I'm sure you are familiar with my usual yammering about Pho Tam being the "best" Pho in the GVRD. Naturally, food preferences are subjective and really, it might not be the best for some people. Nearly 5 years since my last blog post about the place (I've been there many times since), I thought it would be a good idea to see if Pho Tam is still the best. Gathering up the troops including Big D, Slick, JuJu and Red Light, we set out to not only have a great meal, but to visit the Hockey Shop as well (hey, we all play hockey!).
Sticking with the usual, we went for the combos which included a choice of large noodle soup and either a Spring Roll or Salad Roll. As seen in the picture, the spring roll was constructed with a rice wrapper (bonus points for them) which was fried until super crispy. The filling was meaty and not over-processed. It had a good mix of fish sauce, carrots, onions and wood ear mushrooms. As for the salad roll, it consisted of rice noodles, pork, sprouts, lettuce and meaty shrimp. The rice wrapper was soft while still chewy. However, I found the pork a touch too dry. Also, the dipping sauce was a bit too much on the hoisin side.
Onto the main event, JuJu and I shared 3 items starting with the Pho Dac Biet. There was a good amount of meats including tender brisket, moist rare steak, meatballs, tendon and tripe. The broth was solid as usual with a nice balance of sweetness to go with the natural meat flavours. This time around, I found it less strong as before and it was harder to pick out the individual flavours. Next, we had the Bun Bo Hue, where it was lacking pork knuckle and blood. With that being said, the broth was pretty good though. It was purposefully spicy with mild hints of lemongrass. Unfortunately, the noodles were too soft and broke apart easily. Again, the meats were plentiful and on point.
Lastly, we had the Lemongrass Chicken and Short Ribs on Rice. This was a generous portion of chewy rice topped with fatty and tender short rib. It had a nice char and was well-seasoned. The chicken also sported a char but the meat was quite firm and lacking moisture. It was nicely marinated though as it had a noticeable lemongrass hit. So what's the verdict? Well, Pho Tam is still a solid place for Pho, but I believe (with all of the other places I've visited in the last 5 years) that the competition has closed the gap considerably. In fact, subjectively-speaking, some people will think other places may have the best Pho in town.
- Large portions
- Solid eats
- The competition has caught up IMO
- Parking lot insufficient, but you can park at Safeway and get half of your parking validated