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Jan 19, 2010 01:51 PM

I'm jealous of your Vietnamese soup!

This is to 'that person' who's at the next table from me at Pho Hung, Golden Turtle, wherever, that has a yummier looking soup than my rare beef noodle soup...what is it?! I'm not the type to lean over and ask what number you ordered but some people are ordering a soup that has noodles, looks really spicy (not from adding sriracha, it just comes like that) and maybe it's a bit creamy too like there's a bit of coconut milk in it or something..not sure on that one. It looks mighty tasty. I've tried the special sour soup with pinapple and okra and I love that, but I'm seeing people order something else. I'm not much of a tripe person but other than that I'd love to have what you're having!

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  1. Sounds like Bun Bo Hue. Rice noodles look more round, like spaghetti and the broth has a film of oily chile-laden paste. I love the flavours of this soup, but I'm not big on the beef, which I find is often a bit tough and gristly. There is also sometimes a pork hock and some Vietnamese cha lua (ham-esque). If I could have the rare beef and brisket from regular pho, but the rest of the ingredients and flavours in the Bun Bo Hue, I'd be in heaven.

    3 Replies
      1. re: 1sweetpea

        I've asked the people at Rua Vang for Hue style pho with rare beef instead of the fatty cuts and tendon and they were happy to make the substitution.

        1. re: 1sweetpea

          Could also be canh chua, a fish soup dish. Bun Bo Hue tends to be much darker than anything w/ coconut milk in it.

          Can't think of any soup dishes using coconut milk for Viet food, it's used more in stews and desserts.

        2. Next time just ask. Be polite and ask the person who has the soup or ask one of the wait staff.


          3 Replies
          1. re: Davwud

            Absolutely. Most people are happy to respond when you tell them the meal they chose looks delicious.

            1. re: Paulustrious

              I also find that in general, people take a great deal of pride when a "Gringo" (or mangecake or whatever) shows interest in their native food.


              1. re: Davwud

                the best is when you ask for something outside of the pho range and you're told, "this one, not for you", once they were wrong and i loved it (hue style soup), once they were right and i got shredded pork skin (not crispy) with my meal....oh well....

          2. From your description it looks like Satay Sauce beef Pho. I always order it in Pho 88, but it is not on the meno on most of the Viet Restos.

            Pretty much it is just your regular rare beef Pho with tons of Satay sauce thrown in (not the Indonesian yellow kind but Sa Cha - southeast asian BBQ sauce, 'sand tea' its literal translation from Chinese), thus it looks kinds of milky sandy red and oily - certainly not very traditional, but it has such a kick I am just so addicted to it! Not sure if they usually leave it stewing for a while, since I don't think I can reproduce it by bringing my own Satay sauce!

            8 Replies
            1. re: Royaljelly

              When I find a Viet place I like, I try to work my way through many of the options on the menus. Occasionally, I come across I dish I wish I hadn't ordered, but by and large, I've been richly rewarded for being daring.

              I'm quick to ask the staff what they're eating. Quite often it's off the menu and they're happy to serve me some at a reasonable price. One time, I asked about a clear soup that had lots of greens floating in it and was told that it's Vietnamese home style cooking. They offered to make us an entire meal like that the next time we came in. We told them which day it would be and presto ... we had a lovely meal of lemongrass chicken wings, broken rice and a big bowl of clear soup with mustard greens and a bit of pork. It was great! It definitely pays to show interest and ask questions.

              1. re: 1sweetpea

                Speaking of broken rice, I'm finding it harder and harder to come across in Vietnamese restaurants. Pho Linh in the west end had broken rice, but we've since moved to the east end. Can anyone recommend a good vietnamese place that serves broken rice? Downtown or on the subway line, if possible.

                1. re: yunnage

                  Anh Dao on Spadina does...sometimes. The one time I ordered a broken rice dish I got regular rice, but others I've known have gotten the real thing. Haven't figured out yet if they were just out that day, or if I was just too Caucasian that day.

                  1. re: yunnage

                    What is "broken rice?" How is it different to regular rice?

                    1. re: jennjen18

                      Broken rice is literally rice that was broken during the harvesting and processing or so I was told on a visit to a rice company while travelling through Vietnam. Perhaps there was some info lost in translation. I think it used to be considered 'lower grade' quality, but not sure now if that's still the case. We use it a lot at home because I prefer the texture, even though my caucasian husband is the one that actually cooks the rice!

                  2. re: Royaljelly

                    I was thinking that it'd be satay pho as well. It's usually a buck or two more than the small size, and it doesn't have a sizing. It would be on the pho page in the menu as well, as one of the last specialty items.

                    1. re: jennjen18

                      I don't know why but all the pho sate I have in Toronto is VERY different from the PHo sata I'm used to in Calgary. In Toronto all the ons I've had are thick and pretty goopy. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? I'm not sure how else to describe it. In Calgary I'd have pho sate every week and the 3 times I've ordered it in Toronto I couldn't even eat it. First time I've ever in my life that I've only taken a single bite from a meal. I'd love to find the sate I'm used to, but I need to be able to understand why its different first before I can find it!

                  3. You may want to try Hu Tiu as well, which is southern (Pho Bo is northern, Hue is central). It is made with pork and shrimp (rather than a beef base), and spiced quite differently (Cambodian influence). It does not have coconut milk (not used in Vietnamese cooking, really)...