I have driven by Wooden Fish – Vietnamese Cuisine – in West Vancouver on many occasions, and never gave it a second thought. West Vancouver is not the first place I would think of going to for Asian cuisine. However, on a recent trip to the area, I decided to check the place out for lunch, and I am glad I did. They have a few nice spots for outdoor dining and the indoor setting is very nice which is not usually the focus in many Vietnamese restaurants.
The menu was exciting. I saw a few things that are not typically on the menus of Vietnamese restaurants such as fresh lobster roll, grilled sablefish and foie gras to name a few. You have the option of adding bone marrow to the Pho, and they differentiate Northern from Southern cuisine. This level of detail is not found in many area Vietnamese restaurants. More to say about this below. Anyway, we started with some pork, chicken and nem nuong (minced meat) skewers. The flavor from the grill and marinade was incredible. The presentation fantastic. Lots of little details like the in house made pickled veggies on the side and crispy coconut toppings made a world of difference. This attention to detail would be a recurring theme with each dish.
Next were chicken wings with spicy glaze. Tons of umami.
We also had the spring rolls. Most places do not do this type of presentation on the spring rolls, AND provide sides like the pickled veg. The pickled veg is made in house. Its a nice touch that shows the restaurant cares. Consider that since most people do not expect this of Vietnamese restaurants in the city, they don’t have to take the time, expense and effort to make and provide the pickled veg – but they do. Much appreciated!
For my main I had the Pho. It was Hanoi (Northern) style. The main differences between Northern and Southern pho are the North has:
- wider noodles
- clear and less complex broth
- green onion topping (no basil, bean sprouts etc)
- chili sauce (no hoisin or lime)
Most of the Pho in Vancouver tends to be Southern style so know that this place is not cutting corners by not providing extra sides like bean sprouts, they are providing an authentic experience.
My wife had the Bun Cha which is also a Northern Specialty. It was as I remembered it in Vietnam, and here is a recipe to make your own bun cha.
One last thing about the attention to detail about this place – they served their water with a hint of cucumber. Overall, service was excellent and the food was fantastic. I hope the restaurant does well, people in the area give it a try and they survive the difficult times. I will definitely come back. In the end, how I know I like a place is I still think about it long after I leave and throughout the night. This definitely happened to me after this place.