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Aug 17, 2009 11:35 PM

Pho Viet for beau bo luc lac (Vancouver)

I couldn't find a specific thread for this resto so voila. Thanks fmed for pointing me in the direction of the other menu items -- I had heard Pho Viet mentioned for its $4.99 recession pho special and seen the sign on the car roof. We were on the hunt for plated fare last night and decided it was time to follow up on fmed's recon: bo luc lac or shaking beef is on the menu. Ever since I first tried this dish at in San Francisco, I've been hoping to find a worthy contender here. I think I have! While this version does not come with the lemon pepper dipping sauce, it is very tender and meaty with the right flavour to the meat. A variation here: white mushrooms barely cooked which works well and doesn't feel like filler (green pepper, I'm talking to you), also onions barely cooked which was surprisingly okay by me as I usually prefer 'em more broken down. The dipping sauce they have is soya with slices of tiny red death peppers (probably bird) which I was prepared not to like but found to be most edifying in practice, possibly even better than the lime version. Fmed had mentioned they had some "au caramel" dishes but despite scouring the menu we could not find them. Attempting to be good 'Hounds, we picked a random dish that sounded good. The server (possibly also the chef?) mentioned it was quite salty and that she could tone it down but SO reassured her that I love salt which is true. The dish was thit ko to (Vietnamese style braised pork) and came in a black ceramic pot. There was a version with fish too but I tend to shy away from fish in Vietnamese restos as it is often not to my taste. Disappointment over lack of caramel was soon gone -- this dish was wonderful, full of umami-ish pong and flavour. We proceeded to devour everything we ordered with the exception of one salad roll which we saved for my lunch today. We also enjoyed the cold tea they served, and the limeonade was one of the best I've had, very limey and not too sweet. With the 20% off that seems to be a permanent discount we paid around $30 for a delicious repast in a clean, attractive restaurant with excellent service. My only whinge: no A/C!! We'll be back for sure. Paging ck1234...

Pho Viet
2141 Kingsway just east of Victoria

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  1. Guess what? DID find an "au caramel" dish...thit ko to (or thieu) = porc au caramel! They key ingredient is Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese caramel sauce - sweet and bitter syrup made from slightly burnt sugar syrup and water). Porc au caramel is the (French) colonial name for the dish.

    5 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      Now that's amusing -- I was sure it had to be there but the server did not recognize the French name (why should she?) and of course we had no idea what it was in Vietnamese and would probably have said it wrong if we had :-). By the time we finished eating, we were wondering if we had found it because there was a hint of caramelly taste at the back of our mouths. We had no idea what to expect as we'd never tried it before, but this won't be the last time!

      1. re: fmed

        I can't wait to go! I love love love thit ko. I had it whenever I could in Vietnam. The versions I had also had whole eggs in them.

        I'd also love to find this dish that I used to have for breakfast all the time in Vietnam. There was this little stand where you could order xoi (sticky rice) and have all these savory ingredients (Vietnamese sausage, egg, etc) added and wrapped up. Not sure what the official name is though... will try to find out. The closest I can find so far is the rice wraps at T&T. They have different filler ingredients... but still so yummy!

        1. re: twinkienic

          Hey twinkie -- glad to spur on your thit ko love :-). Do go ASAP: we were the only ones in the resto on a Sunday night albeit earlyish... I hope they are getting more custom at primer times.

          1. re: twinkienic


            Check out one of the Vietnamese delis (eg Thu Hien at Clark)on Kingsway for xoi etc.

            1. re: twinkienic

              "xoi ga" is rather nice. i think all the savoury "xoi"s have a generic name "salty" [savoury as in with sausages, meats etc.] and specific names when they have certain meats added. i bought one of the savoury Xoi in the evening from a mobile rig, on the pavement somewhere in Vietnam, wrapped in banana leaf to go. this was after i had already had dinner so i ate it in my room at the guesthouse. the seller had a rig full of all sorts of Xoi and i just pointed at a couple of things that looked good. miam miam.... :D

              [all] clay pot braised "Kho" dishes are served with a side of salted sour mustard greens, or pickled daikon-carrot shreds. or both. well, the idea is to cut the saltiness in the almost dry braise. and also, peeled whole eggs of course! [not separately, added probably half way through?] otherwise it's not true blue clay pot braise.

              thanks for the Thu Hien Xoi tip. cheers Fmed. [i'll probably be in YVR again next summer. oink oink...]

          2. Sad to see the dark room and For Sale sign today. I'll miss the bo luc lac and thit ko to. This place wasn't the only place to serve those two dishes, right?

            3 Replies
            1. re: el_lobo_solo

              It was a sad day when I saw the sign too, lobo -- I love bo luc lac and it is not the easiest dish to find here. I have my sights set on trying it at Green Lemongrass really soon. Not sure about the thit ko to...

              1. re: grayelf

                i think lotsa viet place serve bo luc lac. you just have to ask for it. its not always on the menu. not saying all versions are the same or good.
                have tried the BLL at Gr Lemongrass in richmond. it was pretty decent.

                1. re: betterthanbourdain

                  Ah, another example of off menu goodness :-). Will take that under advisement the next time I am in one of my favourite Viet places. Also thanks for the feedback on the BLL at GLG... sorry about all these initials, ck, if you are reading!