Initially, when we had visited Gilmore Restaurant a few months ago, we weren't aware that it was set to close a few weeks later. That probably explained why the food was gawd-awful and completely unappetizing. I guess restaurants of that ilk are slowly (or quickly) being squeezed out by more modern joints. Shortly after its official closure, I received an email from its new owners who were planning to open a Vietnamese restaurant at that location. I was pretty pleased with this development as the selection of Vietnamese food in North Burnaby can only be described as limited. And since my schedule is limited as well, they were nice enough to include Viv and kids too.
On this invited visited, we were able to order a wide range of food starting with the Spring Rolls. I really liked how they used rice wrappers, however, it was slightly dry (although crunchy). Not surprising as rice wrappers dry out very quickly. On the other hand, the filling was moist and flavourful, particularly from the sweet onions. Our first bowl of noodles (because we had many) was the Bun Bo Hue. I would've preferred some pork's blood and knuckle, but there was enough brisket and ham to make up for it. While being meaty, the brisket could've stood to be a touch more tender. Although we didn't get any lemongrass hints, the flavours were full-bodied and rich. There was some spiciness to accent the strong soup base.
Next up was the Pho Dac Biet which featured a sweet and aromatic broth. It was on the lighter side, yet that also meant little to no-MSG. The noodles were nicely al dente while the meats were pretty much similar to the brisket in the Bun Bo Hue (could be a touch more tender). The last of our noodles was the Mi Dac Biet which tried to replicate the one found at Phnom Penh. In terms of appearance and ingredients, it pretty much did that. The egg noodles were the desired chewiness, yet could've benefited from more sauce for flavour and texture (yet there was some nice aromatics from the fried onions). As for the ingredients, the shrimp had a nice snap while the squid was just barely cooked which ensured that it wouldn't be tough. The fried shrimp "wonton" was an interesting addition to the noodles.
Predictably, we ordered the Lemongrass Chicken on Rice with a fried egg. The rice itself was chewy with just the right amount of moisture while the fried egg had a nice runny yolk. The chicken was tender, juicy and flavourful which could've been charred just a bit more. Other than that, this was a solid plate of food. Lastly, I couldn't resist trying their Banh Mi Dac Biet, even though we were bursting at the seams. For a non-banh mi joint, this was a pretty good. The airy bread was toasted and crunchy while the ingredients (including cucumber, pepper, cilantro and pickled daikon and carrots) were solid. We loved that there was enough pate, butter-mayo and Maggi sauce that ensured there was moisture and flavour. Moreover, there was no absence of meat. To end things off, we had the Che Ba Mau consisting of coconut cream with ice, pandan jelly, red and green beans. This was a sweet ending to a satisfying meal. Overall, we thought this was above-average Vietnamese especially considering the competition, or lack of, nearby.
*Note: This was an invited dinner where all food was comped*
- Nicely renovated and clean, including the washrooms
- Decent eats
- Price points are reasonable
- A few things here and there could be better, but nothing is perfect
- Pho broth could use more depth