There it was. Right at the corner of Hastings and Dunlevy. It beckoned to me. It spoke to me. It said, "come eat here"... Why was I attracted to it? Okay, before you get the wrong idea, we're talking about a restaurant folks! In fact, it is a sad-looking restaurant on the Downtown Eastside. Hanoi Pho is the name and eating there is my game. Yes, I had to eat there, despite its location and fairly unwelcoming exterior. Who should I recruit to tackle this food adventure? Why, no one else other than Snake. He's used to slithering around anyways. This wouldn't faze him. In fact, he was hungry and suggested we share some items. I would never turn that down.
We started with the Grilled Chicken Banh Mi which was full of tender charred chicken which was violated (yes, violated) by an obscene amount of butter mayo. They could've been more conservative with it. Also, the bread was not crunchy at all. Snake opted for a bowl of Pho. The broth was dark in colour and looked rich. One sip and whoa... What was that flavour? Licorice-like... Too much star anise? Five-spice (better not)? Whatever the case, my tastebuds were telling me this was flavourful yet completely different than any other Pho broth I've had in town. Was it bad? Well no. In fact, it was good in a strange kinda way. At least it wasn't bland. The noodles were nicely texture while the meats were sliced thin and tender.
For myself, I went for the Dry Noodles and it was a modest portion topped with thin slices of lean BBQ pork and butterflied shrimp. I thought the noodles were perfectly al dente however, they were a bit too heavy handed with the sesame oil as it was the dominant flavour by far. So much so, I could barely taste the soy. I liked the pork as it was moist despite being lean. Same could be said about the shrimp as it was barely cooked, but they did a crappy job deveining the darn things. Seeing how a small bowl of noodles could never satisfy my appetite, I added an order of the Lemongrass Chicken and Pork Chop with Egg on Rice as well. Now this was a very large portion. I thought the meats desperately needed more char, specifically the chicken. On the drier side, the meats were flavourful though. I liked how the egg was free-range and runny. "Not bad" is probably the best way to describe Hanoi Pho. Yes, I'm acutely aware that there are some loyal customers that might be think more highly of the place, but it was just alright for me.
- Decent portions
- Friendly people
- Food wasn't bad per se, but something different about every dish (than I'm used to)
- Not as cheap as one would think considering the location