Big D loves to eat, possibly even as much as I do. Yes, it's hard to believe but he can pack it in better than Mijune at times. But there are times when he wants to eat somewhat lighter so he doesn't become Heavy D (wait, that name is already taken!). So we ended up making 2 visits to the relatively new Pho Holiday out on Austin in Coquitlam. As much as Coquitlam cannot compete with Richmond when it comes to parking chaos, this stretch on Austin suffers from "lack of parking syndrome". We ended up parking a few blocks away.
As for the food, one sip of my Pho Dac Biet and I was hit by the flavourful broth with a definite meaty taste as well as an overwhelming sweetness. It was also on the saltier side, which would indicate a good amount of MSG was used. Overlooking that, the noodles were toothsome and plentiful. I found the meats to be good except the brisket which was a bit on the chewier side. Big D had the Beef Stew Noodles and again, the same level of MSG was used. The broth itself was beefy in flavour where the addition of MSG only made the broth salty and sweet. They could really ease up on it a touch. Once again, the noodles were good as well as the tender nuggets of brisket.
We also got the Grilled Pork Banh Mi and it was pretty good. The baguette was crusty and relatively light inside. It was filled with fatty pork that was the beneficiary of enough char and seasoning. There was also a good amount of fish sauce that amped the flavours even more so. On our second visit, we started with the Spring Rolls with wheat wrappers. Overlooking the fact they didn't use rice paper, the rolls were actually quite good. They were firmly crunchy with very little grease. Inside, the filling was packed fairly tightly while still being moist. There was a nice sweetness from the onions and a mild saltiness from the fish sauce.
For my main, I had the Bun Bo Hue which arrived looking quite plain. Oh how looks can be deceiving as the broth was much better than it appeared. There was a pointed spiciness that was accented by the pungent shrimp paste. Furthermore, I could really taste the shallots as well as the lemongrass in the broth. The noodles were toothsome whereas the meats were thin and tender. I would've liked to see a pork knuckle and pig's blood though. But that didn't make or break the dish. Big D ended up with the Lemongrass Chicken and fried eggs with rice. Succulent and tender, the chicken was generously seasoned. There was a nice balance of savoury, sweet and aromatics. We would've liked to see a bit more char though as it was missing some smokiness and caramelization on the outside. Overall, we quite liked the food on our 2 visits to Pho Holiday. We wouldn't mind coming back again.
- Above-average eats
- Nice people
- Slightly aggressive with the salt/MSG
- Parking is at a premium