Cambie Vietnamese Restaurant

Restaurant: Cambie Vietnamese Restaurant
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Last visited: August 10, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Riley Park/Little Mountain)
Address: 4136 Main Street
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3 (based on what I tried)
Service: 5
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Family owned/operated
  • Friendly service
  • Vietnamese cuisine
  • Specializes in pho
  • Local favourite
  • Budget friendly/cheap eats
  • Family friendly
  • Eat in/Take out
  • Accepts Interac/Visa/MC
  • Limited free parking in the back
  • Fully licensed
  • Open late
  • Open daily for lunch/dinner

**Recommendations: Pho

I came here with my sister after our Chocolate Tasting 101 class at Xoxolat. We needed something to melt away the delicious sugar and fat we had just consumed and a hot bowl of pho seemed most appropriate.

I was originally looking for Pho Tan on Main Street, but I had the wrong address and ended up not being able to find it. Little did I know it was only a few blocks further South on Main Street. Anyways I resorted to plan B which was the next pho place I could find, and that happened to be Cambie Vietnamese Restaurant. It’s hard to miss their signage considering “Vietnamese” is in font size 5000.

I’ve actually been to this restaurant over a year ago, but it was only to meet friends and I didn’t get to try anything, except for their deep fried banana with ice cream, which was good. I know many of my friends like the pho here, so I was still curious to check it out and really try their menu this time around.

The interior is pretty much the most random array of decorations I have seen in a Vietnamese restaurant. I think the only thing missing was a string of Christmas lights, but I’m sure if I walked around a bit more I would have spotted them.

The man in the photo above is the owner of the restaurant who runs the floor and I’m quite sure his wife does the cooking. He’s super friendly, outgoing and even funny, but I don’t even know if he knows that. There’s a charisma and charm about him and he socializes and appreciates all his customers. He actually seems like he’s having fun and he reminds me of Mr. Ping from Kung Fu Panda, Po’s dad who owned the popular noodle shop.

Anyways the food is one thing, but then the service is another, and I’d say the service outweighs the food here. I only tried a few things, but the pho was the highlight and the rest was quite mediocre. I guess it’s not too big of a deal considering pho is usually what you would order at a Vietnamese restaurant anyways. The service was more memorable and it’s what I remembered most about my first visit here over a year ago too. I would come again for the quirky ambiance and the pho, but have yet to explore other items, and I’m not sure how keen I am on doing it.

On the table:

Steamed Crepes2.5/6

  • 6 Steamed rice crepes stuffed with ground pork, onion and mushroom $3.69
  • I love this dish, but it was okay here and there is better. Pho Tam probably makes the best ones I’ve had to date – see their Steamed Rice Rolls (Bahn Con).
  • It was served with pickled salad and deep fried shallots and garlic on top, but they were chewy instead of crispy.
  • Traditionally it should be served with fresh bean sprouts, basil leaves, and Vietnamese ham.
  • For $3.69 I don’t want to complain too much. It’s still a great deal and decent, and likely good if it’s your first time having them.
  • Basically I wouldn’t order them entree size, and they do the job, but they’re not great for what they are.

  • There wasn’t much filling and the skin was too thick and chewy. A good one has skin that is paper thin and almost translucent.
  • It’s stuffed with ground pork and some wood ear mushrooms, but some of the meat was a bit dry and crumbly and then some of it was moist and juicy.
  • It was well seasoned stuffing and flavourful with a nice crunch from the mushrooms and tangy salad, but when you’ve had great ones, these ones just don’t really cut it.
  • It was actually really cute because we only had one roll left and the owner came over with a sad face and said “awww, who didn’t finish that?!” and started shaking his finger (non-offensively)… and with that reaction we cleaned off the plate!

They served it with peanut sauce, but traditionally it’s supposed to be eaten with the orange fish sauce called Nuoc Cham sauce, which you can ask for. The peanut sauce is the “Americanized” way to eat them, but personally I ‘d rather have peanut sauce with my Vietnamese salad rolls, and Nuoc Cham with this.

**Rare Beef Pho – 4/6

  • $6.99
  • It sound like pricey pho, but they only offer one size and that’s large.
  • You can even ask for extra noodles at no additional charge! The owner is super nice.
  • It was actually very good pho, and I’d come back for this.
  • It was served piping hot and the noodles were nice and chewy.
  • It was quite aromatic with a strong beef flavour and it wasn’t too sweet or salty.
  • The colour was a bit yellow and I’m quite sure there was added bouillon powder in it. It’s not uncommon to do that, but this one was just a bit heavier with that flavour.
  • The best pho I’ve had is still from Pho Tam – see here.

  • The beef was really good and it came with a decent amount served completely rare. It was very tender and thinly sliced and very well marbleized.
  • I still like the rare beef slices from Pho Tam better, but these are still great.

You can order as much bean sprouts and basil leaves as you want.

Spicy Basil Chicken Salad - 2/6

  • Boneless chicken satueed with sweet basil served on fresh garden salad $6.99
  • The Spicy Basil Chicken is also available as an entree over rice, but I ordered the salad version.
  • For a basil salad I was hoping to see some fresh basil.
  • I wanted it to be more traditional Vietnamese with basil, bean sprouts, pickled cucumbers, daikon and carrots.
  • I think I was most bothered that it looked nothing like the picture and there wasn’t much chicken so it actually seemed quite pricey.

I was expecting the photo above.

  • Apparently they were short staffed that night, but I’m not sure if that’s an excuse. The service was fast, but maybe they had someone who didn’t know the menu well enough to be preparing the food… ?
  • It ended up being just sauteed chicken and veggies over lettuce.

  • The salad was actually really saucy, but it was mostly shredded lettuce, sauteed onions and red bell peppers.
  • It was one small piece of boneless and skinless dark meat chicken fillet and it could have been their marinated lemongrass chicken, but I’m not sure and it wasn’t obvious.
  • The chicken was really rubbery, and it was juicy because it was dark meat, but it wasn’t great chicken.
  • It was a spicy and sweet dressing, or sauce, and again I was hoping for fresh basil leaves, but it was all dried herbs.
  • It almost tasted like a spicy honey Teriyaki based sauce with some fish sauce and it was slightly tangy like a vinaigrette too.
  • It was more sweet than salty, tangy and then a bit spicy, but not Thai food spicy either.
  • It would have been better with rice, but I probably still wouldn’t order it as an entree with rice.

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5 Comments

  • LotusRapper says:

    Whew, you’re “back” ! :-D

    String of Xmas lights ……. oh I must choked from laughing :-DD

    I only remember they’re very friendly and service was good, and the room was spacious, booths were comfy and the place lacked “greasy” kitchen smells. But food was just …… okay.

    BTW, I do recommend Pho Tan (@ 30 Ave). And they are part of the same family operation as Pho TAN’S in Kerrisdale (across from McD’s). Both are good.

  • Sherman says:

    “My Friend…” has been greeting us for years from their original location to the one now. Food is alright, but as you mentioned, the guy is hilarious…

  • Linda says:

    mmmm i love pho! i usually get the dac biet which is the special with EVERY type of meat possible.. i do love the rare beef the most though, ok i’m lying, i usually go for the tendon first lol

    aww mr. ping!!! i love his character in kung fu panda, especially in the second movie :) i’m usually a big fan of banh cuon too! i make them at home all the time, except for the wrap of course.. the filling is really easy too! ground pork, wood ear mushroom, fish sauce and shallots! nomnomnom :) but yes, the wrap here looks a bit thick and i wish the dish had some vietnamese ham with it!

    wow that basil chicken salad is definitely a disappointment when you compare it to the actual item! i’m glad the owner is super nice though.. with decent food but great service, i’d definitely go back :)

  • Mijune says:

    @LR – I was looking for Pho Tan but I didn’t drive far up enough!!! So I ended up here lol… still no complaints.. cheap, good and friendly :) Thanks for visiting me again!!!

    @Sherman – lol everyone is his friend! I love it! Yup the food is okay to good, not amazing.. but service FTW! I actually like the pho.

    @Linda – lol yay!! You know Mr. Ping too!! Oh wow you make them at home? I haven’t tried yet… I’m nervous… but I should try! Filling seems easy, but crepe part gets me. Yay for service!

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