Yesterday, with raw ginger, tea, and pho as my ammo, I waged war. The assault was on a cold, or rather, one that hasn’t quite settled in; it’s a shadow lurking just behind me, causing my body to ache and making me want to sleep 18 hours a day. It arrived just a week after I told my mom “Gee, I haven’t been sick in awhile.” I should have knocked on wood a little harder.
With my head feeling cloudy, I wanted two things: soup, and a good coffee shop, so I headed to Steveston.
I first stopped in at the pharmacy on Chatham, mainly to ask their very friendly pharmacist if any miracle pills had been invented in the last 48 hours to cure me. He asked me my symptoms, and said “Just get a lot of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and gurgle with salt water several times a day.” No miracle pills, dangnabit. I thanked him, and as I left he hollered “And don’t kiss any strangers!” Whoops. Already kissed four.
I next paid a visit to Steveston Village Vietnamese Restaurant, avoiding people on the sidewalk, lest I accidentally smooch them.
The restaurant is located at the south end of No. 1 Road, and has only been open for three months – still just a baby! Despite being new, it seems very popular already, and much of the restaurant was full when I arrived.
This is a business that’s adapted itself well to its location; elements of the Steveston community are incorporated into the décor, some of the ingredients are local, and the service is more Western-style. In other words, this isn’t a hole-in-the-wall pho joint; it’s a more refined, and therefore slightly more expensive, Vietnamese restaurant.
My server was a friendly, very well-dressed young man who always seemed to check-in at just the right time. I ordered a small bowl of chicken noodle soup (with local, free range chicken), for $8. It came quickly, and was the perfect size – often, I find even a small bowl of pho to be too large.
The broth was lovely; it seemed quite mild at first, but the more spoonfuls I had, the more I liked it. The noodles were my favourite part, and while I don’t usually love steamed Vietnamese beef or chicken balls, I adored the ones in this dish.
The jasmine tea they brought was just what my throat needed, even if there was a woman sitting in my teacup and man swimming in my teapot.
I happily ate my soup, all the while listening to the fishermen next to me chatting about their boats. That’ll happen when you’re eating in the country’s largest commercial fishing port.
Pho is good for you if it’s raining out and you’re feeling less than stellar. You know what’s not good for you? What the pharmacist would never have recommended? Cake, that’s what. Well guess what world, Steveston Village Vietnamese Restaurant has toasted coconut cake ($4) on their menu, and Lindsay Anderson NEVER says no to a good-looking piece of cake. It’s against my moral code.
This irrational decision was the right one, because this coconut cake was crazy good – one of the best pieces I’ve ever had. The crumb was thick but not heavy, impossibly moist, and almost pudding-like; there was definitely some coconut milk or cream baked into it.
The icing was light but still substantial, creamy, and not too sweet, with toasted shredded coconut sprinkled over it. I finished the whole thing in one sitting – yet another terrible idea, but an inevitability. Holy coconuts, batman, this was one good piece of cake.
It turns out, my server was the one who baked it! He said while it’s not a traditional thing to have on a Vietnamese menu, it’s become wildly popular, and he’s even had a few requests from people to buy entire cakes. I, for one, will most certainly be going back for more.
Cake in belly, I walked down to Rocanini and settled myself under this painting, a warm contrast to the grey scene outside. Then I tweeted at Tom Allen, Tom Allen tweeted back, and my life was made complete.
If I had to spend somewhere waging war on this cold, Steveston was a pretty swell place to do it. Wish me luck in this battle, and remember – if you’re a stranger, do not kiss me.
Vegetarian options available
Cash and cards accepted
GET THE COCONUT CAKE.