For the longest time in the 90's, Pho Hoa ruled the Vietnamese beef noodle world locally and internationally. Hey, they had a formula that worked, despite being somewhat mediocre compared to the best places in town. But the chain has fallen on hard times as they are disappearing one-by-one. One surprising casualty is the Kingsway location in Burnaby. It has been a fixture as a 24-hour pho joint for as long as I can remember. Now in its place is Pho Boi, another chain seems to be expanding. We checked out the place after Friday hockey.
We actually visited the place twice and on our first go around, I found the Pho broth to be clean while extremely light. It was not heavy with the MSG nor salt. Hence, it was only slightly aromatic without much impact. The noodles were al dente while the meats were sliced thin and tender. It was modest in portion size though. As for my side Spring Roll, it was crispy with an obvious amount of grease. The filling was packed fairly tight so that the roll was substantial and firm. It was lightly seasoned with only a touch of sweetness. Not a bad spring roll, but as you can see, the grease wasn't that appealing.
Milhouse had the Hot & Sour Seafood Soup which was really neither of those flavours. Rather, it was mild with only slight hints of tang and practically no spiciness. Much like the pho, the broth was not impactful at all. On the other hand, the noodles were on point and so was the shrimp and squid (which were not overcooked). We shared an order of the Fried Chicken Wings and they were extremely dry, yet really crispy. It seems like they didn't take much care in preparing them. They looked practically destroyed. On the side, the dipping sauce was kinda bland, but provided some moisture.
On another visit, we tried the Beef Stew with noodles. This was fairly decent with a good amount of beef hidden in the broth. It wasn't particularly tender though as it was more dry and chewy. A bit more flavourful than the 2 aforementioned broths, the beef stew had some meatiness and sweetness. Noodles were again on point. Lionel Hutz decent to go for something non-brothy in the Grilled Pork and Spring Roll with Vermicelli. This was an okay dish with somewhat clumpy vermicelli (not overdone though) topped with sufficiently tender pork. Unlike previous dishes, the flavours were there as the pork was sweet with a touch of caramelization. As you can already ascertain, the food at Pho Boi is passable but hardly memorable. Not sure it does any better than the restaurant it replaces.
- Open 24 hours
- Flavours are weak
- Portions are average