The other night I was in the Burnaby area with a friend and we realized that we were starving as we headed back towards Vancouver. We thought we’d check out some place new on Commercial Drive, since it was nearby, and were craving Vietnamese food (which happens quite a lot). I did a bit of research on my blackberry and found Red Pagoda (right next to Marcello’s near the corner of Kitchener Street).
To start off, we ordered the spring rolls – each order comes with three rolls and there is also a vegetarian option. I really liked these – they were a bit smaller in size than others that I’ve had, and they were super crispy and filled with quite a lot of meat. And of course, I made my usual hoisin sauce and hot chili oil combination to dip it into – something I would highly recommend to anyone that loves spice.
We couldn’t decide between pho and some lemongrass chicken for our mains, so we decided to get both. I started with the Pagoda Special Beef Noodle Soup, which came with medium rare beef, tendon, beef flank, brisket and tripe – although I decided to skip the tripe since it’s one of the food items I just can’t eat. After adding the bean sprouts, lime and some basil, I took my first sip of the broth, and did find that it wasn’t as flavourful as other places I’ve been. It was still quite good, I just needed to add a bit of hoisin and some chili oil to it; but I love having a fragrant bowl that is pretty much ready to eat as is, once you throw in some lime – then you know that you have found yourself some serious pho.
Once the Charbroiled Lemongrass Chicken with a Fried Egg added on arrived, we were already starting to get pretty full – our eyes were larger than our stomachs yet again, it seemed. However, it was definitely tasty. The chicken was tender and moist, with a great coating of lemongrass and onion flavour, and it was slightly charred fresh off the grill. There was also the usual side salad that you find on most similar Vietnamese meals, with cucumber, carrots and lettuce (helps make me feel like I’m getting my veggies for the day ;)) .
Although it’s not as good as my beloved Cambie Vietnamese Restaurant on Main Street (and also has a little less variety), this is a good alternative for that area of town. The staff were extremely friendly and the service was very quick. Plus, the two large pictures hanging on opposite walls made it feel very zen and comfortable – one was a temple and the other was a smiling buddha, looking down over our table.
Red Pagoda (no website)
1408 Commercial Drive