New Family-Run Restaurant Serves Authentic Northern Vietnamese Noodles & Rice Dumplings That Are Worth Checking Out

We’ll be honest – we never get tired of nice hot bowl of Vietnamese noodles. Whether that be a classic Pho Ga or a spicy Bun Bo Hue – we love them all.

And in Vancouver, we’re blessed to have so many stellar mom & pop Vietnamese spots offering these bowls of joy.

If you’re like us and are always on the lookout to keep trying new spots, you’ll be happy to know there’s a new one in town called Van 168 and it has a heartfelt story behind it.

The Inspiring Story Behind Van 168

Van 168 is a family-operated Vietnamese restaurant on Vancouver’s bustling Kingsway, that offers authentic Northern Vietnamese dishes.

Owning her own restaurant was a dream for owner and chef Linh, but that has now become reality, for her to share her culture, heritage and passion for food to the city she calls home.

Linh grew up in Hải Phòng, Vietnam with a big family that struggled financially. She spent much of her time helping her mother in the kitchen cooking for the family. To make sure there was enough food on the table, she sacrificed her portions by making do with only congee and water.

When she saved up a tiny bit of money, Linh would spend it on noodle soup dishes like phở, which were considered luxuries to her back then.

At the age of 16, she immigrated by herself to Vancouver. She eventually ended up working in various Vietnamese restaurants along Kingsway as a cook and ran her own catering business before opening Van 168.

What’s with the name?

For Van 168, the name has a special meaning. Firstly, it’s part of Linh’s middle name but also references Vancouver (Van). Whereas the number “168” was suggested by her friends and family because it symbolizes luck and prosperity in Chinese culture.

Even more auspiciously, the address of the restaurant begins with 888—which means triple fortune in both Chinese and Vietnamese cultures.

What’s the food like at Van 168?

Van 168 has an extensive menu and offers many unique and specialized Northern Vietnamese dishes.

The price per bowl of noodles is set at the standard of $17, yet we were taken aback by the generous portion sizes and abundance of ingredients. All things considered, it’s definitely worth the money compared to other similar establishments.

Yes, you’ll find your usual Pho Ga and BBH here – both being actually very well done and flavourful. Even though we are quite weak with spicy food, the spicy Pho Ga wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. We even added some extra chili flakes to kick it up a notch.

One of their specialties is the Bún Ốc Chả Ốc, which is described as freshwater snail and steam snail sausage with vermicelli noodles in soup. You can think of this as Bun Bo Hue but swapping the meat for snails and a bunch of fragrant herbs included.

Bún Ốc Chả Ốc

It was filled with these tiny snails that were chewy and had a slight earthy umami flavour.

If you’re looking to try something new and not really offered at other Pho spots, then this is the dish you want to get.

Van 168 also has an assortment of rice dumplings and rice cakes that require you to preorder 1 day in advance. According to their team, these are labour intensive to make.

On the menu is Bánh Khúc or Xôi Khúc, a delicious glutinous rice ball or sticky rice dumpling made with sticky rice, mung beans, onions, and pork; Bánh Dầy / Giầy Giò Kep Chá, around sticky rice cake with pork ham wrapped in banana leaves; and Bánh Đa Kê, a steamed millet cake with mung beans.

Because we ordered the Bánh Dầy Giò Một Cặp Kẹp Chả to go, we had to assemble it ourselves. A helpful tip from our Vietnamese friend was that you can opt for one layer of sticky rice rather than two – this would give a more balanced flavour with the ham.

And if you’re like us who LOVES iced Vietnamese coffee with their noodles, then we highly recommend grabbing their Cà Phê Sữa Đá. Although it took a while to get, it was well worth the wait as it was one of the better ones we’ve had in the city.

The Interior

Like other hole-in-the-walls, the interior here is simple. You’ll see that much of the decor from the previous Tina’s Cake Dessert was actually left intact like the large chalk board, the flower decor, and TV stands.

Even before you enter the restaurant, you’ll see the entire building wrapped up in blue mesh and currently undergoing construction. So don’t be weirded out if you may hear the sound of drilling and see workers hard at work outside while you dine in.

If you are familiar with the local hole-in-the-wall restaurants, you know that the atmosphere often adds to their charm. It isn’t about the aesthetics but rather the vibe and the food.

Overall, if you’re looking for an authentic taste of Northern Vietnamese cuisine as well as a story about one woman’s courage and determination to pursue her dreams, head over to Van 168 on Kingsway!

And if you do go because of our post, make sure to tag us in your post and stories so we can ask how you liked it!

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Address: 888 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC

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