Sunday, March 25, 2007

Missing Pho-to

I just realized I had my camera with me while at a little Pho restaurant and didn't think of taking a picture. I was coming home from a great bike ride on my new super-cool folding bike, and randomly picked a small restaurant on Hastings street. Success! Pho 888 (2474 East Hastings, just East of Nanaimo St., 604-258-9092) was nice, clean, and had good food. I just had their combo that included a small house special pho, a salad roll (it had prawns and pork in it), and a can of pop. Not normally something I'd whip out the camera for anyway, but the food was good, and I was quite pleased. Maybe I'm easily impressed because the Vietnamese place closest to my place still insists of giving lemon wedges instead of lime wedges with their pho. The broth was decent, and the peanut sauce for the salad was good too. It really hit the spot. I also like the fact that the big pot of jasmine tea came out right away after I was seated (with no charge).

I also randomly picked a place on the way to the bike path (Brunette-Fraser Greenway, which I recommend also), and found a great little Chinese run diner/family restaurant place to have an all-day breakfast special. I've unfortunately forgotten the name, and wasn't really intending to blog it either. I do love those type of places, with the comforting old 70's style glassware and decor, and the Chinese owner lady who gives impeccable service (gotta love those bottomless coffee warm-ups) and a cook in the back who knows how not to get crusty bits on sunny side up eggs, and knows how to make a seriously fluffy pancake. There's also the great bonus of being able to read the day's paper, which is always kicking around places like this. I think this one was around the 4000 block of Hastings, just one door in from the Northeast corner, because I remember noticing the going out of business sale signs in the Helen's children's clothing store with the great girl-in-a-swing neon sign.

Though these two restaurants probably don't sound all that blogworthy, there are two things that made them noteable for me. First, I like spinning the roulette wheel of unknown small restaurants. I was feeling lucky today. And just that element of chance makes the successful spontaneous pick all that more satisfying (as opposed to the intent research that usually goes into my restaurant picks for myself, and anyone who might ask for a personal recommendation). The Chinese family restaurant felt especially like a gamble because I walked into an entirely empty room on a Saturday afternoon, and almost walked right out (you could see my thought process all over my face, I'm sure, after I opened the door: uh oh, empty room, bad sign...oops, she saw me, too late!). Thus, when the attractive breakfast plate arrived, it was like a wonderful little jackpot...of fat and sugar. Secondly, I enjoyed these places because they really had a lovely neighbourhood feel to them. East Hastings feels more like a real community than dining downtown. In both restaurants, regulars walked in and were treated by the staff like old friends. I like that down-to-earth "homeyness." I guess I have a nostalgic fondness for East Hastings because it reminds me of my roots, having been raised nearby. Anyhow, I'd go back quite happily to both of those places if I was in the neighbourhood, and I would probably not ever go to Anton's - drove past the queue , which must have had about 20 starving student types standing outside to get their cheap pasta. I wanted to pull over and say, "People, this is Vancouver...you don't have to line up for cheap food." Incidentally, the pho special I had was $8.25. Or $5.50 for just the pho. The breakfast special was about that too. The real question is, how expensive was it all calorically? Here's hoping my bike ride was at least enough to break even.

3 comments:

yumsinger said...

Hi Nancy,
You sound like me: I teach and love to eat and travel.

Check out my blog: www.yumsinger.blogspot.com

Maybe we can go for a meal together and link our sites.

Cheers,
Janet

SaabKen said...

Sounds like a fun day of discoveries :-)

Do you remember if the cafe was east or west of Willingdon Ave ? I grew up in N. Bby, and recall two greasy diners on Hastings, not sure if either one of them still exists. First one is east of Willingdon, on north side of Hastings, about a block or so east of the KFC and Dolphin Theatre. Standard "Canadian and Chinese Foods" diner stuff. Friendly service, Customers mostly locals.

The second diner is farther down Hastings, west of Gilmore, maybe around Ingleton St. More a locals (seniors) hangout with the $4 breakfast deals and some Chinese foods too.

Sadly this type of establishment has been disappearing rather fast, at least within Vancouver City proper. My all-time favorite was The Normandy on S.Granville but they closed recently. My replacement for it is The Nice Cafe on E.8th at Main. Not sure if Gray's Grill on Burrard and Ritzy's on Granville in Marpole are still around. Maybe you can check them out for us.

too_much_thinking said...

Noooooooo! Normandy! I guess it's better I find out here and now instead of randomly showing up there one day when I am just craving that homely place.