Sherman's Food Adventures: Vietnamese Tea House

Vietnamese Tea House

I'll be pretty frank here...  When I first drove by Vietnamese Tea House on Hastings, it didn't even register in my subconscious  "I have to eat here" voice.  Similar to bubble tea joints and coffee shops, there seems to be a new or re branded Vietnamese restaurant opening up every now and then.  However, looking over the online reviews, the place seemed to be getting plenty of love.  Then ironically, I was contacted by the owner to try the place out.  So I did, along with Amy, Diana, Elaine, Emily and Karen.

A barrage of appies hit the table including the Bò Tái Chanh (Beef Sashimi on the menu).  This consisted of thinly-sliced rare beef topped with a combination of onions, garlic, fried shallots, cilantro, sugar and lime juice.  The buttery and tender beef was still meaty while the aromatics on top were complimentary.  It was pretty sweet where the amount of lime juice could've been just a tad more aggressive.  Next up the Chả Giò (Pork Spring Rolls) were pretty solid with a crunchy exterior that wasn't oily.  Inside, the somewhat firmly packed filling was tender and well-seasoned.  I would've liked to see rice paper used here, but it wasn't a deal-breaker.

We were also served one each of the Garlic Butter Chicken Wings and Honey Garlic Chicken Wings.  Despite being doused with a bit too much sauce, the wings were still crispy with rendered skin.  Underneath, the meat was fairly succulent.  I personally enjoyed the butter garlic more as it was impactful with aromatics and a touch of spice.  The side of lemon pepper dip was very peppery and added even more flavour.  Piled high, the Green Papaya Salad with beef jerky was texturally on point.  The crunch of the papaya and carrots was appealing while the beef jerky added a robustness.  There was plenty of dressing underneath which was mostly sweet with some saltiness from the fish sauce.  In the background, there was a slow rumble of spice.

The best appie of all was the Stir-Fried Corn and Shrimp.  Apparently, this is served exclusively as a street food in Vietnam (specifically in Saigon).  Well, we are in Vancouver, so served in a restaurant it is!  Beyond the sweet pop of the niblets, there was a buttery garlickiness that was addictive.  Add in the meaty and briny shrimp and there was a certain amount of umaminess that kept us wanting more.  Such a simple item, yet at the same time, appetizing.

Onto the mains, I sampled the Bun Bo Hue first and it featured slippery, yet chewy lai fun noodles.  There was a decent amount of meat that was sliced thin and tender.  I would've liked to see the traditional pork knuckle and pork's blood, but that didn't make or break the dish.  As for the broth, it was mildly spicy with a noted sweetness.  There could've been a touch more lemongrass though.  Of course we couldn't do with the baseline or standard in the Pho Dac Biet.  The broth was clean and clear having an almost healthy quality to it.  It was mild with a balanced amount of sweetness and saltiness.  There was a background meatiness as well.  Even after all of our picture-taking, the noodles were still on point being chewy and not clumpy.  A fantastic value at $8.50 including tax!

Now those 2 bowls of noodles were fine, but the real deal was the Crab Pho with crab protein.  This was intoxicatingly aromatic and briny.  The soup was flavourful without being salty.  Rather, it really tasted like crab and hence seafoody.  The noodles were on point again while the shrimp was meaty.  Loved the clumps of crab protein which was flavourful and fluffy.  Served as a large portion, the Beef and Chicken Vermicelli Bowl was solid.  It featured chewy noodles topped with a considerable amount of meat.  I found the chicken to be nicely charred with rendered skin.  It wasn't juicy, but was tender.  The beef was also caramelized and decently tender.

One of the weaker dishes was the Chicken Curry.  Although the thin curry was to be expected (Vietnamese Style), the flavour was also lacking in impact.  There was not much in the way of discernible flavours or spice.  The chicken was moist though and the potatoes were soft yet not melted.  The Banh Mi with Grilled Beef was decent with crunchy and chewy bread.  Inside, the beef was similar to vermicelli bowl being caramelized and fully seasoned.  It was sweet with a slight saltiness.  As you can see, the food at VTH is pretty solid.  We also tried some of their slushes and they were smooth and tasty.  Prices are currently very reasonable where they include tax.  The place might be rather unassuming, but it is definitely a hidden gem.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Overall solid eats
- Reasonable, bordering on cheap prices
- Super nice people

The Bad:
- A few items could use a bit more refinement, but really, for those prices, complaints are far and few in between

0 comments: