It’s bizarre when the first thing you think to yourself upon entering a Vietnamese restaurant is, “Well, this place is clean and cozy.” But clean and cozy are indeed what Mui Ngo Gai is.
Dinnertime on a cold snowy night in East Vancouver can only mean a few things, and this night it’s Pho Pho Pho. East Van is known for a number of things but steaming vats of delicious fragrant beef noodle soup at cheap prices has got to top that list.
Take it from me, someone who’s had to learn this lesson the hard way (several times), don’t even bother trying to find a satisfying bowl of pho outside of East Van. I mean, why play with fire like that?
Located on the corner of Kingsway and Victoria Drive, Mui Ngo Gai is easily one of my favourite pho joints. Authenticity and creativity is the name of the game here. Also, so so clean. I mean check out those hardwood floors. Quality.
With only BoyToy and I dining and both of us wanting a big fat bowl of magic, the two of us ended up ordering the same thing – Large 43: Bánh mì,phở hoặc cơm bò kho. (That’s cool speak for fragrant beef stew with carrots with a choice of rice or pho noodle.)
A few minutes pass and out come two steaming bowls of pho. Flavourful is the first word that comes to mind. Flavourful but not overpowering or greasy with a decent amount of beef brisket scattered throughout the noodles. The carrots were a refreshing addition to the meat and noodles, though they could have been stewed a bit longer.
The serving portion wasn’t as large as some places I’ve been to but with enough noodles to last me two meals at $7.50 a pop, I’m not complaining.
The pho is always a solid choice at Mui Ngo Gai but what’s really standout about this place is the other hundred items on the menu that I’ve always wanted to but have never tried. This isn’t just your run of the mill Vietnamese restaurant that serves basic pho, rice, and sandwiches if you’re lucky.
This is the real deal. They’ve got specialty soups, crepes, hot pots, and authentic sounding meat entrees. With dishes like goat stir fried in coconut milk and frog legs with lemongrass and hot chill, can anyone ever go wrong? (Well maybe, but they had me at coconut milk).
Every time I come here, I swear that next time I’ll have made some friends who will share in eating some of these delicious dishes with me. (Hasn’t happened yet, but one day. One day.)
And with all this in mind, the final question: Would I return?
Yes, hopefully next time with those friends I was talking about. Even without them though, just their pho alone will still keep me coming back!