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Must find Pho Sate (satay)

I moved to Montreal from Winnipeg just over two years ago. For most types of food (and most everything else), Montreal is a REAL step up, believe me. There are just two things that I simple cannot find and can no longer live without. The item that I wish to discuss in this thread is Pho Sate. The other article will be addressed in a separate thread, because it will easily overshadow the discussion on Vietnamese food.

Pho Sate is a variation on Vietnamese Pho soup. The difference is that Pho Sate has a spiciness and heartiness from the addition of some sort of chili-peanut paste. When done correctly, it's heaven on earth... the most satisfying soup in existence. My sources from my favorite Winnipeg Pho spot (Thanh Huong) tell me that it's a specialty of Northern Vietnamese cooking and that there are moslty southern Vietnamese in Montreal, thus the lack of Pho Sate on menus.

What I NEED from you chowhounds is reports of Pho Sate. Please tell me where I can find it and if it's any good.

I did follow one report of Pho Sate all the way to Ville St. Laurent (somewhere with 'paris' in the name) and it DID serve Pho Sate but it was unspeakable oily and vile.

Please... Help.

Aaron

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  1. Well, the whole concept of pho satay is a little confusing, as one is Vietnamese, and the other Malay. I'm not saying never the twain shall meet, but Cambodia is the only country I've been to where those styles come together in any form. I've never seen peanut sauce, like satay, in Vietnam. While peanuts are used everywhere, it's most often as a crushed garnish on top on bun bo or beef salad.
    I'd be curious to try it if you do find it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: bomobob

      It's odd. You can find it at most Vietnamese places in Winnipeg but virtually nowhere (I know of one bad example) in Montreal. I am certain that chili is involved which give the soup it's texture and red colour but the peanut thing is only a guess.

      Here is a pic if it jogs anyones memory:
      http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2144/2...

      1. re: The Chemist

        Yes, a picture IS worth a thousand words. That soup is found in the extreme Southwest of Vietnam, in the Mekong Delta. That's a tomato floating in it, right? Do they ever put in bits of pineapple in Winterpeg?
        There was one legendary - in my mind,anyway - Vietnamese place in Montreal, long before the explosion. It was called Tong Nam, and it was where the right-hand side of Hong Kong is today, back when Hong Kong was half its present size. They were Vietnamese/Cambodian, and did THE single best soup ever in Montreal. It was a S. Vietnamese style hot and sour soup, a bit like Tom Yum, but taken to a different level. I was so sad when they closed, but was ecstatic to find the same soup in Vietnam. They also did a soup like you're describing, and like in the picture. Maybe they use the word satay in the description because of the peanut connection.
        I had soups like that in both S. Vietnam and Cambodia, but haven't seen them here.
        Pho Bang, late of Cote des Neiges, used to do a Cochinchinese soup on weekends only, which was probably quite close, but without the peanuts.

        1. re: bomobob

          Thank you for you reply, but I am not sure if we are talking about the same soup. The Pho Sate that I have had in other provinces were never sour and had no tomato or pineapple that was visibly detectable. The taste is something similar to what you would get if you combined a regular pho with sambal olek... but this would be only a suggestion of the flavour. Generally, it is spicy and hearty with tons of shallots. Maybe this helps.

          1. re: The Chemist

            Hmmmm, sounds like pho with sambal olek in it :)
            By that description, it actually sounds a lot like Pho Bang's Cochinchinese soup, and I think, - I don't recall for sure - but I think Pho 2000 on Ste. Catherine does it.

      2. re: bomobob

        The Vietnamese saté is very different from the Malaysian version. It's a chilli based condiment with dried shrimp, garlic and/or shallots and some other stuff. I've seen it as a condiment in a few places in town, but I've never noticed a saté soup on a menu.

        One place that serves northern Vietnamese food and could possibly have it is Kiêù Anh on St-Denis north of Jean-talon.

        Kiêù Anh
        7491 St-Denis
        514-270-2179

        Good Luck

        1. re: SnackHappy

          Thanks, I'll be checking it out. =D

          It's always so strange to me how elusive it is in Montreal. I have found it with ease in Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton as well.

        2. re: bomobob

          Saté and satay are not the same thing. do not confuse them or you'll be in for strnage looks and possible ruined dishes!

          what the vietnamese call saté is a roasted chili paste made with gralic and shrimp paste
          what every one else calls satay is a peanut based sauce, with varying preparations.

          Pho Saté, I just heard mention, is on the menu at Pho Bang NY (where I never go myself)

          Also, and I mentioned this once before somewhere on this board, you can try to ask for saté (make sure to pronounce it properly: sah-tÉ, not satay) at any vietnamese place and if they know their stuff they'll bring you a little dish of it. Warning: it's *really* hot. :)

          enjoy

          1. re: bopuc

            The Pho Sate I tried at Pho Saigon VIP(Ste-Catherine West) had a peanut based sauce. I didn't really care for it, but I never tried Pho Sate anywhere before.

        3. Spotted today on the menu of Restaurant My-Tien on Plaza St-Hubert.

          Listed as Satay soup. I think it came in beef, chicken and shrimp versions. I didn't try it though and can't speak as to the quality of the restaurant.

          DTV Inc (Restaurant My-Tien)‎
          6670 rue Saint-Hubert
          (514) 495-6555‎

          8 Replies
          1. re: SnackHappy

            Thanks a bunch, I'll be checking it out.

            1. re: The Chemist

              I fell in love with vietnamse satay soup about 6 or 7 years ago when I lived in Montreal. There was a little divey mom&pop place about 2 blocks from work (Ste-Catherine/St-Hubert) with a satay soup so good I must have had it 3 times a week for 2 years.
              SURE wish i could remember the name of the place-- but it was south of Ste-Cat on like St-Christophe or one of those small streets. You would walk right by it if you weren't lookin for it-- bamboo blinds in the window and dark entrance... but their food is amazing, and they are always out of bahn mi by 12:01.
              good luck! I recently found it on a menu in Vancouver but it wasn't as good.

              1. re: floatingcook

                Sounds like Cafe Saigon to me.

                -----
                Cafe Saigon
                Montreal QC, Montreal, QC , CA

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  I'll be checking it out this week. Thanks for the heads up! =D

                  1. re: The Chemist

                    It absolutely IS the Cafe Saigon soup. They call it the spicy sate soup (and they have it with beef or shrimp). I used to live on Saint-Andre street, 100 ft from this extraordinary place. Since 1996, I live in Colorado, and I'm STILL looking for that very specific taste. Every year, when we go back to Montreal, we end up in the Saigon every other day, ordering the magic elixir. This soup is fantastic. Thank you for describing in in more details than I could have, and also, for giving me hope!

                    Now, where should I go to get it when we travel to Winnipeg?

                    and also, did you go to the Saigon Cafe to try it? (lucky b*stard!)

                    Let us know!

                    1. re: PatMallette

                      I am going ASAP based upon your report. Thank you so much.

                      THE place in Winnipeg is 'Thanh Huong' on Sargent in between Langside and Younge. It's a bad part of town, but it's Winnipeg, so it's the norm. The #6 pho satay is still the best soup I have ever had.

                      I'll let you know how Saigon Cafe works out. Thanks again!

                      Aaron

                      1. re: The Chemist

                        Have you tried any of places suggested here yet? Willing to try Pho Sate, is there's a establishment in Montreal that makes it very well.

                        1. re: The Chemist

                          So I tried Saigon Cafe today.

                          It might be that it has changed since you guys used to go (which would be really unfortunate) but we found this place to be really disappointing. It was sort of a bad value ($3 for one small imperial roll?) and the pho satay, while alright, was really strange. it wasn't aromatic or spicy, just oily and tasted more like a Thai soup (coconut, etc.) than anything Vietnamese. I can see how people might be into it, but it wasn't for us. Thanks for the suggestion though, but I think our hunt continues.

                          So far, the best pho satay that we have tried is at Pho Lam on Parc just north of Mont Royal. It's only available on weekends and is a bit thinner than the soup that I am craving, but it is closest. They also do some nice grilled meats and their rolls are good too! Check them out.

            2. The new downtown Vietnamese restaurant on Ste-Catherine West(a little west of Guy) called Pho Saigon VIP has Pho Sate soup on their menu. If you try it there, let me know what you think.

              1. The original comment has been removed
                1. While on Côte des Neiges today, I was looking for a lunch spot and vaguely remembered yumyum123 and mainsqueeze recommending a phô place that, in the sieve that is my mind, was near St-Kevin and had a two-part name that began with Nyun or something similar. So, when I saw Restaruant Orientale Ngan Dinh (5540A Côte des Neiges corner St-Kevin, 514 731-0663) I assumed it was it. It wasn't. (Their resto's located at 6220 CDN corner of Kent and is called Nguyun Phi.) Anyway, I'd shed my outer layers and was seated before I realized it, so I decided to stay. The menu started with a specialties section and the first specialty was phô saté, so I ordered it. Now, this was my first encounter with the beast, so I don't have a yardstick to judge it against. But it looked almost exactly like the soup in your upthread picture and hit the spot on a cold winter day. The beef was tender; the noodles and bean sprouts copious; the broth rich and fairly complex; the level of spicing tingly enough to produce some sniffles (aided and abetted by the aforementioned cold). Would guess there was some MSG in it, not that it matters to me, and could imagine an even better version, but it might be worth adding to your list of candidates.