Sherman's Food Adventures: Pho Hoa (Kingsway Vancouver)

Pho Hoa (Kingsway Vancouver)

Probably the most recognizable Vietnamese chain restaurant in North America (and other parts of the world), Pho Hoa is the McDonald's of pho. I've been to locations from Edmonton to San Jose. Despite not looking alike whatsoever physically, the food is generally more-or-less the same at each location. Despite what the pictures says, it's not Pho Harestau. I guess the recession has limited their budget on signage. Tonight, Polka King and I were not being very creative with our eating destination after Wednesday night hockey. Trust me, at 1:30am on a Wednesday, creativeness is extremely limited. So, rather than trying to make it before the 2:00am closing time of most late night joints, we settled on the 24-hr pho.

No matter what others feel about Pho Hoa, I personally don't mind it. Yah I know, nothing will blow you away here. Just because it has grown into a large chain doesn't mean it's bad. Instead, they must be doing something right. Wait, lemme take a step back. Not all chain restaurants are necessarily good; but again, they all have their clientele (everyone has different tastes). I don't know about you, one thing that bugs me is the use of lemons instead of limes when it comes to pho. I realize sometimes limes are just not available; but nonetheless, it ain't the same. One thing that unnerves Polka King when it comes to late night eats is the "shady" characters factor. He believes that many of the clientele of late night establishments belong to the criminal element. Thus, he gets a bit nervous. Therefore, I chose not to use the big honking Speedlite flash. Honestly, he worries too much. I'm sure there are more people stopping by for pho from the sex shop next door than gang members. However, it gives new meaning to "special" sauce...

So on the topic of sauce, I liked the hoisin/peanut sauce that came with my Salad Roll. Often, I get really annoyed that the sauce is way too sweet - not in this case. Not a whole lot to say about the roll itself except that the filling was fresh and crunchy. As always, I went for a large #44 (Phở Chín, Nạm, Gầu, Gân, Sách) which has everything yummy like brisket, flank, tripe and tendon. I find that the broth here to be quite decent. Sure, it's a bit on the thin side; but it isn't offensive. I'm sure there is msg; but it's okay with me in this case. One thing that irritates me about the pho here is the lack of noodles and ingredients. Most other Vietnamese restaurants trump Pho Hoa in terms of value. Polka King had the Lemongrass Pork with rice and spring roll. He remarked that the pork chop was flavourful and not overcooked. Too bad about the spring roll though, he would've preferred a rice flour wrapper rather than wheat. Well, there you have it. A relatively non-offensive Vietnamese meal. Nothing to write home about; but reliable eats, especially when most other places are closed. Well, except for the XXX shop next door; but that serves something other than food...

The Good:
- Reliable food
- Open late
- Okay pricing

The Bad:
- Nothing ground-breaking here
- Place needs a cleaning
- Service? What service?

Pho Hoa (Kingsway) on Urbanspoon