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Restaurant review: Pho Saigon

By Sherman Chan,
Special to The Post
 
Despite the summer heat, my friend was craving a bowl of warm, comforting pho, so we trekked to Pho Saigon in Ladner to fill her hunger.
My first visit to Pho Saigon was a relatively mediocre experience, so I wanted to try something different. I started with the Bun Bo Hue, which turned out to be a mistake. They used regular rice vermicelli rather than the thicker lai fun, and instead of slippery, chewy noodles, I got thin, drier-textured noodles that changed the dynamic of the dish. The soup was very flavourful, but not in a balanced manner. It was spicy, but I couldn't make out any lemongrass or shrimp paste flavours. The meat was okay and I was surprised that there was no pork blood or knuckle. I also added a side of Spring Rolls to my order and they were miraculously wrapped in rice paper, when I expected a wheat wrapper. These rolls were still good, with a nice crispiness on the shell, while the filling was somewhat loose yet moist and flavourful from the sweet onions and fish sauce.
My friend started with the Salad Roll. Although it was not large in size, the execution was there. The rice wrapper was soaked just enough to create a nice soft exterior while maintaining a moist chewiness. Inside, the ingredients were texturally on point and the dip was balanced. Onto her main, she had the Pho, which featured a scorching hot broth. It was fairly clean tasting, but not very impactful. It wasn't bland, but there was not a lot of meatiness. Instead, the soup was mostly sweet and we couldn't taste some of the individual components. On the plus side, the noodles were al dente and meat was tender. 
Our other friend who joined us decided to order the Lemongrass Pork Chop on Rice and she was not very happy with it. The pork chop had no char and lacked any caramelization. It was almost as if the meat was "steamed" rather than grilled, resulting in meat that was wet on the outside and chewy and dry on the inside. To top it off, there was a lack of lemongrass as well.  They should have marinated the meat longer and used a hotter grill or flattop. 
As you can see, this meal did not change my mind about Pho Saigon. Even a sever Pho craving couldn’t get me to try this place again. Someone would have to drag me kicking and screaming to return.
 
Sherman Chan is the #1 ranked food blogger on the Vancouver portal of Urbanspoon.com. Read more of his reviews at www.shermansfoodadventures.com.
 
Pho Saigon
5024 48th Avenue, Ladner   |  604-946-6414
 
THE GOOD:
• ONLY VIETNAMESE JOINT IN TOWN
• FAIRLY FRIENDLY SERVICE
 
THE BAD:
• FOOD IS BELOW-AVERAGE
• SOME ARTISTIC LIBERTIES TAKEN WITH THE FOOD
 

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