Chef Pham’s take on Vietnamese food reminds me of one of my favourite chefs in Calgary, Duncan Ly (formerly of Raw Bar/Yellow Door). Dishes are creative, flavours stand out, and he spins a playful take on Vietnamese food.
Jaime and I got the chance to check out Pure Vietnamese this past Saturday. We started off with a glass of pinot gris ($8.00). The glasses were chilled, the wine cold and refreshing.
Kudos to our server Dani. She ensured that the food Jaime ordered was vegetarian, from the dipping sauce to the sauce in another dish.
I started off with the Sate Surf and Turf ($9.00). I wasn’t sure what it was based on its description, but it’s a salad roll. Each piece was garnished with shrimp, stuffed with fresh herbs, noodles and a slice of beef. I liked the crunch from the shrimp, crispy onions and cucumbers. Filling, light and refreshing.
Chef Pham sent us a salad on the house, the Papaya and Mango Salad ($10), with shrimp on the side for me. The grilled sate shrimp was spicy and sweet. I loved the edible flowers and the freshness of the julienne young papaya. The peanuts and rice crackers added another dimension to this lovely salad.
Next up was one of our favourite dishes when Chef Pham was at Watercress, Kimchi Fried Rice ($11.75). At Pure Vietnamese, this version is saucier and heavier on the gochujiang. Beware, this is a spicy dish. A fried egg with a still soft center, scallions and a whack of sesame seeds completes this dish. Heaven.
The vegetarian spring rolls ($6.75) were so delicious that I didn’t miss the meat. The filling of cabbage, mung bean, carrots and glass noodles was creamy, the wrapper crunchy though oily. I should have done what Leng Lui taught me – to press a napkin around it before eating the spring roll.
Finally, we ate a side order of snap peas, mushrooms and onions ($8.00). Speckled with black and white toasted sesame seeds, this simple dish was properly cooked. The snap peas were sweet and crunchy.
My office manager loves Vietnamese food, and I’m going to recommend that she and the rest of my office family check out this gem. The food is delicious and reasonably priced. I also found the portion sizes more generous than Watercress. This is food to share with a group of people. I can’t wait to take my husband back so I can try some of the meat dishes, like the Claypot Chicken, Lobster Fried Rice, and pretty much everything on the menu.
Kudos to Chef Lam Pham for leaving his popular eatery, Watercress on 17th Ave, to start a new venture, Pure Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar. Growing up, I saw my mother start up and run her own businesses and the experience has forever traumatized me. The long hard hours, financial risk and need to persevere through it all is damn scary. I wish him all the success in his latest venture.
FYI – between 2-5pm, happy hour features appetizers at half off with the purchase of a drink. At that price, the food is practically free. Fei Po likes Pure Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar so much, she’s talking about herself in the third person that this new restaurant is making it on her list of the most favourite restaurants in Calgary.