Vietnam House, 788 Yates Street
Last year I wrote a piece on Vietnamese cuisine in the city. Rosa followed this up with reviews of Saigon Night and Green Leaf Bistro. I'd like to add one more to the list.
Small, family run Vietnam House has been a favourite of mine for quite some time, yet I've been unable to pinpoint the key element that keeps me going back. Sometimes you find that point via comparison. After eating the pho at another Vietnamese restaurant two weeks ago, and being disappointed with the very bland broth, I realized what made me so satisfied at Vietnam House: the broth they use for their pho. Eureka!
Food is about reference points. Our tastes develop via lots of eating and comparison. We sometimes realize the value in a dish by having eaten other, lesser versions.
Vietnam House pays close attention to broth detail, and the result is that tangy, savoury/sweet lemongrass blend that fills all senses; very aromatic, and very easy on the taste buds.
Pho is not a gourmet dish, but that doesn't mean it's easy to make, or that it has to be bland and pedestrian. The greatest pho broths I've ever had were from small shops and street vendors in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. In Victoria, Vietnam House's version is as good as any I've tasted, easily the best in the city.
In addition to the best pho soup in the city, Vietnam House serves it up with a friendly smile and at a decent price. A great place to grab a bite when you're in the theatre district at Yates and Blanshard.