There seem to be a never-ending stream of restaurants in Chinatown that arise out of nowhere, begging to be tried. Hoa An (9653 107 Avenue) was such a place, and I chose it for a weekday lunch destination.
It turned out Dickson had already been there, but didn’t know it until we were right in front of the restaurant. Next to the popular grocer Lucky 97, it seemed to blend in with the surroundings of the hub, with all traffic in the area seemingly drawn to the always bustling parking lot in front of the store.
At any rate, walking into the restaurant, we were immediately directed by someone to a table along one wall. Hoa An was moderately busy, with more than a handful of parties either already in the midst of their food, or waiting patiently for their orders to arrive. The overwhelmingly pink interior was an interesting color scheme, but overall, I couldn’t complain much about the well-kept dining area.
The menu, which included stir-fried dishes and a variety of noodle and vermicelli bowls, didn’t highlight anything out of the ordinary, though I likely wouldn’t have considered any dishes other than pho that afternoon anyway. I zeroed in on #35, with well-done flank ($7.35), while Dickson opted for the more interesting rare steak, well-done flank, brisket and tripe ($7.35).
In a lightning quick fashion similar to Pho Hoa and Pho Tau Bay, our orders were delivered after a short five minute wait. We both commented that the portion size seemed smaller than those served at other restaurants (notably, Pagolac), and that the broth wasn’t as hot as we would have liked. That said, I’m starting to think that trying to sway me from my current pho favourites would be next to impossible. Even though I would never be able to accurately identify, in a blind taste test, the restaurant origin of a bowl of pho, unless a serving knocks my socks off (in a good way), I doubt any new places I experiment with will replace my love of Pagolac and Hoang Long. The memories in this case of the times and meals I have had at those restaurants ultimately take precedent over the minute quality differences that may be noted in the food.
Pho with well-done flank
Pho with rare steak, well-done flank, brisket and tripe
So though Hoa An is reasonably priced and fast, I hesitate to say I’ll be back often. Hoang Long offers a closer stop from work, and the southside Pagolac a comfortably familiar setting.
9653 107 Avenue