A piping hot bowl of Phở sounds quintessential of rainy Vancouver evenings, or rather late nights. This simple beef noodle soup – traditionally, but you can also get different kinds of stock – from Vietnam has come to be its most-prized culinary assets.
In fact, this humble dish even had Vietnamese poet Tu Mo wax eloquent about it in his poem, ‘An Ode to Phở’. This flavoursome mix of beef bones, charred onion and ginger, spices that include star anise, cinnamon, cloves, black cardamom and coriander – all used to make the slow-cooked broth that defines Phở – is the epitome of egalitarianism. The Phở brings the rich and poor together. Period.
Did you know there are two styles of Phở? Phở bac, which is Phở from the northern regions of Vietnam, is made quite differently from how Phở is prepared in southern Vietnam (Phở Sài Gòn). The northern-style broth is traditional and simple with wider noodles, while the one from the south is somewhat sweeter, with lots of herbs, and even hoisin and chilli sauce. An important takeaway – not all Vietnamese-noodle-in-hot-broth-in-a-bowl dishes are Phở!
And since Metro Vancouver has so many fantastic Phở and more places, we thought we’d list some of those that are easily accessible by transit. Why? Because, we love all things transit, and we sure love us some Phở – Phở-real!
Let us know in the comments below which one is your favourite Vietnamese restaurant!
Note: Restaurant timings, locations, and prices may be subject to change. Check each restaurant’s website for exact details.
Location: 10302 City Parkway, Surrey
Transit: Expo Line to King George
The Phở at this busy noodle joint speaks for itself. The modest tables are almost always packed, and once you have their Phở, you’ll know why. Legend has it that one can smell the delectable smells of their broth till Surrey Central SkyTrain station!
Location: 1996 Kingsway, Vancouver
Transit: Buses 19, 20, 25
Located at the corner of Victoria Drive and Kingsway, Phở Duy has a basic and inexpensive menu that does justice to Vietnamese cuisine. This family-owned restaurant serves its Phở with bean sprouts, basil, and lime, and you can walk out with a full stomach and fuller soul. Try their coconut tea and Vietnamese-style iced coffee too!
Bun Cha Ca Hoang Yen
Location: 5083 Victoria Drive, Vancouver
Transit: Buses 20, 25, 33, 43
Also known as Hoang Yen (bun cha ca means fish cake noodle soup), this Victoria Drive staple is cash-only and is known for its specialty Phở. Expect to wait if you go at peak dinner times. If this is your first time at a Vietnamese place, and you don’t know what to order, just go with #24 Bun Cha Dac Biet – their famous fish cake noodles. You are welcome.
Location: 2717 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
Transit: Buses 14, 16
Located on the corner of Hastings and Slocan, and close to Playland, this place is famous for its spring rolls – the good ol’ batter fried ones. Cheap prices? Check. Good eats? Check. Also cash only, but most dishes are less than $10.
Ahn and Chi
Location: 3388, Main Street, Vancouver
Transit: Buses 3, 25
Run by siblings Vincent and Amelie Nguyen, Ahn and Chi means elder brother and elder sister of the same family. This award-winning restaurant traces its roots to an iconic noodle shop that was started by their parents in 1983, and formally known as Phở Hoang Vietnamese Restaurant. They are closed during the day on the last Tuesday of each month, but re-open at 5pm.
Take a dip, into your journal, into that dream. Unblock, de clutter, come out from behind the clouds to let your light shine. ❤️??☀️? #soulfulsaturday
— Anh and Chi (@anhandchi) October 20, 2018
Mr Red Café
Location: 2131 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
Transit: Buses 27, 28, 130
With two convenient locations in Vancouver (East Hastings, and 2680 West Broadway), this award-winning restaurant is the torchbearer for Northern Vietnamese cuisine in the lower mainland. The Hastings location moved to its current one after spending three years at another East Hastings address. Their chefs say one of their most popular dishes is bún chả hà nội, grilled pork belly and meatballs in sweet and sour fish sauce with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs.
Location: 520 Sixth Street, New Westminster
Transit: Buses 106
This is a great place to try vegetarian Vietnamese food. Great food on a budget defines this restaurant perfectly. This tiny little placed jostles with some fast food places, but their food, especially their Bahn Mi sandwich, is second to none. Closed on Mondays, and holidays.
Also worth a mention in New Westminster: V-Café at 789 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster.
Location: 4791 Mcclelland Road, Richmond
Transit: Buses 405, 430
This restaurant chain has five locations, but only one outside of Vancouver. Their signature dish is the Bun Bo Hue, and their portions are pretty big. A cash or debit-only restaurant, this place is known for the comfort food it provides. Expect it to be busy but the turnovers are pretty quick.
My Chau Restaurant
Location: 1715 Kingsway, Vancouver
Transit: Buses 19, 20, 25
This nondescript little restaurant might have odd operating hours (9am to 6pm, closed on Sundays), but their food does speak for itself. Tucked away in a neighborhood often referred to as Little Saigon that is full of mom-and-pop restaurants on Kingsway, this hole-in-the-hall is full of surprises. Their specialty is Phở Ga (Chicken Phở). My Chau only accepts cash though.
Cafe Mai Mai
Location: 8636, Granville Street, Vancouver
Transit: Buses 10, 100
This Marpole area family-run café serves Bahn Mi sandwiches, rice dishes, coffee, and waffles. Try their shrimp salad rolls – two huge rolls with noodles, shrimp, and lettuce nicely wrapped in rice paper. If you want to go big, try the lemongrass chicken rice served with vegetables, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, and fish sauce.
Phở is indeed soup for the soul. This list captures only some of the amazing Vietnamese restaurants in Metro Vancouver. We KNOW there are many more! Tell us which is your favourite one!
Tap to Pay provides you with an option to pay for your transit fare — just tap your contactless Visa or Mastercard credit card and be on your way. Remember, Compass Card is still your best option for reduced fares.
Author: Tanushree Pillai