thick peanut sauce and crunch! The roll was fresh with crunchy lettuce and sprouts surrounding the rice noodles. I know it is only a salad roll; but this one was good. If you know me by now, there is only one Pho I would choose - the one with the most stuff! I got the Phở Dặc Biệt which consists of well done beef, brisket, tendon and tripe. It is one of the biggest bowls of Pho I've had in the GVRD. The bowl was filled with rice noodles and topped with so much meat, I couldn't see the noodles! One sip of the broth, which was on the sweeter side, yielded a very beefy flavour. The noodles were just right and the meats were tender. For the price I paid, this was a bargain.
On a subsequent visit, I decided to go for the Special A which started with a Spring Roll. Unlike so many "Vietnamese" restaurants in the GVRD, they do not use wheat wrappers here. It totally baffles me why they don't use rice wrappers. It's not like rice wrappers are hard to find! I certainly hope it's not due to people who merely want wheat wrappers which force restaurants to do so. Anyways, I liked the spring roll. It was crunchy and packed full of flavourful pork, veggies and vermicelli. Going for something a bit different, I went for a large bowl of Bún Bò Huế. Once again, there was so much in the way of meat, I swear there was more than the amount of noodles. The combination of pork, Vietnamese ham, brisket and meatballs was awesome; but a chore to eat since there was so much of it. I liked the broth here, it was spicy while not overwhelming the rest of the ingredients. As always, the rice noodles are slippery suckers, they were not overcooked though.
I just can't get enough of this place and to prove it, I went back again with some friends and had the Grilled Shortribs on Rice. Much like all their other dishes, this was huge. Lots of tender, meaty ribs over chewy rice. There was a good char which helped heighten the flavours. I was really stuff after this. It's too bad that I don't live closer, I'd come here every week. Probably the best all around bowls of Pho I've had in awhile. I just have to remember to not circle the block more than a few times. Otherwise, the police will come after me.
- Big bowl of Pho full of noodles and meat
- Quality ingredients and great tasting broth
- Very little parking available; but they do validate the adjacent pay lot
- Much like all Pho places, there is no ambiance whatsoever (who really cares?)