Pho Kim Penh Xe Lua

February 26th, 2008 · 3 Comments

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Target 2.2: Pho Kim Penh Xe Lua

KimPenh.extAddress: 500 West Broadway (map)
Phone: 604-877-1120
Menu: Page 1; Page 2; Page 3; Page 4
Price: $5.49 small; $6.49 large; $7.49 extra large
Condiments Photo
Fishtank Photo

Visit date: February 19th, 2008
Visit time: 7:45 PM


Jason’s ratings (#11 rare beef & tendon) –

Broth: 7.5/10
Beef: 7.5/10
Noodle: 7/10
Condiments: 7/10
Other factors (service, atmosphere, etc): 7/10

Jason’s total: 7.2/10

Des’ ratings (#14 rare beef, flank, tendon, fatty and crunchy flank) –

Broth: 8/10
Beef: 7/10
Noodle: 7.5/10
Condiments: 7.5/10
Other factors: 7/10

Des’ total: 7.4/10

Total Score (averaged across both raters, all variables) = 7.3/10
Quality per dollar (based on large pho) = 1.1248/$

Description from Jason:

Pho Kim Penh Xe Lua (PKPXL) succeeds as a pho joint for me because it’s not horrible. I realize that’s a strange thing to say, but it’s really the best way to sum this place up.

A few years ago I used to partake in a little late night slupring at PKPXL after a bit of drinking. Back then it was open 24 hours, making it one of the few restaurants outside of disgusting pizza sliceries and the nearly as disgusting Naam that is open at the hours I kept. Although most things tend to taste good during those hours, PKPXL did not. I remember it being overspiced and oddly industrial tasting. I thought it was made from a mix and vowed never to go again.

After a good deal of prodding from Eat Vancouver reader TJ, I decided to give it another chance and strangely enough, it’s actually decent pho. Maybe it’s because I didn’t expect much this time, or maybe their recipe/chef/management changed, but I can now recommend this place.

PKPXL is also boosted by a few intangibles. Although it’s no longer open 24 hours, it’s still open late most nights, until 6AM usually. It’s also closer to Kitsilano, UBC, downtown, and several major bus routes than most of the places we have rated in the past. There is no convenience factor in our ratings system, because that would be too subjective (even more than any food rating system inherently is). But for those of us who don’t live in East Vancouver and do ride the bus a lot, it’s something to keep in mind.

KimPenh.phoAs for the pho itself, it’s pretty middling, but certainly not bad. The noodles were fine if a bit mushy, while the amount of beef was just average. I liked the spicing of the broth for its aromaticity and moderate amount of oil, but like so many pho places, it was just not meaty enough. The condiments were also pretty average with nice crunchy bean sprouts and sliced jalepenos, but with spotty basil past its prime. And while the service was friendly and fast, I had some serious problems with the turbid water in the fish tank, and one fish that, and I’m not a veterinarian here, but I think it was dead.

In many respects Pho Kim Penh Xe Lua can be summed up by Paul Blake from the movie Necessary Roughness, in his article describing the Fighting Armadillos losing effort against a superior team. In describing the loss in relation to head coach Ed Gennero, he writes, “He won because they played.” The same can be said for PKPXL: just being where it is, open at the time it is – well, that’s enough.

As an aside, the menu looks an awful lot (read: exactly) like the menu for the pho chain Pho Hoa. If anyone can figure out what’s going on with that, I’d be very interested to know.

Pho Kim Penh Xe Lua on Urbanspoon

Tags: Pho

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hazel // Mar 6, 2008 at 12:15 am

    If you’re still looking for a place closer to Kits, try a place in Point Grey (I know, Point Grey? Really?). It’s on 10th Avenue, near Sasamat – outskirts of UBC. It’s 99b-line accessible!

    Now the name is an issue. There’s about 3 different names for this place because there’s been a few turnover. But you can’t miss it, with their giant neon THAI SPICY – BEEF NOODLE LOVER sign. I recommend their satay broth pho.

  • 2 TJ // Mar 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Jason! You reviewed it! Thanks!

    Couldn’t have described the place better. Medium quality but existent and accessible.

    I guess the last time I went, my only beef (no pun) was that the broth was pretty greasy, but it isn’t always.

    How is Pho Hoa?

  • 3 Jason // Mar 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks TJ.

    I think pho hoa is pretty good for a chain restaurant. there was one in virginia that was really very good and some of the other branches are good. there are some really half-assed run ones though. like anything, i guess

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