Pho Thai Hoa Restaurant

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Pho Thai Hoa Restaurant, a Vietnamese restaurant located on Kingsway between Knight Street and Victoria Drive, was where I had lunch one Sunday afternoon.

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“Service” is not a concept that Pho Thai Hoa comprehends. When I entered, I announced to one of the two ladies sitting at the table by the front counter that I was eating in. The two ladies were preparing some vegetables at their table, while a younger man was assisting another customer at the front counter.

One of the ladies told me to sit anywhere. I sat at a table. And I was ignored – for a few minutes – until the young man was done with his customer. He grabbed a menu from a small pile at a central table and gave it to me. (You can see the central table in the photo above, the one with a menu or two on there.)

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The good thing was the TV was already on an NFL game on CBS, something that you can’t even take for granted at a Western establishment. (Are you taking notes, Pizza Hut?) The sound was on, so for a while I could hear the announcers broadcast the game. (That changed later when more diners came in and talked loudly to block the broadcast out.)

Anyway, as for the food, the pictures on the menu sometimes can be confusing. The Grilled Marinated Beef skewer, for example, was C$3.00 for one stick, not C$3.00 for three sticks. That makes sense, but the picture on the menu made it confusing, showing three sticks and the price of three dollars.

Anyway, I ordered just the one stick.

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I also had the Com bo luc lac, which was their shaking beef with garlic sauce on rice (C$18.00).

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And here’s another example of what I meant by the confusing menu. I didn’t see anywhere on there that soup came with the rice. So, I was quite surprised when the young man brought soup with the meal. I didn’t know if this was part of the rice or if it was a complimentary item. No idea.

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Overall, the best thing about this place? For me, the sports on their TV was the best thing. I’m not being sarcastic. There was no service to speak of. The beef on rice dish was pricey. Several bites of the beef on the rice were chewy. There was no wifi. Need I go on?

And, also, they didn’t take credit cards; it was cash and debit only. And oh, finally, when I picked up one of their business cards at the front when I was paying, I saw they had two locations but one of them was crossed out (the way some prices were crossed out on the menu).

Would I recommend Pho Thai Hoa? No. There are other restaurants and food places to check out on Kingsway. So, for me, this is likely a one-and-done establishment.

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Where: Pho Thai Hoa Restaurant, 1625 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, Canada  V5N 2S2
Website: skipthedishes.com

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Sun Bo Kong Vegetarian Restaurant

(This was originally posted on my other food blog, “Let’s Eat Out Once A Week.”)

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Small Wonton Noodle in Soup – C$5.50

My friend P., who’s from Singapore, only likes Asian food and doesn’t really want to try any other types of cuisine. Plus, she’s also vegetarian, which really limits the food choices when we meet up. Nonetheless, as a friend, I fully support her preferences/choices and go along with what she decides. (I even told P. that to her face, that it was difficult to come to some sort of consensus but I would support what she decided.)

On this particular Thursday in July, we met up downtown because she had some errands to run there in the morning. The tricky part was that she gave her phone to her kids (who are taking summer school), so having to meet up when she was not reachable could have been problematic. Anyway, I showed up early and there was no problems in that regard.

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Chili & Pepper Tofu – C$5.99

The problem occurred when P. felt that there was nothing interesting to check out downtown, in terms of food, because again, she doesn’t care for non-Asian food. We finally decided to go to Kingsway in East Vancouver to try a Chinese vegetarian restaurant. This one was called Sun Bo Kong Vegetarian Restaurant (at 1363 Kingsway, or Kingsway and Knight).

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Stir Fried Turnip Cake with XO Sauce – C$5.99

We ended up sharing a few dishes – and here was when P.’s Asian ways and mine were different, which apparently shocked her. I insisted I didn’t need rice (a bowl of rice cost C$1.50, I think) but she was wondering out loud how on earth I could enjoy the dishes without rice. Anyway, I didn’t want rice so I didn’t get that.

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Sauteed Noodle with Shredded Vegetables (top) and Panfried Sticky Rice (bottom) – *I think they were C$6.99 each but I can’t remember for sure

The service was great – P. had many questions about the dishes and the waiter and waitresses that served us were all very pleasant in answering her (in Cantonese). They even brought out different types of chili sauces because P. wanted to try them all. The food, meanwhile, was awesome. I mean, I’d rather eat meat dishes but I liked everything we ordered.

The other thing that came up during this meal was P. making fun of a Caucasian woman who was eating alone at another table. I was tactful about this without making it into an argument, but I didn’t appreciate the comment because as I pointed out to P., I eat out alone from time to time. So, I didn’t see anything wrong with what the poor woman was doing. It just goes to show you again that as human beings, we are all judged by what we do and people will snicker at us if what we’re doing isn’t “cool” or “normal” in the eyes of those people. Anyway, this was a non-issue as I didn’t argue with P. about it when I came to the woman’s defense.

Afterward, we discussed the next possible meetup but I was non-committal. The biggest thing here is P.’s preference for Asian food while I’d rather do something different. We’ll see what happens the next time we get together.