[Seattle, WA] The Dong Thap Noodle Challenge

dong thap

Dong Thap Noodles
303 12th Ave S
Seattle, WA

Phone: (206) 325-1122

If you are ever in the heart of Seattle’s International District, a visit to Dong Thap Noodles is a must. Sadly, with James rarely traveling with me these days, I doubt I can take on this diner’s Pho Super Bowl Challenge alone. I needed his help with this dish, and whatever’s going on in his head, I can only guess. Either he’s lost the passion (with this blog) or he’s afraid of really getting heavier if we continued our foodie adventures. His ongoing joke with me is that whenever we’re dining around in other cities, he always feels far more bloated by the end of the trip. There’s also the possibility he can not stuff his stomach like he used to.

I needed a hearty bowl to re-energize. After spending two-thirds of the day at the Washington Convention Center, I was starving. I met up with local friends afterwards and we went to Dong Thap. Upon entering the establishment, I gazed at the half empty gigantic-sized bowls on tables which still needed to be cleaned up. If only my pals had the appetite (you have to reserve in advance for the challenge), then maybe we could do it with a group of three. I can see five people tackling a single order and succeeding, but I had to wonder if rules exist for this challenge?

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In Search for a Late Night Meal at Pho Vuong

Pho Vuong
622 Fisgard St
Victoria, BC
Phone: (250) 590-7687noodles3

E: Who would have thought Victoria, BC’s Chinatown is fully multi-cultural? By the Gate of Harmony, I can find French, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese dining options, and I’d be hard pressed to say which is better. In a warm summer night around the town, and both James and my hunger were unabated, I let my buddy choose where to go dine.

Enter Pho Vuong, a nice cozy little operation located at the basement floor of a building and it was right next to a Pokéstop! Yes, I’m still playing the mobile game Pokémon GO, but I’m not as hardcore. If there’s opportunities to eat and spin, why not?

J: I was entranced by the traditional Chinese music being played out of speakers attached to the Friendship Gate. It was my first time hearing it and it somehow added to the atmosphere of its location. But for fine dining, there wasn’t much in the way of choice late night. What was comforting to see was families who owned the restaurants or families and their employees sitting down for a good meal. This night had some magic in the air.

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Just How Long is a Pho-Ever?

1669 Pear St.,
Gordon Head
Saanich, BC
(250) 388-0028

For as long as I can remember living in the Gordon Head area, Pho-Ever has been around for … well, forever. I have not thought about visiting this place because it’s in a tucked away corner of Shelbourne Plaza and it’s the type of place some would not give a second glance to. As unobtrusive as this establishment is, they can serve up a mean Pho, and it had me savouring every bit of broth from the P-4 I ordered. That is, I had a serving of traditional noodle with bits of rare steak, tendon and tripe mixed in. The traditional plate of bean sprouts, cilantro, lime and hot pepper is offered and beyond that, was there anything that leapt at me?

Not really as there was nothing special in the presentation of the meal. It’s not like I was walking into a trendy restaurant over an every man’s place. The broth was exceptionally well made. It was clear and after applying some hot chilli oil to give it tang, the zest I was craving made the meal. The ratio of the various ingredients were adequate, and I did not realize how hungry I was. I was practically wolfing down the meal as I did not have a proper lunch earlier.

A word of warning: while the serving size of the bowl is perfect, to add any more product on top can get quickly expensive. The charge for adding extra portions of meat, prawn, noodle or vegetables averages $4, making that $11.95 meal turn into $24 if James was here. I stuck with the basics to evaluate the staple of quick Vietnamese street food.

This spot is great for Pokémon GO players. Not only is there a stop but also there were pocket monsters which popped in, eying my meal. I caught mostly common types, but I guess Psyducks love stopping by more often.

Sadly, during a non-busy time, the service was lazy. I had no water refill and the waitress only checked in once on my meal. While I lucked out and got my meal within minutes of ordering, I wonder what this place is like when it is actively busy during lunchtime? Between this operation and another, that’s a block and a half away, I think I’d rather go to the other. I like how they make their Bánh mì sandwiches — they are toasted up and are kept wrapped until I peel the foil out for nibbling when enjoying the view while up on Mount Tolmie.

When I glanced at this Pear St. operation’s menu, I did not find any sandwiches to order. Even though my heart was set for some pho, my eyes kept on glancing at Pokémon GO for some elusive critters that I hoped might appear while here. They used to pop up a few great nest migrations before, but I guess even they are deciding to avoid this place instead of congregating.

3 Blokes out of 5

Saigon Char-Broil’s Slow Sizzle

Some Chinese Place IMG_20151208_162203543

Saigon Char-Broil Vietnamese Restaurant
3710 Tillicum Rd,
Tillicum Centre
Saanich, BC
(778) 432-2000

E: To have a dinner and a movie altogether on the same day is not easy in the area of Tillicum. I somehow managed to convince James to see a horror film (a genre he doesn’t care for) and we both wanted a healthy option beyond popcorn and soda. Saigon Char-broil was very close and we didn’t have to cross the highway to get to Cineplex’s Silvercity Tillicum Location.

J: Ed, like me doesn’t like going to the movies on his own. It’s much more fun with a friend but you’d be surprised at how many people want to sit in front of a computer rather than get out of the house, even if you offer them a free pass. Stopping for a meal at a restaurant (including Saigon) makes more sense then spending roughly the same money or more on junk food at the theatre. I’ll have a snack if I’m at Vic Theatre, Sidney’s Star Cinema, or even UVic’s Cinecenta but if it’s a big corporation owned movie house like Silvercity, I put my money where I think it’ll do the most good, with the mom and pop food operations.

E: Mind you, that doesn’t stop James from getting sweetened yogurt from within the theatre operation. One large bowl of pho’ later, he was on dessert faster than I could swipe my SCENE card to see a film for free. That’s including trying to hear him say yes to my offer to treat him to the movies for the night. Mind you, when it comes to the drinks from this restaurant, I can go through a glass of pineapple juice in no time!

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Kim’s Vietnamese is a Guilty Pleasure

Kim's VietnameseKim’s Vietnamese Restaurant
748 Johnson St.
Victoria, BC
(250) 385-0455

E: If ever you are in the mood for the food of Vietnam, then you should try your taste buds on Kim’s on Johnson. I know I’m starting off this article by sounding like a commercial but how else am I going to get you to try the atmosphere this place offers. It’s low lighting and warm comfortable decor is perfect for anyone having a romantic dinner or in some people’s cases a bromantic one.

J: I knew the owner’s sons at good ol’ George Jay Elementary. Okay, it was no Blanshard but they had one hell of a library. To get to my point, I wasn’t going to let any sort of association get in my way of a restaurant review.

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Where’s the Sunday Breakfest in Vancouver?

Joyeaux Cafe & Restaurant
551 Howe St.
Vancouver, BC
(604) 681-9168
(604) 341-8882

I’m surprised that not many trendy diners in Vancouver are open Sunday for the early riser. I rarely find the restaurants that are joined at the hip with a hotel the perfect place to eat. But when I needed a quick meal before checking out, I was hoping that the Sciué Italian Bakery Caffé would be open. When I looked at their menu online, I was drooling. When I saw their hours of operation, I was sad.

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