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This very popular little Vietnamese restaurant is conveniently located only a few blocks from the Bee & Thistle, yet we’ve never quite got around to reviewing it until recently because we always seemed to get the urge to go Tuesdays, which turns out to be the only day they are not open. We are quite familiar with the restaurant, though, as we have from time to time popped in for a bowl of Pho, a dish that became a favorite comfort food of ours during our trip to Vietnam a few years ago (one of our top travel destinations in the world, by the way!).
Not that we needed any encouragement to visit this little restaurant, but the reviews that we keep seeing definitely continued to pique our interest, so we were happy to finally find an afternoon recently when we could stop in for lunch again. We were quickly greeted by a hostess and shown into a cozy booth. A fragrant pot of tea appeared almost immediately, along with their rather extensive menus.
As always, one of our goals is to sample a variety of dishes, so Michael ordered 3 crispy spring rolls ($5.50), along with a bowl of steaming hot Chicken Pho ($7.95), including the “fixings”.
I am trying my best to include more veggies in my diet, so I opted for a Vegetable Stir Fry with Chicken ($8.95), plus a Salad Roll for an appetizer ($2.95). The food was well cooked and in ample portions (I had to bring half of the salad roll home as I couldn’t eat it all).
As mentioned previously, the Red Pagoda receives accolades on all of the review websites. UrbanSpoon gives it 4 1/2 stars, with 89% of their reviewers liking it; 4 stars from Yelpers with 41 reviews; 3 stars on TripAdvisor. (I was amused reading some of the comments regarding such adventurous ingredients as beef tendon and tripe which apparently appear in some of the dishes.) As for us, we once stumbled into an authentic noodle shop in Ho Chi Minh City frequented only by locals, and had the most amazing Pho ever. This may have developed an unrealistic expectation for Pho that we’ve never quite been able to meet in a restaurant in Vancouver (but we’re quite willing to keep looking!). However, the Pho at the Red Pagoda is good and perhaps as good as any we’ve had here – we like it. My salad roll was fine, though it was perhaps a bit heavy on rice for me as I’m not a big rice fan, but the dipping sauce was tasty. I was a bit disappointed in the stir fry, but perhaps that’s my fault for not ordering something more adventurous. I’m not sure we would give this restaurant 4 stars, but an opinion is difficult based on a small sample of dishes when the menu is extensive and offers many other dishes which may be amazing. So many people love the food here, so we would recommend that anyone liking Vietnamese food give the Red Pagoda a try and let us know which dishes we should try next time.