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Hai Phong: Viet in Vancouver deserving its own thread

grayelf Aug 2, 2012 09:02 AM

Hai Phong on Kingsway has been our go-to place for a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes for the past several months. I love the beef "sashimi" here with its garnish of mysterious leafy herbage and dark dipping sauce. I have rambled about my addiction to the chicken wings here on other threads, which I much prefer to Phnom Penh's sweeter, MSGey ones. I crave the porc au caramel which comes out a little different every time, sometimes quite spicy. The banh xeo or crepe is perfect comfort food. The tamarind crab and the hotpots are a draw too. Pho is not one of them. I was talking to a friend last night who commented that if a place does other things well she often isn't fond of the pho. I concur. Here it has too much cookie spicing -- notes of cinnamon and clove, that sort of thing. I don't miss it though as I slurp up my delicious avocado shake (the best one I've found so far). And they have a licence so if your beverage of choice is alcoholic you are in luck. Service is always with a smile, even when they are busy. And they never seem to be full-on slammed which means you can walk in and grab a table -- I've even seen a group of 14 do that once!

A few pix to illustrate: chicken wings, porc au caramel, egg pie with lemongrass chicken and shredded pork (SO fave), bun with pork skewers and pork skin meat (sausage), avocado shake, another view of the chicken wings, banh xeo, water convulvulus, beef sashimi

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  1. v
    vandan RE: grayelf Aug 3, 2012 01:13 PM

    how cheap is it ?

    5 Replies
    1. re: vandan
      quddous RE: vandan Aug 3, 2012 08:03 PM

      The price is consistent with other Vietnamese restaurants around town. It isn't any more expensive but the quality is definitely higher than other Vietnamese restaurants.

      Their lemongrass chicken (with rice) is my favourite in Vancouver (I always get it with an egg added). The tom yum hot pot is delicious - I also agree about the chicken wings and the crepes. I usually have a hard time not over ordering when I am there.

      I feel like driving there right now actually. I'm getting hungry after looking at the pictures you posted, grayelf.

      1. re: quddous
        grayelf RE: quddous Aug 3, 2012 11:16 PM

        We went with four adults and two kidlets recently and I believe it was $125 for way too much food plus drinks and several beers.

        1. re: grayelf
          quddous RE: grayelf Aug 3, 2012 11:33 PM

          It is usually about $25-$30 (and sometimes up to $40) including tip for 2 for us. We usually get either a soup or rice dish each and sometimes an appetizer.

      2. re: vandan
        Susan_Vancouver RE: vandan Aug 4, 2012 07:48 AM

        You can see their prices on their website http://haiphongrestaurant.com/

        1. re: Susan_Vancouver
          grayelf RE: Susan_Vancouver Aug 4, 2012 08:19 AM

          Thanks for the link, S_Van. It never occurred to me to check if they had a website as it is rather a mum and pop place.

      3. y
        yuyu RE: grayelf Aug 6, 2012 03:28 PM

        if you get a chance their bbq duck lotus leaf salad and tamarind crab are to die for!

        2 Replies
        1. re: yuyu
          grayelf RE: yuyu Aug 6, 2012 08:31 PM

          Thanks, yuyu! We tried the lotus root salad tonight and loved the texture but found it a bit bland. Also the shrimp were all a bit javexy tonight which affected the bhan khot (shrimp cakes) which otherwise were the best version I've had yet. Haven't tried any duck here yet, duly noted. Mum and dad loved the tamarind crab when we took them last year.

          1. re: grayelf
            quddous RE: grayelf Aug 6, 2012 08:39 PM

            We were there earlier today too. :)

            Great as usual.

        2. t
          twinkienic RE: grayelf Aug 6, 2012 08:48 PM

          I love this place. My favourites are: banh xeo, canh chua (sour soup - so full of veg & fish!), banh khot, chicken wings, and lotus salad (thanks for the reminder of that, yuyu!).

          I actually do like the pho there - I find they are generous with the meat, and it's one of the few places where the rare beef stays tender even after cooking in the soup.

          4 Replies
          1. re: twinkienic
            fmed RE: twinkienic Aug 6, 2012 09:37 PM

            I like the pho here too! One of the best in town IMO.

            1. re: fmed
              quddous RE: fmed Aug 6, 2012 10:28 PM

              They also have some dishes with banana blossoms - small flowers with a very light banana flavour.

            2. re: twinkienic
              grayelf RE: twinkienic Aug 7, 2012 08:16 AM

              Haven't tried the canh chua yet, thanks for the tip, twinkie! The bo luc lac is also very good here and is served on a bed of watercress, the only place I've seen that touch (I gather it is traditional). We tried the oyster omelette last night too and found it rather bland. There are so many solid dishes here that I don't mind occasional slight misses.

              Re the pho, my SO is a fan of it here as well so of course it's just personal preference. I have noticed a tendency to overcook noodles here from time to time which has affected my response to the pho and even to the bun dishes.

              I was chatting with the friendly young fellow who is always there and he said they are looking for a second location further west (woot!) that would serve a much more limited menu so stay tuned.

              1. re: grayelf
                flowbee RE: grayelf Aug 7, 2012 02:07 PM

                Man, if they set up a small place with a limited menu that looked like Meat & Bread, that would kick ass.

            3. peter.v RE: grayelf Aug 20, 2012 04:28 PM

              Just came back from a solo lunch at Hai Phong. Chicken wings were stellar and the Bun Rieu I had was pretty darn tasty too. My first ever bun rieu though, so can't really say whether or not it was a good version of it. Balance was nice between the shrimp paste and the porkiness from the trotter and blood.

              2 Replies
              1. re: peter.v
                grayelf RE: peter.v Aug 20, 2012 04:36 PM

                Good to have a recent report on their bun rieu! Agree that the wings have been better even than usual lately. So good last Tuesday we wished we had ordered the large, even though we had a ton of food for two people. Drat, now I want some for dinner :-).

                1. re: grayelf
                  peter.v RE: grayelf Aug 20, 2012 04:48 PM

                  Yeah, I was tempted to order a second round... but decided I shouldn't always be a glutton.

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