The dreary weather outside has me longing for warmer climates and sun. In Vancouver, the next best thing is trying to find a decent bowl of ramen or pho to warm up to.
I’ve heard good things about Pho Tam from other bloggers. Some of them claim it’s the best pho they’ve ever had. I have no excuse for not trying Pho Tam, the restaurant is located across Surrey Central Station and it’s within walking distance from my house.
The restaurant is located in a small run-down strip mall behind the Safeway parking lot. A sign on the door encourages patrons to park there and they will happily reimburse $1 towards your parking. Nice folks.
First thing I noticed – place is busy! Hardly a seat available for lunch and a steady stream of new customers coming in. Most seem to be regulars, as the servers were greeting them by name. Second thing I notice: friendly staff.
Now for the pho:
I ordered the combo B for $9.95 – a medium bowl of pho plus a Vietnamese salad roll. You can’t beat the price.
I love medium rare beef on my pho, but due to health reasons I had to go for the well-done beef. I expected it to be a bit tough, but no, the meat was tender and easily pulled apart by my eager chop sticks.
I’ve never been to Vietnam, so I’ve never had a bowl of authentic Vietnamese pho. I’ve been told by my Vietnamese acquaintances that it’s hard to find a bowl of pho that even comes close to what they had back home. However, I’ve been given a few guidelines to what to look for:
1. broth should be fragrant – the smell alone should make you hungry
2. Not one spice should be dominant over the other – there should only be hints of flavours
3. Broth should be as clear as possible
4. The meat should have hints of pink in the middle
5. The pho should be brought out to the table pipping hot, as to cook the rest of the meat at the table
As I mentioned before I had to order my pho well done. (Pho Chin Nam), but I can see on the menu you can order your meat pretty much any way you’d like. I stuck with the beef slices, beef briquet and rice noodles. Other varieties available are beef tendon, beef tripe, beef balls and chicken and pork.
As you can see from the picture, my pho came pipping hot from the kitchen. The broth had a nice clear colour and the smell was delicious. I’m glad I ordered the medium, the portions are huge! I couldn’t finish it, no matter how good it was.
The soup came with bean sprouts, jalapeño pepper slices, aromatic basil and lime on the side. This was the best remedy for the Vancouver rain blues I’ve ever had.
The restaurant also servers other Vietnamese rice and vermicelli dishes. And dessert. I treated myself to some che ba mau – a tri coloured jelly dessert.
So is it the best pho in Vancouver? All I can tell you is that it met my expectations and I will definitely be back!