Pho from Hai Phong - photo: Chowtimes.com
Vietnamese food reflects the perfect infusion of ingredients with flavour. If you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a culinary delight. About 10 years ago I backpacked extensively through Vietnam and I vividly remember being floored by the freshness of the ingredients and the hospitality of the people. Most dishes are accessorized by a multitude of fresh herbs and lemongrass is often used to flavor grilled meats. I'd like to highlight three local Vietnamese restaurants, each boasting a particular specialty that is, in my humble opinion, stupendous. This is not fine dining but rather a roll-up-your-sleeves and plunge in affair.
To lead off, is Hai Phong where I was lucky enough to try their pho. Vietnamese pho is a healthy rice noodle soup that is both comforting and delicious. The secret lies in the broth and every family seems to have their own secret recipe of simmering bones and herbs. At Hai Phong, you have numerous choices of delicious pho. For the uninitiated, ask for pho with thin slices of rare beef. Accompanying each pho is a big plate of sprouts, fresh herbs and lime which are meant to be added to the pho before eating.
Hai Phong Vietnamese Restaurant, 1246 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, (604) 872-3828; Hours: Open Daily 10am-10pm; Lunch or Dinner: $10-15/person
Over at Song Huong, you’ll find the Bo 7 Mon (seven courses of beef). This is one of the best kept Vietnamese cuisines secret in the city. Perfect for a party of 3-4, the first course is a rice paper wrap filled with thinly sliced beef cooked at your table in a tangy broth with fresh herbs and rice vermicelli. The flavours burst in your mouth. Next up is an assortment of grilled beef rolls (courses 2, 3, and 4). Lemongrass is a predominant flavor here. Course 5 is a steamed meatball but with a secret touch mixed in. Course 6 is fresh salad with grilled beef on top. The final course is a beef congee which is very flavourful compared to its Chinese counterpart. Get a side order of delicious fried spring rolls and you have a perfect meal.
Song Huong Vietnamese Restaurant, 1613 Nanaimo Street, Vancouver - (604) 568-1196; Hours; Open Daily 10am-10pm; Lunch or Dinner: $10-15/person
Finally, over at Thien Kim, there are Vietnamese soups other that pho. Two delicious soups to try here are the Bun Mam and the Bun Rieu. The Bun Mam is a Vietnamese anchovy fish soup with chewy rice noodles, fish slices, shrimp, pork belly, eggplant slices and lemongrass. It has a totally addictive flavor. The Bun Rieu is a crab based soup with shrimp, fried tofu and fresh tomato. Both of these soups go well with the banh cuong, a tasty appetizer of what looks like a fried shrimp muffin dipped in a tangy sauce.
Thien Kim Vietnamese Restaurant, 2523 Nanaimo Street, Vancouver, BC, (604) 253-8239; Hours: Open daily 10am-9pm; Lunch or Dinner: $10-15/person
- post by Michelle Pereira. Stay tuned for a new lifestyle feature starting this weekend on CityCaucus.com!