Situated directly on the corner of Main Street and East 30th Avenue in the Riley Park neighbourhood of Vancouver, Pho Tan Vietnamese Restaurant is a very popular local Vietnamese joint. Regulars line up on weekends to enjoy the restaurant’s piping hot bowls of pho, dry vermicelli dishes and beer crab. And it can get so busy that customers are asked to share tables with strangers.
Why is it so beloved? There are actually quite a few reasons: From what we could tell, there is NO MSG in the broth, which those with sensitivity to the additive will appreciate. Also, this place provides FAST service! Prices are very reasonable, portion sizes are quite generous, and FREE parking is provided for Pho Tan customers in the parking lot located behind the restaurant. Cleanliness appears to be an important factor at Pho Tan and the owner seems to run a tight ship with his staff. When we were seated at our table, the owner noticed that our server had not wiped down our table and insisted that she do so. We were grateful since the table was sticky from the previous customers!
After we were served some hot tea and had taken a look at the menu, we started with a couple extra crispy, Deep-Fried Spring Rolls that served very hot, straight from the kitchen within minutes of ordering. Also placed on our table within minutes of ordering was the obligatory side of pho garnish: lime wedges, bean sprouts and Thai basil sprigs. Some Vietnamese restaurants we’ve been to serve dodgy looking garnish–like did they just reuse it from another table?! But this plate was so FRESH! Crisp and bright white, these raw bean sprouts added a lovely crunchy texture to the soup, while the Thai basil was very fragrant with vibrantly green coloured leaves and lovely purple stems. A squeeze of lime is a mandatory requirement for pho, I feel, because the citrus really heightens the dish’s flavours.
Even thought the restaurant was completely full to capacity during our visit, our steaming noddle soup came rushing out of the kitchen at lightning speed. Pictured above is this Rare Beef With Tripe Pho and below is the popular Rare Beef Pho (both under six dollars each), garnished with sliced onions, green onions and cilantro leaves. Considering these were the small bowls of soup, they each contained a generous portion of chewy rice noodles in a light broth. Fresh, fast, cheap and tasty, we’ll definitely return to Pho Tan Vietnamese Restaurant in the near future. FYI: CASH ONLY.