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Pho Vietnam + Photos: Thoughts?

Just wondering what people's thoughts were on Pho Vietnam (location: 1280 Kennedy Rd, Scarborough). I just got back from there last night and was going to place a moderately good review - until I realized that something in the food has given me a nasty case on insomnia (MSG anyone?). Hence my posts during strange hours of the night last night.

Highlights included the Pho noodle soup, and the Bun (vermicelli with spring roll & grilled pork). Downers - the extremely meaty and soggy mango salad with shrimp chips (?).

Pho Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
Bun Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
Mango Salad Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...

The soup base was a bit better than the typical haunts (Pho 88, Pho Hoa, Phaw Chey Tao - phonetic translation; located in Chinatown, Pho Hung) in that its broth is lighter and uses more herbs. The broth is clearer than the other broths as well - but perhaps it's just me or it's one of those days - but the MSG seems a bit more heavy than usual (or it could just be that I ate dinner later than usual).

I'd go back again - though I'd make it a lunch date.

Does anyone have any great Pho/Vietnamese restaurant recommendations?

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  1. I just did the Pho Vietnam trip for the first time a couple of weeks ago, after Chowhounders' and other peoples' raves and recommendations. I dont know whether it was the hype that was created or what, but it just wasn't that great. The noodles were, I mean, not hard, but ... not soft. It wasn't the al dente soft, slurpy pho noodles at all. Under cooked, probably. And the meat to noodles ratio was out of whack - waaaaaaay too much meat for a small noodle that didnt have much noodle in it anyway. The broth? Well, that was okay. Yeah, I agree with that being lighter.. but that's it. Wouldn't go back, unfortunately.

    As for rec's, there's TONNES of posts with what's out there. Here's this comprehensive thread : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/336634.

    7 Replies
    1. re: jennjen18

      Thanks for the link, jennjen18. - I've tried most of them on the list, unfortunately, but only had the Pho Pasteur in Boston, I wonder if anyone has sampled both and can tell me if they are similar. I actually found the one in Boston to be quite average (read: strong, flavour-intensive, saltier broths) and would not be inclined to try Toronto's version if they are the same. I'll definitely check out Pho Dau Bo sometime as it appears to be the only other major one on the thread that I have yet to try (and I found the name of that phonetically translated one now: xue lu, and another I've tried Pho Viet - another very typical joint IMO. Both have broths that are a bit strong and salty for my tastes). Does anyone have any new finds?

      Another downer for Pho Vietnam - their meat. I ordered rare beef and by the time it arrived it was beyond well-done. There's nothing worse than overdone meat in a pho IMO, especially when you've ordered rare....

      1. re: BokChoi

        I never order pho in Pho Vietnam. There are other better items in there. I agree their Pho sucks.

        1. re: skylineR33

          What dishes do you like there, skylineR33?

          1. re: BokChoi

            At Pho Vietnam, this is what I usually order :

            - Sour soup (Canh Chiu)
            - Fried bean curd shrimp (Dull Ho Gai)
            - Braised Big Head Shrimp on rice
            - Vietnamese fried cake (Banh Chieu)

            Please don't pick on my translation. Cheers !

            1. re: skylineR33

              LOL, I would never do such a thing. Thanks SkylineR33, I'll give those a try next time I have a hankering for all-night Chowhound posts and lack of sleep (j/k). I've had about 1 hr of fitful sleep so far ...argh.

              1. re: BokChoi

                You are welcomed. Wish you like them !

        2. re: BokChoi

          My new fave place for pho is Pho Mi Viet Hoa in the west end. The soup has a great beefy taste comparable to the pho at Pho Dau Bo (2437 Finch Ave W.).

          Pho Mi Viet Hoa
          2887 Jane St.
          North York, ON.
          M3N 2J5

      2. Hey BokChoi... funny you should ask whether people have done the Boston Pho Pasteur vs. the Toronto Pho Pasteur.. 'coz I HAVE!!! Umm, I agree that the Boston one is quite salty and msg-y. BUT, i think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the Toronto one. I liked it right away when my SO brought me to it .. it was nice and flavourful, not overwhelming with MSG at all. Give it a try. It's on Dundas.. west of Spadina. Report back!

        2 Replies
        1. re: jennjen18

          Thanks jennjen18 - I'll give it a try then. I was just a bit worried that it resembled the Boston version - which I am NOT a fan of (even though they are packed over there with several locations). I'll give it a try and definitely report back. I managed to get about 3 hrs of shut-eye last night. Still recovering from the effects of MSG today...not looking forward to enduring that kind of night again anytime soon. Hope Pho Pasteur is a safer MSG-less bet!

          1. re: BokChoi

            I have been championing the cause of Pho Pasteur for the last few months,very underrated in Toronto.....very flavourful broth,not too sure about the MSG content but can be a bit on the saltier side......noodles are done just right,not sticking to each other...also I always order rare beef,and it comes half rare and half cooked in the broth,its a always a downer for me that in places where you order rare and you get a well done by the time it comes to you....or you can always ask for the beef on the side and dip it in as and when you want it....

        2. We go to:

          VIP Vietnamese Restaurant
          Contact : (905) 415-9699
          Address : 3229 Highway 7
          Markham, ON , L3R3P3

          It's in the First Markham Plaza, not in the mall, but one of the outer strip plazas. The staff and I believe the owner is Vietnames. We always ask for extra coriander in our Pho. At times, it can be a bit hit/miss in terms of the raw beef and a few male staff are ruder than others, but it's our first choice. Hope you will enjoy it if you haven't been there already.

          6 Replies
          1. re: red dragon

            Have not given that one a try. Thanks for the tip, red_dragon. How's there broth? I tend to like lighter, less beefier flavours.

            1. re: BokChoi

              The broth at VIP is decent(not the best around)...the selling point their is their huge slices of beef on the pho......

              1. re: BokChoi

                Hi Bokchoi - how weird does this sound? I can't remember. I know we liked the broth, because we keep going back and I've never had a problem in terms of my sensitive stomach, but it can be hit and miss depending on what time you go. Sometimes if we go too early, like 11am, to me - it's like the broth hasn't had time to simmer? Too late at night, and it seems salty. I find my taste buds are very sensitive lately, everything tastes salty. When we go out for Chinese food, I'm constantly asking for less oil and less salt. LOL, less oil at a Chinese restaurant you're thinking?? Maybe it's just me and my taste buds.

                By the way, do you like coriander? We love it so much!

                1. re: red dragon

                  Red_dragon, I totally agree with you. I find myself always asking for less oil and salt as well. May just be the whole aging process! Makes sense about the timing of the meal with respect to flavour I guess. I'll try to time my dining experiences accordingly.

                  Coriander is a newly developed liking for me - I would have to say just a few years back, I wasn't a fan. But as of late, it's added a nice punch to my broths.

                  1. re: BokChoi

                    LOL, always enjoy corresponding with you Bok Choi.

                    Here's the funny thing, most times, when we ask for less oil, less salt, we get MORE oil. I think it's intentional!

                    Are you located in downtown or uptown, if I may ask?

                    We live in Scarborough, but drive all over for good food. Yesterday, we went to Little India downtown . Sorry this is off topic, but wondering where you're located.

                    1. re: red dragon

                      That's terrible that they give you more oil just as spite. I haven't had the same experience, thank goodness. I too live uptown, but will travel anywhere (within reason) for good food!

                      Some people eat to live - I say "live to eat"!

            2. And my fave is the neighbourhood joint - Vietnam Noodle House at Midland and Finch. Nice, raw, huuuuuge slices of beef.. sometimes quite fatty too. Everyone says they're too HongKong/Cantonese-styled.. but hey, a good noodle is a good noodle. :P

              5 Replies
              1. re: jennjen18

                Have not tried it - is it in that Taco Bell mall? Or the mall with the Dumpling King? Thanks jennjen18.

                1. re: BokChoi

                  Sorry to but in, not Jennjen18, but yes Bokchoi, it is in that plaza but located closer to the Midland side. There is a bakery I think next door. We've been a gazillion times, since we live close by. It's not our personal favorite, but you might like it. The noodles are thicker, broth I think is strong tasting to light tasting, again, differs slightly each time. I've had problems (not allowed to post here), so we've never gone back.

                  1. re: red dragon

                    Interesting! so teh broth is a bit heavy handed at this place? jennjen18, have you had the same experience? Thanks for the headsup of the problems....

                    1. re: BokChoi

                      Viet Nam Noodle star is my first choice in Toronto. You can choose your own combos (I go with the raw beef and fish balls or tripe). The bean sprouts are fresh and crispy and they use a peppery thai basil not the sweet basil more commonly used for italian dishes. This resto blows away the chain restaurants and most of the substandard joints downtown.

                      1. re: BokChoi

                        Hey BokChoi. Yeah, the broth is very deep and rich. I find it that way ONLY when you order it with raw beef, because the beef cookes in the soup, thus releasing its essence in the soup. Alternatively, if you order, say, cooked beef, or beef balls.. just anything NOT rare beef, you'll find that your broth isn't as strong. T'is the rare beef. ;-) If like red_dragon, you've got sensitive buds, then .. perhaps it may be too strong for you... But well, try it, and if you like it, you like it. I've got some friends that love it as well, for the strong broth from the rare beef. And if you're already in the area, bonus for the short ride.

                        Oh, and I think that you can get thinner pho noodles too. I've seen other people get it, you have to specifically tell them that you want that, or else they default to the fatter noodles, which the Cantonese use as ho fun. I think I prefer their default ho fun noodle though, 'coz it is really slurpily slippery!