330 Hwy 7 East
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Situated in the Golden Gate Plaza, the restaurant is right where the former Xe Lua Vietnamese Cuisine with its iconic pho train store sign used to be. Having been to predecessor restaurant a couple times in the past, I can tell you that nothing has really changed. The renovations and furnishing are exactly the same, and the menu is almost identical. But then again, most Vietnamese restaurants serve up similar dishes anyway. On a Friday night at around 9pm, Rob and I came here to grab a quick dinner. As you read this entry you may start to notice that I always end up ordering the same things whenever I go have Vietnamese food. I guess I know what I like!
Pho Hoang Kim restaurant
Inside the restaurant is a very spacious setting with lots of tables and chairs. The beige-grey square floor tiles, vertical bar chairs, and overall decor, really reminded me of those smaller privately owned Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong. Often those restaurants were really filthy and ghetto, so that's what I associate to these types of restaurant decor now. Despite the large size, it was practically empty when it came to customers. Perhaps it gets busier during lunch or after-hours, but it was actually kind of scary to be the only two people in the entire restaurant eating.
"Grilled Pork and Spring Roll Vermicelli" ($7.25)
The vermicelli that they serve here isn't the traditional thin ones, but instead the more common thick ones most Chinese-owned Vietnamese restaurants use. I didn't mind it too much since I actually like this type of noodle. The bowl was really hot when it was brought out to us. I wonder if this means it was pre-made and microwaved? I guess the one good thing about pre-made vermicelli is that it doesn't make it taste worse, and it won't get watery at the bottom from the noodles not being drained properly. The meat was tasty, but was too fatty for my preference. Rob then commented that it's the fat that makes it taste so good in the first place. I guess he has a point.
"Special Pho" Small Size ($6)
For a small sized pho, this was actually really big. Often times you will get a large bowl that makes it look like there is a lot food, but is really just filled with soup. Here, the bowl is a reasonable size for a small, but is packed with noodles and meat. Really good deal for $6. In terms of the quality, I have a more reserved opinion. The soup was saltier and oilier than most places, and you can actually see the layer of oil floating atop the soup from the close up picture. You might also notice the uneven width and thickness of the pho noodles. The quality of the meat wasn't that much better -- it was relatively tough and chewy. I had this one huge blob of tripe in my bowl, and it was a real mission to eat uncut. In general, not too impressed.
Overall nothing too memorable about this place. For about the same price I'd definitely rather go down the street to Time Square and eat and Kim Po. Better food, nicer environment, and most importantly, there are other people there!