Sherman's Food Adventures: Basil Garden Pho

Basil Garden Pho

Hey, another Pho joint!  Yes, that is as exciting as watching someone parallel park in Richmond...  We randomly decided to visit the newly opened Basil Garden Pho on Renfrew and Broadway after Sunday morning hockey.  Unlike many of the existing Vietnamese restaurants in town, Basil Garden is following the trend of purpose-built and decorated spaces rather than a dive that still resembles the old Italian or Greek restaurant that resided at that location.  Grace ended up joining us for no apparent reason, but that meant more food too!

So, whenever I see Garlic Butter Wings on a menu, I just have to order it since I inherently want to compare them with Phnom Penh (say what you will, but I still like them).  Well, these ones were crispy, but the skin was not rendered enough for my liking.  The meat was succulent and juicy though.  Although there was some aromatics, the wings were too mild-tasting with very little evidence of garlic.  I also got the Banh Mi Dac Biet to share with Milhouse and it was decent.  We found the bread to be crusty and only a touch dense.  Inside, there was enough meat and pickled veggies for texture and flavour.  Also, there was enough fish sauce for the necessary saltiness.

JuJu decided to add the Salad Roll since sharing a few wings wouldn't suffice.  It looked okay from the outside and in fact was decent with the usual vermicelli noodles, shrimp and lettuce encased in a nicely texture rice paper wrap.  However, we would've liked to see more pork and some basil to elevated the flavours and textures.  For my main, I went for the Lemongrass Chicken, Egg Meatloaf and Shredded Pork with Rice.  This was a fairly large portion with tender on-the-bone chicken that was aromatic and sweet.  I didn't like the egg meatloaf as it was hard and dense.

Grace and Kaiser Soze both had the Pho Dac Biet with the strange choice of egg noodles.  Hence, this ate much differently in terms of texture (being more hearty and filling).  As for the broth, it was clean and light with a somewhat overbearing amount of star anise finish.  The meats were fairly plentiful and sliced super thin (being tender).  Milhouse had a hard time deciding what to order, so he went for something with variety in the Spring Rolls, Grilled Pork Patty and Pork Skewers with Vermicelli.  This was fairly good with well-prepared ingredients including crispy spring rolls with legit rice paper, moist and sweet pork patty and tender and well-charred skewer.

Now you didn't think JuJu would be satisfied with just a salad roll did you?  Of course not, he also had the Dry Noodles with the usual toppings (partly obscured by the greens).  Unlike the one at Phnom Penh, this one wasn't as flavourful, but the noodles were on point, as well as the rest of the ingredients.  Overall, we thought the food at Basil Garden Pho was decent, but could definitely benefit from further refinement.  Understandable though as the place is brand-spanking new.

The Good:
- Clean and inviting space
- Well-portioned
- Nice people

The Bad:
- Further refinement needed    


Steve said...

Tried the Bún Bò Huế there recently, I thought it was decent but I felt the portion size was kind of small, considering the $10 price. I also had the Bánh Mì Đặc Biệt and I found the bread to be very dense and chewy. Maybe just a bad day for the bread? I'll have to give them a second chance on that sometime soon. Agree it's one of the nicer looking Vietnamese restaurants in East Van.

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