Eating pho, the Vietnamese beef noodle soup that we popularized through the Dot Com Pho phenomenon, isn’t exactly the most expensive thing in the world in the first place, but I guess every buck you save is well worth the effort. I was directed toward a thread in the Red Flag Deals forums, telling everyone about the anti-crisis special at Pho Viet. As you may be able to figure out by the sign on top of the car, every bowl of pho noodles is on sale for $4.99. You could say that the you could buy some pho pho pho ninety-nine (pho for four 99).
Located a very short drive from Les Faux Bourgeois, Pho Viet (2142 Kingsway, Vancouver) is selling $4.99 pho for the month of July. Everything else on the menu is 15% off to boot. Oh, and the tax is included too. If you’re looking for one of the better deals in town, you just may have found it.
When we arrived, we were the only table there. That’s not a good sign. It’s possible that they’re just dealing with the recession, but when your restaurant is completely empty during lunch hour, it usually means that your food isn’t very good. Thankfully, a few more tables showed up shortly after we did.
The dining room was remarkably clean for a pho restaurant and it seems like they made quite an effort in terms of the decor. But what about the food? How did this Vancouver restaurant stack up?
The first thing that hit me was that they didn’t bring us iced water or hot tea; instead, we were treated to chilled tea. That’s fantastic for the summer. I was disappointed, however, that the Vietnamese iced coffee came pre-mixed in the glass; there’s something inherently enjoyable about watching the percolator do the drip thing.
Regarding the bowl of noodles itself, the portions were good, the beef tasted fresh, and the noodles were about the right consistency. However, the soup base was too salty for my tastes (hello MSG) and you could see the oil floating on the top of the soup; when I took a picture with the flash on (with my Nokia E71 smartphone), all I got back was a big white reflection. I had to turn off the flash to get this pic.
Service was good. Decor was good. The portions were very reasonable and the “anti-crisis” special price was great. However, the soup base makes or breaks a nice bowl of pho noodles and that’s where Pho Viet comes up short in my books.
I don’t want the soup to be bland, but I don’t want it to be this salty either. Further still, the regular prices for most of the menu items are too high, compared to many cheaper alternatives along the pho-infested Kingsway corridor. This place is worth a try at $4.99 (including tax), but I wouldn’t pay $8+ for it.