The other morning, I began the day feeling fatigued, sniffly and slightly lightheaded. Oh, and did I mention cranky? (I loathe being sick.) Unfortunately, the cold that’s been going around lately had found its way to me. I didn’t have much in the way of breakfast since the most unfortunate part of being sick for me is that I tend to become disinterested in food (the horror!).
The Pho Tuan ($9.25) at Pho 37. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
A few hours later, I was sitting in Pho 37 (3120-11666 Steveston Highway) with a generous bowl of their special Pho Tuan ($9.25, above) in front of me. I tasted a spoonful of their soup and, suddenly, I felt a little less grumpy. Miraculously, some of my appetite also returned (the pho was that good). The special Northern-style one I ordered was complex in flavour, with pronounced notes of garlic and ginger – there were pieces of each floating in the soup, as well as an overall smoky flavour. The dish included rice noodles, as well as grilled beef slices, beef balls, brisket and tendon. I really liked the addition of a raw egg, which I broke and swirled into my soup. Also found on the menu are Bun Bo Hue ($8.50), a spicy lemongrass broth with beef brisket and pork ham, as well as the more classic standby, Pho Dac Biet ($7.95), noodle soup with medium rare beef slices, brisket, meatballs, tendon and good old tripe. The place is hands-down worth a visit.
Fortunately, for pho aficionados, there are a multitude of other establishments in Richmond that serve excellent pho. Here are four more recommendations that will slake any noodle soup craving that you may have.
The ‘every cut of meat’ option, Pho Tai Nam Gau Gan Sach from Pho Ho. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
Pho Ho (2116-3779 Sexsmith Rd.)
Located in the Continental Plaza, this establishment boasts bright and modern décor, efficient and friendly service, and an extensive menu that includes Pho Do Bien ($8.95 small, $9.95 large), which comes with prawns, crabmeat and squid. There’s also a hot and sour version of this dish. Also appealing is the Pho Bo Kho ($8.95 small, $9.95 large), a combo that gets you both beef stew and noodle soup. During a recent visit, I ordered my usual ‘every cut of meat imaginable’ option, the Pho Tai Nam Gau Gan Sach ($8.70 small, $9.95 large), with eye round steak, brisket, fatty flank, soft tendon and tripe. The soup itself had good clarity and depth of flavour. The different meats were very thinly sliced, and offered a great variety of textures alongside the rice noodles.
For serious noodle soup, head to Pho Lan. (PHOTO: LINDSAY ANDERSON)
Pho Lan (6950 Number 3 Rd.)
An established crowd favourite, Pho Lan is a casual, unassuming spot that takes its noodle soup seriously. Start with their ultra crispy Deep Fried Spring Roll ($3, not pictured), filled with pork and shrimp, and resist (unsuccessfully) the urge to order another. After, move onto the liquid sustenance. Like any pho joint, there are a variety of options, including noodle soup with Vietnamese ham; chicken or beef meatballs in noodle soup; and noodle soup with rare steak, well-done flank and tripe. And unlike other places, there are three different sizes to choose from (small $7.75, medium $8.75, x-large $10). A Vietnamese hot and sour soup (small $11, medium $15) with jumbo prawns, diced tomatoes, bean sprouts and pineapple is another tempting selection.
One of Richmond’s chicest places to grab a bowl of tasty pho, Steveston Village Vietnamese Restaurant. (PHOTO: LINDSAY ANDERSON)
Steveston Village Vietnamese Restaurant (120-12480 Number 1 Rd.)
Winner of Best Pho in Richmond News’ 2015 Readers’ Poll, this restaurant has deservedly garnered a loyal following for their exemplary noodle soup. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill pho stop. Not only are interiors welcoming, but the kitchen is also committed to sourcing fresh and local ingredients. The house special ($9 small, $9.50 large) comes with rare beef slices, meatballs, beef flank, tendon and tripe. If you’re nursing a cold like me, go for the house special Chicken Noodle Soup ($8.50 small, $9.50 large). The dish uses free-range local chicken for its broth and meatballs, as well as features fresh, locally made rice noodles.
Soft-boiled quail eggs anyone? Try the Pho Ga Dac Biet at Pho Ten. (PHOTO: LINDSAY ANDERSON)
Pho Ten (130-11080 Number 5 Rd.)
Another restaurant that will give your mom’s chicken noodle soup a run for its money is the popular Pho Ten. The Pho Ga Dac Biet (small $8.56, large $9.71) is one of their house specials and consists of chicken soup with rice noodles, sliced chicken and soft-boiled quail eggs. Otherwise, you can order the special pho with rare beef slices, brisket, tendon, tripe and beef balls (small $8.40, large $9.45) or even a kid’s version ($7.04), with brisket and beef balls, which also comes with a soft drink. All of the bowls are sure to warm your belly and fill you up whenever you’re in need of pho comfort.