Comfort food · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Phu Quy – AYCE Vietnamese Wraps

My colleagues asked me what I was doing for the weekend. I informed them L and I were going to Phu Quy. They all chuckled and said they loved the name of the restaurant. Phu Quy is the name of an island in Vietnam, not a swear word. Mai told me to check out this place out for all-you-can-eat beef and shrimp wraps. As she’s incredibly particular with her Vietnamese food, I had to try it.

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There wasn’t any music playing during our visit. The silence in the room took me by surprise. I considered not playing a video for this post to replicate the experience but I prefer my blog with music. For this post, let’s listen to “Wrap Her Up” by Elton John.

We ordered the all-you-can-eat beef and shrimp wraps ($26.99 per person). We received a heaping platter of raw beef and shrimp, rice paper wraps, butter, vermicelli noodles, iceberg lettuce, sprouts, basil, mint, cucumber and pickled daikon and carrots. I noticed the portions of everything we received was generous.

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The vermicelli was chopped up, so you can easily pick up and distribute it evenly around. The noodles were separate and loose and not clumped together like other restaurants that serve DYO wraps.

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The shrimp and beef were not seasoned or marinated, so you have to be liberal with the dipping sauces and tray of condiments. Dipping sauces include pineapple, peanut hoison, and fish sauce. However, I recommend also making use of the hoison and hot sauce to liven up the protein. I noticed the sauces weren’t sweet like I’m use to Pho Hoang Viet, Golden Bell (Richmond) and K-Viet.

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This picture above doesn’t show accurately how much beef and shrimp we received. It was piled high and too much for us to eat. Usually at Vietnamese restaurants, I find I don’t get enough of the mint and basil. I didn’t find that problem at Phu Quy. One of the best parts of this meal were the vegetables. The pickled daikon and carrots were sweet, tart and crunchy. The mint and basil were fragrant and fresh.

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In our first attempt of cooking, we didn’t realize the grill was too hot. The owner came out to replace the grill because he said the burned remnants of food made the grill unusable. I’d like to note that we didn’t set the temperature, our server did.

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There was a bowl that’s strategically placed by the grill to capture the drippings from the grill. I didn’t realize this and when L told me not to move it, I retorted that I didn’t like it when he tells me what to do in an Asian restaurant.  He didn’t say anything until 10 minutes later, when the water leaked onto our table. Oh god, I don’t deserve such a nice man.

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The shrimp was small and you have to remove the tails yourself.  Since it’s all-you-can-eat, it’s not a big deal. The shrimp wraps were light and needed extra help from the condiment tray.

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If you want just all-you-can eat beef, the price lowers to $23.95. Beef, shrimp, squid and fish cost $27.95. per person. I think the prices Phu Quy charges is well worth it. If I bought these ingredients myself, it would be around the same amount. Also, making this at home would be time-consuming and messy to clean up afterwards.

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The beef was lean and thinly sliced. I preferred cooking the beef until it caramelized on the grill. The hoison sauce in the squeeze tube bottle paired best with the meat.

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When I wrapped the beef filling with the rice paper wrap, the roll dripped with the sauces. I used the lettuce to wrap around the rice paper. I’d alternate between using the lettuce and rice roll to wrap my food, and in some cases both vessels.

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The family that operates Phu Quy are kind and genuine. The female owner came out and asked if we wanted another platter of beef and shrimp. No way we said, as we were too full. L forced himself to finish the remaining meat because he didn’t want to waste it.  I asked our server if customers eat more than one plate. He responded that usually the guys would eat two plates to themselves. Once, two guys came in and ate three plates. They told the owners they would stop at three plates because they were a family business, but they could eat more.  I told our server that I felt bad leaving all the fresh vegetables. He smiled and said not to worry about it.

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I’d recommend Phu Quy for their wraps if you want something healthier and different from what your accustomed to at Vietnamese restaurants.  The food wasn’t as sweet, greasy or as saucy as Korean or Japanese BBQ restaurants. I noticed all the customers dining here spoke Vietnamese and they were eating traditional Vietnamese dishes, like steamed clay pots with steamed rice. I’d like to return to try their 7-courses of beef ($49.99 for two). As we left, we saw a table being set up for a group of ten. I can see how this restaurant would be ideal for families or group of friends. Grilling your own wraps was  a communal and social experience.

Phu Quy Vietnamese Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Comfort food · Fusion · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Cuty Restaurant

Mai informed me that she doesn’t dine at many Vietnamese restaurants because almost all are too westernized for her taste. One place she does frequent is Cuty Restaurant. She told me not to get anything but the grilled wrap combo. For this post, let’s listen to Harry Nilsson – “Gotta Get Up.”

For a lack of a better adjective, Cuty is cute. You can see the effort the owner put into the decor, like the professional photographs and hanging bicycle planter basket. The tables were spotless. The washroom was clean and warm, despite the -27 weather. A pet peeve of mine are Asian restaurants that purposely keep the room cold to save money on heat. This happens a lot in Vancouver and Richmond.

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L and I ordered  the grilled platter – Banh Hoi Chao Tom Nem Nuong Bo La Lot ($19) and despite Mai’s advice, I ordered Pho Sate Bo Hoac Ga ($11.99). I looked around and noticed all the non-Asian customers ordered pho or bun. The customers speaking Vietnamese ordered the grilled combo platter. I texted Mai to tell her what I observed.

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Our server brought out a container of rice paper wrappers that also serve as a dipping vessel. The wrapper would curl in my hand from the heat of my hands. You insert the rice paper into the hot water and rotate it until it is soft.

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Our platter contained three types of protein – Banh Ho Chao Tom (grilled shrimp paste), Banh Ho Nem Nuong (grilled pork meatball) and Bo La Lot (grilled minced beef). This portion would suffice for two small appetites or be a very filling meal for one.

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You pick your protein and then fill the wrap with a mixture of lettuce, basil, mint, carrot, cucumber and vermicelli sprinkled with nuts and green onion.  The dipping sauce – nuoc cham –  was salty and sour with only a touch of sweetness. Fishier than most Vietnamese restaurants, as my hands smelled strongly for hours afterwards. Mai said there is also hoisin and satay sauce, but I think you need to ask for them.

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Of the three fillings, we enjoyed the shrimp paste the most as it was tasty and sweet. The shrimp flavour wasn’t very shrimpy.

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The pork meatball reminded me a bit of a hotdog because of its bouncy texture. The minced beef was more delicately flavoured and I found the betel leaves were soft and pliable. Bo la lot reminds me a Mediterranean dish – dolmades.

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The pho ($12) was tasty –  tangy and spicy with tender slices of beef. The broth wasn’t as hot as I would have liked. After I dumped in all the sprouts, the temperature cooled down.

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Next time, I wouldn’t mind trying the Banh Hoi Gia Truyen Cuty Quan  ($31) – a traditional platter of spring rolls, imperial rolls (taro, pork, and onion), tiger prawn rolls and pork sausage rolls. Or I’d order the grilled shrimp platter and then add the tiger prawn rolls or the imperial rolls.

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I’m a fan of Cuty restaurant so much, it makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. I’d recommend the grill roll and wrap combo. Thanks Mai for the inside tip.

Cuty Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Vietnamese

Pho Binh Minh

I already finished my lunch when Mindy and Crazy Girl asked if I wanted to join them in Forest Lawn with Buzzy for pho. I said no a few times, but when they asked me right before they were  about to leave, I decided to go. I never get to see Buzzy or go to Forest Lawn, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll eat two lunches.

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We dropped by to check out Buzzy’s new work digs and then over to Pho Binh Minh. When we arrived at 12:00 p.m., the restaurant was quiet. By the time we left, Pho Binh Minh was almost completely packed. We received tea the moment we sat down.

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I ordered a small pho sate ($8.00) while Buzzy, Meetz, Mindy and Randy ordered a large sate pho ($9.99). Crazy Girl ordered the chicken vermicelli with spring rolls. We received fresh bean sprouts (I forgot to ask for them to cooked), fresh basil and a herb that tasted like cilantro. FYI, If you don’t request cilantro, you’ll get it automatically in your soup.

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My small pho would be a good size for a child. The meat was served pink. The portion of meat was a little scanty. Not too spicy, broth had a subtle spice to it that hit your throat. The clear broth had a slightly tart taste to it, flecked with drops of oil. I was informed by my friend Asian Persuasion that the noodles are homemade. I couldn’t detect the difference.

Service was prompt and friendly. The restaurant is clean and neat. If you like a clean, simple beef sate pho, I’d recommend Pho Binh Minh.

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Pho Binh Minh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato