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Order a shaking, sizzling or betel beef at this new Vietnamese eatery

Jokim Kitchen opens where the long-standing Malaysian restaurant Tamarind Hill used to be

With a cold snap in the forecast, what would be ideal is to wait for the snow with a steaming bowl of beef-heavy pho.

Lucky for New West residents, a brand new Vietnamese restaurant is flaunting the dish as one of its specials. 

"House Special Pho" is a bestseller, said Kim Chi Nguyen, owner of Jokim Kitchen. Made with premium beef, beef balls and rice noodles, the dish has been in top demand since the restaurant opened two weeks ago. 

The oodles of attention on this one menu item is probably warranted as it’s a result of more than 18 hours of effort, as per Nguyen. 

“We cook it for 18 hours until all the sweetness from the (beef) bones comes out.”

Besides the melt-in-the-mouth beef chunks in the pho, you can nosh on wok-seared and flash-sauteed "shaking beef" with fries or order your beef grilled and wrapped in flavourful betel (a plant native to Southeast Asia) leaves, at the restaurant.

So far, the eatery has gotten a flood of positive reviews from customers, said Nguyen. 

“They love my food. They say that it’s totally different from other restaurants.”

It's a resounding validation for Nguyen, who had intended her restaurant to be a place that offers authentic Vietnamese items that people can’t get anywhere else. 

Presenting the best of Vietnamese cuisine

The menu, as per Nguyen, is carefully curated based on her extensive travels around Vietnam.  

Over the years, Nguyen and her husband travelled the length and breadth of Vietnam, exploring the many different provinces and their cuisines — picking out the most popular dishes to include in their restaurant. 

“My husband and I love food,” she said.

Jokim is a result of their food-focused travels. 

Vietnam, located on the eastern edge of southeast Asia, is home to a cuisine that’s heavily influenced by those of its colonizers — France and China, as per the book Authentic Vietnamese Cooking.

While deep-frying, and the use of woks and chopsticks can be attributed to China, the prevalence of baguettes and coffee is all thanks to France.

The spicy and complex flavours that are more common to the south of Vietnam were borrowed from India; and snacks such as popcorn can be credited to the brief presence of United States of America, as mentioned in the book.

It's this mishmash of gastronomic history that Nguyen aims to whip up in her restaurant’s kitchen. 

"We have pho from the South (of Vietnam), a pork marinade that’s unique to the North, and bún bò huế (beef, pork, ham and thick noodles cooked in beef bone broth) which is more common in the middle,” she said. 

Since Nguyen’s parents are from the north of Vietnam and she was born in the south, she's had the opportunity to be exposed to the diverse cuisines across the nation, she said.

But when she moved to Vancouver a decade ago and noticed a dearth of Vietnamese food options here, she felt compelled to offer people the many unique flavours that she grew up tasting. 

Though it took 10 years, Nguyen's dream has finally taken shape as a brick and mortar restaurant — with a menu that brings the best-tasting dishes of her home country to New West.

Jokim (a combination of Nguyen's and her son’s name — Kim and Jonathan) Kitchen is located at 628 Sixth Ave.