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Best Pho in Calgary

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I was wondering what are the Calgary Hound's favourite Pho restos in town?
The best Pho that I have is at Pho Hoai in Chinatown...their Pho Sate is outstanding.

Hart

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  1. Pho Hoai is the one inside the Far East Shopping Centre, right? It's not too bad, but I personally prefer Pho Pasteur Saigon, around the corner (facing the Harry Hays building, right next door to the best Vietnamese Sub place - Thi Thi?)

    My coworkers preferred Little Vietnamese Village, which was in the space at the south end of the mall, you have to go down a couple of steps to go inside. Sadly, Little Vietnamese Village either closed or moved maybe a year ago and there's a different restaurant there; what's sadder is that most of my coworkers never noticed the difference, other than that their standard #29 (Bun with grilled pork and spring roll - aka White Man's Special) was now something in the 50s.

    1. Pho Hoai is indeed in the FE shopping center.

      For me, it depends on the type of Pho.

      For Pho Sate, my favorite is Saigon Y2K - they have the thick broth like my favorite pho sate restaurants in Edmonton, Pagolac and Oriental Noodle House. A close second is Noodle King. Their's is a very different variation (a more rich type of broth...tastes like some coconut milk in there to me), but quite tasty.

      For Bun Bo Hue, I havent found one im happy with yet. The broth is always too runny...Should be a rich broth with a heavy kick.

      For Pho Tai or other variations, i like Pho Pasteur or Pho So 1.

      1 Reply
      1. re: yen

        Pho Pasterur is good for downtown but all the good stuff is in the hood.
        Pho Xuan, Pho Hoan, Pho Binh Minh,

        -----
        Pho Binh Minh
        4710 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2A 0V1, CA

        Pho Xuan Restaurant
        920 36 St NE #128, Calgary, AB T2A 6L8, CA

      2. Interesting...I was aware of the Viet sub place around the corner but did not know about Pho Pasteur. I will have to give it try. I suspect why I like Pho Hoai is that it was my first introduction to Pho Sate some years ago and found it very flavourful and spicy. I must admit I'm not much of an expert but I have not had anything similar in Calgary.

        Cheers,
        Hart

        1. I'd like to second Pho So 1 on center & 16th Ave NW for straight up pho. I like their broth, and they're really good at packaging everything up for take out, with rare beef in it's own plastic wrap, hoisin & hot sauce, basil, sprouts and hot peppers. They're my go-to folks when i'm sick and want soup.

          Pho Minh Chau (sp?) on 9th Ave SE in Inglewood makes a mean bowl of soup as well, their sate is pretty good (their grilled pork is better, however ;)

          1. I don't want to sound like a wet blanket, and that is probably not even the right term. But to me, Pho is Pho is Pho. Granted I am sure there are some that slip in/out of that generalization. I know the stock takes a while to make so there could be some differences here, but it always makes me smile when people talk good/best vietnamese because I truly dont see much difference. After visiting Vietnam and seeing all the street food you realize how basic, cheap and simply prepared it is.
            That being said, I go to Halong Bay, Codo, Dalat and all the usual suspects in my area, never finding too much variance between them all.

            www.rundown.blogspot.com

            3 Replies
            1. re: misscheeks

              Sorry, but i respectfully disagree. In one sense, you're definitely right - what goes into Pho is pretty much the same. It is basic, cheap, and simply prepared. It should be completely repeatable.

              However, the variations i find in Vietnamese restaurants here in Calgary concern several things:

              1. How long they reduce the broth for. Many places fail to concentrate the flavours of the broth, leaving a weak, watery product. There are huge differences between Vietnamese restaurants in the richness, the flavour, and the consistency of the broth.

              2. Quality of the ingredients. Fresh ingredients are the Vietnamese way... this often is not the case locally, where i've gotten moldy basil, terrible sprouts, and crappy beef.

              3. Regional differences. Even within Vietnam there are regional differences in how broth is prepared, constructed etc... there are a lot of Vietnamese immigrants in Calgary from differing regions, and they all reflect a different style of Pho.

              Now to most people, im being an anal-retentive, picky snob. But with regards to food, that is what being a Chowhound is all about. While what is good/best is all a matter of personal preference, i believe there is significant variance in the Vietnamese restaurants in Calgary.

              1. re: yen

                It's my understanding (and I've heard this from people who've lived/visited there) that in Vietnam, pho often has MSG- in fact they often use a powdered soup base (no stock, no reducing, no "cooking" really), and very very little meat. As such, the pho in North America is, like Mexican food in the US, often better (made with more expensive ingredients) than at "home."

                1. re: yen

                  Just to add a couple things, the seasoning of the broth is really important as well - the spices should be balanced. I like how it's sour in some places as well, though am not sure where the sourness comes from. Not just from the lime they give you.

                  Another point is that good Vietnamese cooking contrasts and balances textures skillfully, even in something like hot soup. This kind of attention to textural detail is reflected in the variety of cuts of meat you can order in it. So you get a piece of tendon melting in your mouth one moment and a crunch of sprouts the next. Many places do not cut or cook the meat carefully enough. Would not surprise me at all if in Vietnam, as here, there is more bad pho than good.

              2. I can't speak to #3 above but I would certainly concur with Yen's observations in #'s 1 & 2. I guess that is why I have always liked Pho Hoai.

                1. To each his own obviously, but I guess your point about chowhounders being anal-retentive is exactly why I found it odd to see a post about Pho. I just dont see it as much to dissect with Pho as with say...a steak, curry, seafood preparation, pastry etc etc. It is an extremely simple meal and obviously the best possible ingredients should be used. Rotten basil and bad sprouts sound awful!! I just never see that food crime happening THAT much in Calgary vietnamese places, and I attirbute that to the simpicity of the preparation and use of extremely basic ingidients. But ya, stock is its own beast...so I'll give you that one! :-)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: misscheeks

                    Yes! I won one! :)

                    I do think it's funny though that you think a steak has a lot more to dissect. Salt, pepper, oil, sear, rest, eat isnt more complex than Pho in my opinion! Different strokes... it's what makes this board so much fun.

                    And with respect to Ha Long Bay - are you talking about the one on 7th Ave downtown? I've had two horrible experiences there. I find it surprising that someone with such discerning taste would enjoy it.

                    1. re: yen

                      Yo Miss... i just re-read this and it sounds snarky. It was supposed to be more tongue-in-cheek than it seems. No offense, it was all in good fun- it doesnt sound quite as i intended - sorry!

                      1. re: yen

                        Not to worry yen. i just must be blessed with the good fortune of getting consistently good pho in calgary.

                  2. My family is quite partial to Pho Anh (just south of Pho So #1 on Centre Street N). Using my kids as a barometer, they love the Pho there, especially the broth, and they've eaten at a ton of Vietnamese places.

                    Myself, my favourite is the beef/chicken curry noodle soup - excellent coconut milk based broth. Why can't there be more places in Calgary with curry noodle soups?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ybnormal

                      I hadn't been to Pho Anh in quite some time (probably 3 or 4 years), so i figured i'd reacquaint myself with it today. Your kids have good taste buds... it was excellent :)

                      Pho So 1 also has a really good Curry soup, though they use turkey and chicken, and have this weird potato croquette soaking in it :) It isnt quite as rich as the one at Pho Anh... but that isnt always a bad thing.

                      1. re: yen

                        Will have to go back to Pho So 1 again and try their curry soup. Thanks for letting me know!

                      2. re: ybnormal

                        Just returned from our first visit to Pho Anh - loved the beef/chicken curry noodle soup! Even though it is further for us to travel than Y2K we will definitely be making the trip again.

                        1. re: Zydeco_Mama

                          I have been eating Pho Anh's curry noodle soup for a while. My family is malaysian and we love our curry, and we all think the soup here is just amazing. Most of my family is in Toronto now, but whenever they visit they always come back to this place for their curry noodles.

                          Sadly I find the rest of their menu pretty unappetizing, and I love pho.

                      3. I love Sunny Vietnamese on 2nd Ave in Chinatown ... it has fantastic broth

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Miles

                          I second that opinion. That and CoDo, and Pho Xuan (in Vista Landing, in the NE), are my favourite places for pho.
                          I noticed this thread is from last year and I think Bagolac and Y2K in the NW have really gone downhill. The last few times I was at Bagolac, it seemed like there was at least an inch of oil sitting on top of the soup.
                          The cuts of meat at Y2K are not tender. And the last few times I went to Y2K, every time I walked in there was
                          a) all new staff (is this a sign of bad management?) and
                          b) almost no asian customers. There used to be a lot of asians going there.
                          In my humble opinion, I think that when asians stop going to an asian restaurant, things are going wrong. Or perhaps not wrong... If it's still popular, then it's probably just losing authenticity to satisfy the local palate.

                          1. re: charliel

                            Go to Golden Bell Saigon on Macleod Trail. It's owned by the same people that own Bagolac, except it's cheaper, better, and has a larger menu (including some pretty good subs). The interior is old though.

                            Y2K's meat has definitely gone downhill. They used to use rib eye as the raw meat; I can't tell what they use anymore.

                            1. re: charliel

                              I totally agree. I think that Bagaloc is not authentic at all. Very western to me.. Their pho is horrible.

                          2. my favorite restaurant is GOLDEN BELL on macleod trail.

                            1. Please tell me if there are any good vietnamese restaurants in the northwest. I have recently marooned myself in the suburbs here and I am desperately seeking pho without a 30 minute commute.

                              1. Saigon Y2K has a location near Macmahon, in the strip mall with Joey's on Crowchild and about 24th Ave. I like Y2K's curry fried rice, never had their pho.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: John Manzo

                                  They have the best pho sate (chicken and beef, though the beef is better) in the city, maybe with the exception of Noodle King. It's "edmonton" style - thick, spicy, and flavourful, not some chopped peanuts and hot sauce tossed into the pho.

                                  The rest of the pho is decent as well.

                                2. There is a Vietnamese place in the mall north of Winston Churchill High and in Silver Springs in the mall by Nose Hill Dr. Both are ok but I am also not a pho fan so can't recommend them particularly for that.

                                  1. thanks for the info. I will try them all out, although I confess that pho isn't my thing so much as the bun (noodle) dish. I do love sate though so thanks yen for the description, mouth-watering as always.

                                    1. If you want good bun then both the place by Winston Churchill and the one in Silver Springs are better in my opinion than Y2K Saigon. Also, the Silver Springs restaurant has a very nice sate chicken over rice.

                                      1. On the subject of bun- there is a Vietnamese place in the mac hall food court at U of C that I've only found to be terrible, but for the first time I tried their lemongrass chicken on bun instead of on rice (one thing I hated was that their rice is always mushy, which ruins whatever charm the rest of the food might have)...well, somehow these folks have the most perfectly cooked noodles, very generous portion w/ the usual veg (shredded carrots and such) and peanuts. Since I work at U of C it was a pleasure to get something that was more than workmanlike for lunch.

                                        1. The absolute best Pho is the one across the street from the Harry Hays building, right beside the best Vietnamese subs in town.

                                          The second best place is Ming Chau in Inglewood. The third best place is Codo on 17th Ave.

                                          However, if you're looking for Pho Sate, Codo's is absolutely the best.

                                          IMHO, of course. Well, except for the sub place :)

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Shazam

                                            Partial to CODO myself, a quick walk down the street and I'm there.

                                            a #14 (pho sate) large with extra beef, a #1 (spring rolls), and a pepsi or a tiger, depending on my mood, a newspaper, and I'm a happy camper.

                                            Would definitely like to try some other takes on the classic PHO though, the thicker style broth does sound interesting.

                                            1. re: young lion

                                              i just discovered this new vietnamese restaurant called Annam pho on memorial near 52nd street, it's sooo good *droool* and way cheaper compared to a lot of other vietnamese places in calgary. i had the sate beef pho tonight and it was the best. and my girlfriend had the lemongrass chicken on vermicelli and she loved it too. thumbs up!

                                              1. re: shanedel

                                                do you know the exact address ?

                                                1. re: sleepycat

                                                  good evening sleepycat. i don't know the exact address. all i know is if you keep driving on memorial (i live downtown) past marlborough mall towards the burger king, it's on your right hand side. if you drive past the burger king then you've missed it. it's in the same strip mall with a RBC bank. enjoy ;)

                                          2. CODO on 17th Ave and Pasteur if u r downtown.

                                            Those are my top two after eating this stuff for lunch for like the last 8 years :-)

                                            1. The best Pho I have ever eaten is at Pho Pasteur ... #19, Large Pho Satay. Get an order of their spring rolls, 27A, best spring rolls I have ever eaten. To the poster who says pho is pho is pho - you either cannot differentiate between tastes or have never eaten really good and really bad pho. Reader's digest had a big article about pho and its varieties in this years June issue.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: trevorcroft

                                                There is a new vietnamese joint going in to where Bottoms Up pub used to be on 17th Avenue and about 31st Street SW. Called something like Cochochine.

                                                1. re: fotze

                                                  It hasn't opened yet but I will certainly try it when it opens, only 2 blocks from home! In the meantime my favorite Viet. restaurant moved from a tiny spot on Bow Trail to 17ave by 37th. Really nice and the best Pho I have ever tried and I have tried CODO and a few others mentioned.It's called Pho Huong Viet, fast service and exellent food, I'm always checking the bill twice cause I think they are undercharging me! So cheap for so much and so good!!

                                                  1. re: beekeroc

                                                    beekeroc, is Pho Huong Viet the place that was in the strip mall with poor traffic access at the corner of Bow Trail and 33rd St?

                                                    1. re: aktivistin

                                                      Tried there once and it was terrible. The teenage cook that you could see from the front was necking with some girl in the back.

                                                      1. re: aktivistin

                                                        Yes, same place. The new place is so much nicer. New address is 3855 17th Ave. S.W.

                                                    2. re: fotze

                                                      Cochinchine is open now. I went there a few months ago. The decor is really quite nice. The food is ok, it's nothing spectacular. I'd rather go to Pho Huong Viet since they're pretty close to each other. Plus, Pho Huong is much cheaper and faster.

                                                    3. re: trevorcroft

                                                      Okay... all these recommendations for Pho Pasteur and so I finally convinced my self-proclaimed pho expert friends to come with me there. Well, it was the worst pho I have ever had in Calgary. The only time I didn't finish a bowl. The broth was lackluster and my friends complained about the quality of the beef.

                                                      I was so embarrassed because usually I let them guide me around the city to the best pho places... and this time I led them here, and led them astray! They said they've been eating pho in Calgary their whole lives and this was the most disappointing!

                                                      They prefer Noodle World and Pho Binh Minh, around 17th SE. I prefer Song Viet, and also Pho Hoai, both in Chinatown.

                                                      -----
                                                      Pho Binh Minh
                                                      4710 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2A 0V1, CA

                                                      1. re: existential_crisis

                                                        I keep trying other recommended places and I'm always disappointed I didn't go to Noodle World, where I have never been disappointed by anything on the menu, Mrs Scary too.

                                                    4. I've seen this topic around and I had to register to comment. Pho outside of Forest Lawn is the equivalent of pasta outside of Bridgeland (generally speaking). There's decent tasting pho and there's properly-done pho. There's nothing wrong with liking the taste of those other restaurants, but if you want to try the more authentic taste, head to Little Saigon Square.

                                                      1. After trying a few places on my visits down from Edmonton over the last few years, I lean towards the pho sate at Pho Dau Bo. It started my journey for good sate in Edmonton. Delish.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: raidar

                                                          I would like to say the place in silversprings has the best soup I have ever had , i prefer the spicy beef flank soup. Seems like when I try the soup elsewhere I am always disapointed

                                                          1. re: Foodiemud

                                                            Do you mean Taste of Saigon? I like it too although I have to confess as to being a newbie to Vietnamese cuisine. I also really like their lemongrass chicken.

                                                            1. re: Jasz

                                                              Re Jasz
                                                              Yes thats the place.
                                                              Tried a few different places in the last couple of weeks , and I like the silversprings place "taste of saigon" the best

                                                            2. re: Foodiemud

                                                              I am not a soup fan but we go to this restaurant occasionally because it is convenient and I'm not fond of their bun (vermicelli). We were there last night and i tried it again. They make it without basil or mint and I miss that. I do like their sate chicken or beef on rice though.

                                                          2. adding links:

                                                            -----
                                                            Pho Dau Bo
                                                            4909 17 Ave SE #110, Calgary, AB T2A, CA

                                                            Pho Pasteur Saigon Restaurant
                                                            207 1 St SE, Calgary, AB T2G 2G3, CA

                                                            Sunny Vietnamese Restaurant
                                                            111 2 Ave SE #201, Calgary, AB T2G 0B2, CA

                                                            Noodle King Vietnamese Restaurant
                                                            2323 32 Ave NE #119, Calgary, AB T2E 6Z3, CA

                                                            Pho Hoai Vietnamese Noodle House
                                                            132 3 Ave SE #16, Calgary, AB T2G 0B6, CA

                                                            Pho Anh Huyen Noodle House
                                                            1403 Centre St NW, Calgary, AB T2E 2R8, CA

                                                            Pho Xuan Restaurant
                                                            920 36 St NE #128, Calgary, AB T2A 6L8, CA

                                                            An-nam Pho Vietnamese Cuisine & Grill
                                                            5269 Memorial Dr SE, Calgary, AB T2A 4V1, CA

                                                            CO DO Vietnamese Restaurant
                                                            1411 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 0C6, CA

                                                            La Cochinchine
                                                            3220 17 Ave SW #130, Calgary, AB T3E 0B3, CA

                                                            Pho Huong Viet Noodle House
                                                            3855 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T3E 0C3, CA

                                                            Thi Thi Vietnamese Submarine
                                                            209 1 St SE, Calgary, AB T2G 2G3, CA

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: rosetown

                                                              added to database:

                                                              -----
                                                              Bagolac Saigon Restaurant
                                                              6130 1A St SW, Calgary, AB T2H 0G3, CA

                                                              Golden Bell Saigon Restaurant
                                                              6008 MacLeod Trail SW #106, Calgary, AB T2H, CA

                                                              Minh Chau Vietnamese Restaurant
                                                              1318 9 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0T3, CA

                                                            2. In the far NE, my favourite local is Saigon Passion. Their, pho, beef, beef balls, tendon, and tripe is fabulous, and all their buns are more than decent. I've taken guests there many times and all are happy. Their beef is AAA.
                                                              One guest, couldn't get over the quality of the broth but couldn't finish because of the serving size, so I told him to finish what he could and leave the broth. In conversation with the hostess, on a later occasion, I related the tale, and she politely regaled me, pointing out that the broth was the best part and he should have left some of the noodles. Upon reflection, she was absolutely correct. :)

                                                              -----
                                                              Saigon Passion
                                                              5075 Falconridge Blvd NE #400, Calgary, AB T3J 3K9, CA

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: rosetown

                                                                Yes! I've been here a couple of a times for lunch and kept forgetting the name of the place, but yeah, the pho here was awesome.

                                                              2. I'm not going to claim it's the best in town or anything but Golden Bell Saigon on Macleod tr across from Chinook centre is worth a trip for those who ejoy a good Pho. It's definitely not fancy but the owners are super friendly and have always provided me with excellent speedy service.

                                                                I find their regular pho broth (not sate) combined with some of their chilli sauce to be very rich and delicious. There's a depth of flavour in their soup that I really like. Also, I think I prefer their spring rolls to Codo's and Bagolac's but this is obviously just a matter of personal taste.

                                                                Another thing I'll mention is that they have really good combo meals. For about $13 you get a small wonton soup (very good) with a vermicelli dish that includes charbroiled pork and sping rolls as well as tea or a pop.

                                                                It may not be a destination restaurant but I'd encourage anyone in the SW to give it a shot.

                                                                -----
                                                                Golden Bell Saigon Restaurant
                                                                6008 MacLeod Trail SW #106, Calgary, AB T2H, CA

                                                                1. For a big bowl of regular pho soup I like Pho Pasteur

                                                                  Beef Sate - Noodle King in NE (I also like their spring rolls)

                                                                  Bun Bo Hue and Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepe) - TNK

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: foodkarma

                                                                    I was happy to discover one of the owners of TNK opened Pho Tai in the NE near Sunridge. It's right by my work.. Their Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepe) and Thit Bo Nuong La Lot (Grilled Beef wrapped in Betel Leaves) are great! They give you tons of lettuce, rice paper, and herbs to wrap them with.

                                                                    I also like their bun bo hue.

                                                                    I still stand by Pho Pasteur for a simple bowl of Pho Tai but like yen posted near the beginning of this thread, I think Pho is a dish that has differing individual preferences (like pizza). The most important part for me is the stock, I like a stock that has that natural sweetness from the meat like it's been simmering for hours and hours.

                                                                    For Sate Pho, I do like that thicker broth and Noodle King is good for me.

                                                                  2. Pardon my ignorance, but what is Pho? I have never tried Vietnamese food, so I don't know what to expect. I have a problem eating at foreign restaurants, because I have a really sensitive stomache and the thought of eating...uuhhmm...foreign animal parts (to me) is nauseating at best. *shrinks in fear of opening a Pandora's box*

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Godslamb

                                                                      Pho is soup.

                                                                      Picture a big (sometimes bathtub sized) bowl of broth with noodles... add in the meat(s) of your choice , beef (which is just that), rare beef (raw but the hot broth cooks it to a rare state), etc (stuff that you probably are referring to.. tripe, tendon). Throw in some a bit sliced onion, bean sprouts, a squirt of lime....

                                                                      With really, really good pho, the meat is the least important part of it. The broth is what really matters.

                                                                      1. re: tex_in_yyc

                                                                        I see...thank you for your response! :)

                                                                      2. re: Godslamb

                                                                        You want Pho Tai (Pho with rare beef). If you don't like random animal parts then don't try tendon, tripe, etc. just yet.

                                                                        I love Pho Hoai. It's really beefy broth, not so much like the heavy five-spice flavour you get at other places. And the beef goes in basically raw, bright red, cooking right in front of you in the broth. Some places will give you precooked beef when you ask for rare.

                                                                      3. If you folks haven't tried it yet, Pho Phuong Vi on 16th Ave. NW just east of 14th Street is MONEY.

                                                                        Outstanding broth (apparently this place used to be in Mission?) and great service every single time. Our fave Pho place now probably.

                                                                        1. Recently had Pho Kim and Pho So 1 (which I used to like) but was let down by their mediocrity.

                                                                          If any of you Calgary folk have a chance to come up to Edmonton, try Ninh Kieu downtown 10708-98 St and compare with your favorite place in yyc. I'd love to know where in Calgary you can find similar or better pho than Ninh Kieu.