Restaurant review: Pho Tam

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Sherman Chan,
Special to The Post
 
I think that Pho Tam has the best Pho in Metro Vancouver. It has been nearly five years since I last reviewed Pho Tam, and although I’ve been there many times since, I thought it would be a good idea to see if their Pho is still the best.
We decided to try the combos, which included a choice of large noodle soup and either a Spring Roll or Salad Roll. The spring roll was constructed with a rice wrapper, which was fried until very crispy. The filling was meaty and not over-processed. It had a good mix of fish sauce, carrots, onions and wood ear mushrooms. As for the salad roll, it consisted of rice noodles, pork, sprouts, lettuce and meaty shrimp. The rice wrapper was soft while still chewy. However, I found the pork a touch too dry and the dipping sauce tasted too strongly of hoison sauce.
On to the main event. My friend and I shared three items, starting with the Pho Dac Biet. There was a good amount of meat, including tender brisket, moist rare steak, meatballs, tendon, and tripe. The broth was amazing as usual with a nice balance of sweetness to complement the natural meat flavours. This time around, I found the broth was less strong and it was harder to pick out the individual flavours. Next, we had the Bun Bo Hue, which lacked pork knuckle and blood. That being said, the broth was still good with a nice amount of spice and mild hints of lemongrass. Unfortunately, the noodles were too soft and broke apart easily. Again, the meat was plentiful and on point.
Finally, we tried the Lemongrass Chicken and Short Ribs on Rice. It was a generous portion of chewy rice topped with fatty and tender short rib. The ribs had a nice char and were well-seasoned, while the chicken also sported a char but the meat was quite firm and lacked moisture. It was nicely marinated though with noticeable lemongrass flavours.  
What's the verdict? Is Pho Tam still the best? It is still a solid place for Pho, but I believe that with all of the other places I have visited in the last five years, the competition has closed the gap considerably. Perhaps it’s time to find the next best Pho place in town?
 
Pho Tam
#10 – 10302 City Parkway, Surrey
604-589-4223
 
The Good:
• Large portions
• Good food
 
The Bad:
• The competition has caught up
• Parking lot insufficient, but you can park at Safeway and get half of your parking validated
 
Sherman Chan is the #1 ranked food blogger on the Vancouver portal of Urbanspoon.com. Read more of his reviews at www.shermansfoodadventures.com.
 

 


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