By Tana Kosiyabong
A couple of days ago, I was scouting around Vancouver Chinatown for an interesting restaurant I have yet to discover. As I walked past Ba Le Vietnamese Sandwich shop, I happened to look up and saw a sign of Pho Le Inc., a Vietnamese restaurant, on top. Since I haven’t done any Cheap Appetite mission on Pho noodle soup before, I was very excited to check it out.
So I looked around for the entrance of Pho Le and finally found it inside of a small concrete courtyard mall just north of the sandwich shop. After walking up a flight of stairs, I was right in front of Pho Le. There were about fifteen patrons in the restaurant as I walked in. However, it didn’t feel crowded because the restaurant is very spacious. The interior décor is a bit dated which I took it as a good sign that they need to rely on the taste of their food even more.
After seating, I noticed that most patrons at a big table next to mine were having pho. And on top of that, the restaurant was also named after the dish. I figured it would be wise to stick with it. So I ordered a small bowl of No. 20: Pho Tai, Nam, Gan (Rice noodle soup with rare beef, well-done flank and tendon–$6). Soon after the dish had arrived with a kettle of complimentary hot tea.
The first sip was pretty darn good. The soup was mildly sweet and perfectly salted. However, since I’m not a Vietnamese, I do not know if there is a proper way of eating pho. But I normally add fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil leaves and fresh lime juice into the bowl; then mix them all together. (I usually don’t add the Hoisin or Chili sauce to my Pho. However, if the soup sucks–which it is not in this case–I will squeeze some hoisin sauce into the bowl to lift up the flavor. Voila, suddenly I have become a bona fide “Soup Savior.”)
The fresh lime juice marvelously made good soup even better. It’s hard to believe that a small wedge of lime contains such power. On top of the yummy soup, Pho Le also gave a generous portion of beef. In fact, I even ran out of the rice noodles before the beef. The three beef varieties added different textures to the dish. The rare beef, which was about medium by the time I popped one in my mouth, still had a subtle hint of natural sweetness. The well-done flank was still firm, yet not chewy. Some tendons were deliciously soft and gelatin-like. Unfortunately a couple pieces of tendons needed more cooking time.
The gem of Pho Le noodle soup, however, is not the rice noodles, the soup or even the beef. It was a piece of well-cooked daikon radish added to the noodle soup. Once bitten into it, the sweet daikon juice oozed out in my mouth and turned it into a flavorful paradise for my taste buds.
I have never seen any pho that comes with a soft, naturally sweet and succulent daikon before. And since this is my first time at Pho-Le, I’m not even sure if they normally served a piece of daikon in every bowl of noodle soup. I just hope they do. It truly is a hidden treasure in a bowl of Pho.
Pho Le Inc. No. 20 (Pho Tai, Nam, Gan): ©©© 3/4
Pho Le Inc. is located at 633 Main Street, Suite 220, Vancouver, BC, Canada (T) 604.608.2891
NOTE: If you don’t like tendon, try No. 18–Pho Tai, Nam (rice noodle soup with rare beef and well-done flank)
Remaining Budget: $171.27
Budget Spent: -$6.00
Budget Available: $165.27
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