Several weeks ago, I was walking down Hastings Street in Burnaby Heights when I noticed that A Taste of Asia was closed. The sign on the door indicated that the restaurant, which we had featured on Dot Com Pho and which I had visited many times in the last few years, was under renovation. This hardly came as a surprise, as it was in obvious need of some freshening up. What did come as a surprise was when I visited the location some time later to discover that A Taste of Asia was no more.
In its place stood a brand new Vietnamese restaurant, appropriately named Tasty Pho. I guess the new owners are trying to pay some homage to the original eatery, but is it still just as good? Or is it a beefy broth shadow of its former salad roll self? We endeavored to find out.
Located next door to Hakkaku Ramen, Tasty Pho doesn’t exactly break the mold when it comes to Vietnamese restaurants in the Metro Vancouver area. The menu is largely what you would expect: pho, vermicelli, lemon grass chicken, salad rolls, iced coffee and the like. Unsurprisingly, the pricing is nowhere as cheap as its predecessor and perhaps it was the low pricing that ultimately led to the downfall of A Taste of Asia.
In addition to a fresh coast of paint and a little cleaning up, the new proprietors also installed a couple of large televisions to modernize the joint. The tables and chairs appear to be new (including a new high chair for little pho lovers). The layout is otherwise identical.
Khoai My Chien: Deep fried cassava ($5.75)
We were pleasantly surprised to find these cassava fries among the new appetizer options. Like Broken Rice down the street, Tasty Pho only gives about eight or so strips of deep fried cassava. They’re light and crispy, served with a side of what tastes like tartar sauce. And just like Broken Rice, I wish there were more of them for the price we pay. The pickled daikon and carrots could use more pickling too.
Pho Dac Biet: House special pho with rare beef, flank, tendon, tripe and beef balls ($8.95)
I opted for a large house special pho, which came with pretty well everything you could want in a bowl of pho. The rare beef wasn’t quite as rare as I would have liked, but there was a good helping of tripe and tendon in there. The broth also wasn’t as flavorful or as complex as it could have been. This is neither terrible nor spectacular.
Bun Suon Ga, Nem Nuong: Grilled pork chop, grilled chicken & grilled minced pork on rice vermicelli ($8.95)
It’s not very often that you find a combination like this that involves three sizable cuts of meat. One of those is usually replaced with a spring roll or maybe some shredded pork. Because there are three types of meat, however, each individual piece (aside from the pork chop) is on the smaller side, especially the chicken. I’m usually a big fan of grilled minced pork and this version could have used more seasoning.
Many people will tell you that it’s difficult to stand out as an amazing pho restaurant and perhaps that is true. Even pho that is merely mediocre can be incredibly satisfying and that’s largely the kind of experience you can expect at Tasty Pho. It’s just okay, neither offering the great value that A Taste of Asia once did nor the tastier dishes you may find elsewhere. Even so, I will likely return to give their banh mi sandwiches a shot.
The total bill for the two of us, including taxes and gratuity, came to just over $27. For my money, if you’re looking for a hot bowl of pho or some bun vermicelli noodles in Burnaby Heights, Triple Coconut Tree is the better choice. If you’re willing to go for a short drive, Le Petit Saigon near PNE is even better.