Pho Hoang Vietnamese Restaurant – Vancouver, BC

Pho Hoang Vietnamese Restaurant
3388 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 874 0832

Pho Hoang Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

I know many of you are anxiously awaiting the return of the Foodosopher, who no doubt will have many fine reports on his culinary adventures in south east Asia, which he alluded to here in a rare posting. As a prelude to a likely review of some authentic Vietnamese cuisine upon his return, I thought I’d would talk about a recent visit to one of Vancouver’s better known spots serving this country’s food.

Before I begin, I wish to pose a question. Have you ever gone to a restaurant, not one that you routinely frequent so that you’d qualify as a ‘regular’, and end up running into the same people whenever you have gone? This happens to me at Pho Hoang on Main Street. Now over the past I’d say nine months, I’ve been here three times. And on each occasion, granted I am coming in on the same day of the week (Saturday) and usually around the same time (late morning), I have caught the eye of this same trio of people (two men and one woman) who are seated at the same table. On this most recent occasion, I caught the gaze of one of the men, and the look in his eye suggested the same disbelief I was sensing.

Not knowing for sure if they are regulars or if this is just shear coincidence, I just settled into my seat and then tried to recall my two previous meals here. Lemongrass chicken and rice, spring rolls, and pho have all been decent, but not in the amazing category that would make you want to come back frequently (so again, why was that trio here?).  My rational mind continued to struggle in figuring out why I was having this Groundhog’s Day experience over and over again.

With an empty stomach and a chill in the air, I settled on having a large bowl of pho with rare beef. Now my memory of the soup here was positive: a light broth, with none of that metallic tasting sensation that I tend to associate with a heavy handed chef shaking his MSG bottle. On this occasion, the noodles were a miss, noticeably overcooked and limp. And this was just after my first mouthful of them, so it was a disappointment knowing that I had gotten the large size and there was much more to go through. I have to wonder, does the person in kitchen know that a larger mass of noodles in the hot water doesn’t mean they have to give it an extraordinary amount of time to cook?

The soup was a touch oilier than I recalled as well, as you can perhaps gleam from the image above.  Also, and I can’t remember if it happens regularly, but the bean sprouts that they provided on the side plate were not raw, as they had been blanched slightly making them almost as weak as my noodles.  And finally, the slices of raw beef had come clumped together.  I really wish they had taken the time to spread them out allowing them to gradually cook evenly in the soup.  Now that I had more time to recollect, my previous time eating pho here had been with the well done beef, so I hadn’t noticed this before.

Lastly, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of comments regarding the service here made by others in the online community.  Perhaps its due to my limited number of visits and the day/time that they’ve been, but I’ve never had any issues.  The server, who’s been the same cheerful woman on each visit, has been quick, polite and responsive when I’ve asked for the final bill.   I noticed that the place is fairly spacious and is split almost in two.  Maybe sitting on the side where the entrance in the kitchen is, would help in getting more attentive service, especially when its busy and its hard to flag down a waitress – just a suggestion.

If I happen to be in the ‘hood again and have a pho craving, I will probably just stop by again, to see if I run into my same group of “stalkers”.  Otherwise, the food alone would not be enough to get me back…

Pho Hoang Vietnamese on Urbanspoon


8 thoughts on “Pho Hoang Vietnamese Restaurant – Vancouver, BC

  1. I sometimes wonder when I walk into restaurants if I’m the only one who remembers that “other” person from a previous visit.

    I rarely get the joy of breakfast pho, as the local joint near me doesn’t open until 10 and I’m an early riser. On days like this though, I wish I would have slept in a little later than 7 and made a jaunt down there…..aaaah pho in the morning. delish.

  2. A group is us went there for lunch and we had a “surprise” in our food. Someone found a metal hook in the spring roll which he thought was something else until he pulled it out of his mouth to examine. We showed our server and she quickly whisked it away. Nothing as said, we were quite shocked regarding the hook until someone found a staple in the noodle. Once again the staple was whisked away and the server commented how this had never happened before. Well it happened twice that day. They didn’t charge us for the food that came with something extra, but I doubt we’ll ever to back.

  3. >raidar
    It would seem you are not alone then. 🙂 I think I spent too much time looking around at other diners when I wait for me meal too… Breakfast pho is a pure and simple delight, especially when its cold out and hot oatmeal just won’t cut it.

    Very sorry to hear about that double experience. Most unfortunate and can see why you are turned off. If that happened to me, I think I would be in shock!

  4. While passing Main st. today I saw quite a few people eating in there and without checking to see if the restaurant was any good, me and my wife decided to go in to try it out. We figured, these other people should know better. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the worst restaurant in Vancouver, period! I’ve never had worse service in my life. The people absolutely didn’t care about service at all. They were downright uncaring and made my happy day a very disappointing one. First, after waiting half an hour and seeing other people who came later than us, get their food already, we asked about our food. Big mistake as we were given a nasty look like as if we were wrong. Then after 40 minutes I accidently knocked over one of my chopstick on the floor. I asked this server for a new one and she never came back. After another five minutes we asked for our food again and just got ignored. We figured we had enough and just got up and left. I really don’t know why they are still open with all these bad reviews. Maybe their food really is that good, but for me, I would rather die from hunger than go back there begging for food that should arrive. We went down the street to another Vietnamese restaurant that was also full of people. Our food came in less than ten minutes and the service was very good.

    • I’ve not been back since originally writing this post. But from what I recall, the service component (or lack thereof) has been raised by others regarding this establishment. Sorry to hear of your disappointing visit.

  5. Have been doing the rounds of pho joints in town upon my return to Vancouver and have been sticking mostly to mom and pop type places. Eventually I guess I had to try this place. Ordered a small pho tai and spring rolls.

    Beef was all clumped up into a solid mass that had to be peeled off one piece at a time with some effort. Broth was good, basil was fresh, noodles okay. But the spring roll, was an embarassment.

    From initially looking at it, it looked normal, but as i lifted the pieces (3 rolls cut into 2 pieces i think it was), two of the pieces had holes on the underside where the wrapping had ripped and filling was exposed to the frying oil. So the undersides of these two pieces were fried to a black crisp.

    How can someone in the kitchen honestly think that if they flip it over that the customer’s not going to notice? I ate the four other pieces which was enough for me anyways. In situations like this, I usually don’t argue the situation as it’s a no-win. From my years in asia, I know that logic means squat when making a point to many asians. I’ll just simply never come back again.

  6. Oh and i forgot, the service was terrible. Came in, place was mostly full (why?) on the left side, but not so full on the right side. As i was ignored, I just grabbed a menu and sat on the right side. Woman comes over and says I have to move to the other side. I asked why, and she just repeated that I had to move.

    Got relocated to an unwiped table and as I sat down, she took a cloth and swept stuff off the table, some of which ended up in my lap. The fact that the next table over was the big circular table with a family of screaming kids was just icing on the cake.

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