Even though I don’t live very far from Commercial Drive, I don’t frequent the area much despite the amount of restaurants located there. After visiting the Farmer’s market on a rainy Saturday, Es S and I passed by Five Elements Cafe. It had a “grand opening 10% off” banner and had the words Vietnamese submarines, gelato, frozen yogurt and coffee written on the window. Interesting mix of cuisines, but I was intrigued so we went inside to check it out.
Five Elements Cafe carries an array of foods; they have vietnamese dishes such as pho and subs, Thai dishes, caffeinated beverages, tea, gelato and frozen yogurt. You can click on the picture for a bigger version of the menu. Price wise, most of the dishes are under $10 other than the sizzling plates. They have a display of their selection of teas for you to smell, which I thought was a nice touch.
You pay and order at the counter,tell the cashier where you are going to sit and the food is brought to you. Water is self serve and they have a cutlery and condiment station in the back. The interior was clean and bright and I liked the exposed brick walls.
Here’s what we ate:
Es S started with a papaya coleslaw– shrimp or tofu, vinaigrette and herbs. Along with shredded papaya, the coleslaw included shredded carrots, basil, chopped peanuts and topped off with fried onions. We thought that the coleslaw lacked tartness and needed more fish sauce. It wasn’t bad, it was quite refreshing but it needed some more flavour.
Next to arrive was Es S’ order of pho– rice noodle soup, choice of chicken or rare beef, beef ball or special. Es S went for the special which included slices of rare beef and beef balls. Accompany the pho was a lemon wedge and bean sprouts. This was a good portion of pho filled with al dente noodles. The broth is on the sweeter side, which I prefer, but the one thing I noticed (and enjoyed) was the lack of MSG in the broth. It was a good bowl of pho.
For myself, I started off with a spring roll. This spring roll was really good, albeit a bit small. It was piping hot, crispy and so delicious; I wished I had ordered another one!
I also ordered one of the lunch specials, combo #1: choose any submarine with a choice of pop or coffee. I went for the lemon grass chicken submarine and a ginger ale (not pictured). They have a good selection of subs to choose from, including vegan, sui mai and spicy meat balls. For the sub, the bread was nice and toasted and the filling had good flavour, but there wasn’t much chicken in the sub. Other than the lack of chicken, it was a tasty sub filled with the usual pickled daikon and carrots, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Five Elements Cafe. I was pleasantly surprised with the food because I was a bit skeptical at first about the different types of food they offer. They are offering 10% off right now, so I recommend you taking advantage of that. I will be back for some frozen yogurt and to try more of their dishes!