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YEG Pho

I see two YYC threads on this topic but none on YEG. I have let my view be known in another thread that of the places I tried, TauBay is the best in town with one caveat, their beefballs are not very good :(.

Just curious if others have different suggestions... hehe, especially good Pho with Beefballs. (Despite the temptation, no Beefball jokes please, lol).

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  1. Previous threads on this topic can be boiled down to: some think King Noodle (Pho Hoang) is the best , some like Tau Bay best and many also rans.

    I am not aware of any new Vietnamese restaurants of note lately . I am in the King Noodle camp, but we often eat at the Ninh Kieu for their more extensive menu.

    I look forward to new contenders

    1. agreed with Felix. Here's a link to a previous thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/523220

      I like the depth of the regular broth at King's and for bun bo hue (spicy) I like Pagolac.

      Haven't tried Tau Bay because their hours are wonky.

      11 Replies
      1. re: foodkarma

        never been to king noodle, will have to try..
        Tau Bay's pho is the best i've tried anywhere in canada (and i've eaten pho extensively in van,toronto, calgary), and according to my palate, only is pho best done in edmonton in canada, everything else (ie,.italian, thai, sushi, indian, etc.) is done better elsewhere
        they are so good (and henceforth successful), that they close down the restaurant weeks at a time for vacation,,,

        1. re: foodkarma

          foodkarma, you need to visit this site: http://istaubayopen.com/

          In the north end, I've found that Co Do Hue's pho is pretty decent. There are a bunch more that have opened up all over the northside but I haven't had a chance to test them all out yet.

          Pho Hoan Pasteur on Kingsway also decent.

          1. re: anonymoose

            Thanks! We did see that site and got a good laugh... thinking of it more as a joke than a useful tool. Is it fairly accurate?

            1. re: foodkarma

              Yes it's fairly accurate. A local blogger runs it.

              1. re: anonymoose

                We finally visited Tau Bay this weekend.... it was open (yay)! I can understand the hype - the broth is very good. Saw the older man at the table next to ours pick up his bowl and drink up all the broth. There's a natural sweetness about it. I do think their business model of just pho is a smart one, high turnover and lower operational costs.

                Haven't decided if I like it better than King Noodle (Pho Hoang). Will have to visit them closer together (maybe a pho weekend) to make a decision.

                1. re: foodkarma

                  Foodkarma,

                  Pho Weekend is exactly what I did, I went to TauBay for Lunch and King Noodle for dinner. Both time, ordered the Pho Chin Ve Don (sorry, not Vietnamese but it is Pho with Well Done Brisket and Crunchy Frank Bits).

                  My personal assessment:
                  - Broth - pretty close to a tie, tough call.
                  - Meat - Tau Bay wins, more generous with the portion (large bowl) and the Ve Don there is better, sorry King, two pieces of Ve Don in a large bowl of Pho is not good enough and Ve Don needs to be crunchy...
                  - Noodle - Can't really tell if there is a quality difference but King was definitely more generous with the portions (large v. large)
                  - The "Greens" - King wins here, better selection of herbs with two different type of fresh chilie peppers.
                  - The Condiments - TauBay wins here, King has the standard red hot sauce, chili paste and hoisin sauce. TauBay offers the same plus something they call "Satay", no idea what's really in it but it taste like a mixture of chili, shallots, onions, garlic etc. very aromatic and adds a lot to the pho. To be honest, not even sure if it is Vietnamese as I have never seen it when I lived in Asia.

                  Final verdict, the better meat and "Satay" wins it for Tau Bay.

                  PS: if anyone can tell me exactly what is that Satay stuff Tau Bay offers, please let me know. Oh wait... do I really want to know?

                  1. re: Fergie007

                    Wow! Thanks for the in-depth review and I like your different ratings. I guess it really does come down to personal tastes and needs for pho. I like a slightly chewier noodle and more tendon (firmer in texture). I also usually prefer lime over lemon on my pho... those are the details I'll have to evaluate and report back here.

                    Definitely agreed Tau Bay offered more meat and condiments seemed more abundant.

                    Sate sauce is usually made up of Peanut oil/peanut sauce, shallots, garlic, ginger, chilies, soy sauce, sugar, and maybe coconut milk/kaffir lime leaves. I believe it originates from Indonesia/Malaysia but is now used in cuisine all over SE Asia - Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, etc. For example, Sate Chicken Skewers.

                    I do like a good bowl of Sate Beef Pho... rich creamy broth with rare beef and noodles. Yum! You can do a search for that on chowhound, I have seen several threads on where the best sate pho is. I like my sate pho rich, garlicky, creamy, not too sweet. Pagolac in Edm and Noodle King in Calgary suit my taste.

                    1. re: Fergie007

                      So I moved to YEG about 2 months ago and finally got a weekend to do this Pho comparison... the highlights:

                      BROTH: Tau Bay had more of that sweet meaty depth (umami)
                      NOODLES: I prefer the noodle texture at King's - chewier bite
                      MEAT: agreed with Fergie, more meat at Tau Bay plus I got more tendon
                      HERBS/SPROUTS: Tau Bay as I prefer lime and red pepper
                      VALUE: Tau Bay - they gave me more meat plus what was left in the can for my lemon soda

                      Here's a link to my full post: I blogged about it here: http://foodkarma.ca/2011/07/11/battle...

                      Too bad Tau Bay is now closed until end of Aug.

              2. re: anonymoose

                The food at Pho Hoan Pasteur is decent, but there is a fast food/assembly line feel to the place.

                1. re: felix the hound

                  I get that assembly feel at most places. :)

                2. re: anonymoose

                  Just wanted to add that Co Do Hue's has better Bun Bo Hue than Pho... It is a big serving.
                  Thai Binh serves Bun Bo Hue soups only on Fridays and weekends, freshness ensues. Pho there is also decent.
                  I am also in the King's Noodle camp.

              3. A friend took me to Rice Paper in the west end today, nestled between Stony Plain Road East and West, on the west side of 178 st in a stand alone building.

                It's been open about 9 months, run by the original owners of "Thanh Thanh Oriental Noodle House" on 101 and 107th Ave.

                Their pho was good, and you can order it three ways - North/Central/South Vietnamese style. Also, their satay sticks were excellent.

                Also around that area is La Pagode, 1 block North of WEM in the same strip mall housing the McD's and Boston Pizza.

                Hoang Long had poor service and their Pho wasn't the least authentic. Wouldn't go back there.

                7 Replies
                1. re: taiphun

                  Taiphun,

                  My recollection is that many years ago the "Thanh Thanh Oriental Noodle House" on 101 street was very good but more recently it appears to have been dumbed down into westernized Vietnamese style "oriental" food. I am not sure whether it is because my appreciation for Vietnamese food has changed or they have changed? Can you please elaborate on your "original owners" statement?

                  PS La Pagode has decent vermicelli bowls and soups. The early Pagolac connection is evident in its menu, but the place feels cleaner and brighter . Prices are also higher.

                  1. re: felix the hound

                    Felix,
                    Ha.. I see you've been bitten by Chowhound's "smarts" too. Remove that Red Deer link, it's not relevant.

                    After our meal which both my friend and I thought was delicious, we asked if they had another operation elsewhere, and our waiter replied that the owners and kitchen people were originally those that owned Thanh Thanh downtown.

                    I, too, had the same thoughts as you do about Thanh Thanh's, we stopped going there years ago. Whenever we're downtown craving Pho, our stop is Trang Tien across from ex-Mirama. Good broth, good noodles, and great meat balls.

                    Hope that helps.

                    1. re: taiphun

                      Link removed.

                      I guess I'll have to try the Rice Paper to see if I can detect the "original" Thanh Thanh spirit.

                      1. re: felix the hound

                        Was there for lunch recently. I had salad rolls which were ok in terms of shrimp but had no mint leaves and were rather flaccid. The sauce tasted too much like plain peanut butter.

                        The vermicelli bowl with grilled lemongrass chicken was one of the best ones Ive had in Edmonton, the portion was reasonable, the chicken was moist and well spiced, it had enough shredded carrots and lettuce, and the added spring rolls were delicate and tasty. The side sauce could have been a little more robust , as it did not seem to have sufficient fish sauce , garlic or pickled carrots.

                        Unfortunately they only tea available is made with the perfunctory jasmin tea bag .

                        Service was attentive and cordial. I will likely go back and try a few more items, although the prices seem a bit higher than most other vietnamese places in the city. But then most vietnamese places do not have this type of decor, plates, and "cuttlery". I guess that is what they mean by "Fine" on their menu But i find their lacquered reusable chopstics a bit more difficult to use on vermicelli wet with fish sauce than the regular disposable ones.

                      2. re: taiphun

                        Did someone say "great meat balls"?

                        1. re: taiphun

                          While we are on the topic of Pho... I just wanted to mention I have kind of been in denial. I have noticed a decline in the quality and taste at Tau Bay, especially in their home made hot sauce... Has anyone else noticed this over the last year? I heard that there are now new owners?

                          Maybe I am crazy tho....

                          1. re: kati3

                            The owner did not change, it is the same mother/daughter/son team who work the till but they have added a few new servers. I think I have gained the "regular" status for eating there (and King's :-)) at least once every week, last time I walked in and the waitress already had my order circled.

                            I was a little disappointed with TauBay a couple weeks ago, the broth was not as flavorful as before and the meatballs were chewy and flavorless. This week, the broth was back to normal, I think it is a matter of inconsistency.

                            They did however increase the price and I am not a fan of the $1 surcharge for takeouts... most places give you a discount for takeouts (presumably for not taking up a spot in their dinning room), TauBay actually charge you extras. The portions are noticably smaller than King's portions now.

                    2. Downtown workers have a new Pho place in Scotia Place. "Good Pho You" has opened up next to Amy's "Chicken for Lunch" down in their food court.

                      I had my doubts about Vietnamese fast food restaurants, but after my sister touted their MSG-free soups I had to give it a try. Yesterday I had a delux pho (8.50), today their vermicelli (8.50) with satay beef, lemongrass chicken, and 2 deep fried spring rolls. Both were filling, the soup was clear, hot, and tasty.

                      Also make sure you get their garlic hot sauce, it adds a nice touch of spicyness.

                      They also do banh-mi (subs) for around 5.50.

                      1. I dropped by TauBay for a Pho fix after work, I can't believe that they are closed again. :( One more thing that I hate about King's is parking during rush hour when you cannot park on the road. Their parking lot has potholes that can swallow my car up alive.

                        4 Replies
                          1. re: Fergie007

                            I used to eat at Tau Bay at least once a week until I finally found a decent alternative. I got tired of the crappy hours (Mon-Thur open til 630pm? wtf???) the two month long vacations, and the inconvenience of cash as the only method of payment.

                            I found that ninh kieu's broth is about 90-95% as good as tau bay but they are more generous with the amount of noodles and meat. And if you want more basil, sprouts or limes they will do it without charging extra unlike tau bay. They have a nice selection of sizes (XL is perfect for me) and the service is great especially the short smiley lady. They are also open at reasonable hours and accept credit and debit cards.

                            I think i might need to try king noodle again since people are generally positive about it. I had it a few times and thought it was average to above average but it's been a while by gar.

                            1. re: buster3535

                              Hmmm I think I am gong to have to give Ninh Kieu's Pho another try -- sounds like the new management is doing a good job. I also appreciate the full page of vegetarian menu items they now offer.

                              1. re: kati3

                                I think the current Ninh Kieu is underrated. The quality of the ingredients is always good and there is a good variety of items on the menu which are well executed.
                                And it is owner operated, which is always a plus. The owner/cook used to be sous chef at The Dish ( and the runaway spoon)

                          2. Recent find (shhhh, don't tell *everyone*) -

                            Quan Pho on 107 Ave just W of 100 Street.

                            Have done the back to back comparisons (5 lunch hours, 5 pho joints) with a panel of willing participants and the new, go-to pho joint in Edmonton is this one. Have driven up here even from the south side when the pho lust strikes.

                            Building looks like it should have been knocked down several tenants ago, toilets down the hall and around the corner by the furnace and electrical (avoid).

                            Free parking in front (midst all the whizzing traffic) if it's too far from your office, free parking in the rear if you can navigate the hopeless maze of alley vs random acts of parking, and where else other than 107ave can you pick up your hip hop clothing needs after watching the homeless parade by the window, all the while enjoying the best soup I have found yet?

                            All part of the charm. Cash only, not open Tuesdays.

                            Small well executed menu. Anything soup related has been great, including the Hue.
                            Beef balls as well....

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: DBSinYEG

                              Out of curiosity, what were the other four pho joints that you tried? I'm assuming you shared a bowl at each place cause I wouldn't be able to do more than two bowls on a good day.

                              1. re: buster3535

                                Should be more descriptive in my timing...

                                There's a standard group of participants, eating pho about 2-3 times per week at rotating venues.

                                We hit Pagolac, Pho Hoa, Pho Hoang (King Noodle), Tau Bay and Quan Pho. Sometimes Golden Bird too, but their soup isn't really the feature.

                                Each have features and benefits that appeal to different people for different reasons, but the mainstay has become Quan Pho for all "liquid" lunches.

                            2. You should try Mama Pizza! They're located at 10531 107 Ave. Their name sounds deceiving, they sell Vietnamese meals and pizza! Also, they just recently renovated, looks pretty nice inside. Give it a shot! their number is (780)422-6262 ‎

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: edible art

                                Whoa, pho at a pizza joint, lol. Will have to try it just because...

                                Tried the new (new to me anyway) Pho Hoa in St. Albert, it is edible in a pinch. Service was so so as there seems to be only one English speaking waitress, the rest of the crew sort of just grunts. The portions were questionably small, my large came in a huge bowl that is only half filled. The actual amount of food is smaller than a medium at TauBay or King's. The soup was ok but you get minimal meat, a small pinch of bean sprouts, a small sprag of basil. The most disappointing thing was the soft lifeless Ve Don; omg, it is called "crunchy frank bits" for a reason.

                                I was still hungry after eating a large there for dinner. But, not a whole lot of choices up in that part of town so if you happens to be in that part of town.

                                1. re: Fergie007

                                  I've been to that Pho Hoa too, and you can really tell that it's a chain. No love in the food at all. Their pho had the most fast food/assembly feel that I've ever had at any place in Edmonton. You'd be much better off driving into Castledowns and going to Co Do Hue.

                                  1. re: Fergie007

                                    Pho Hoa broth is made from powdered stock and not from chicken/beef bones. How much was a large bowl? If it was cheap, then it's not a big deal, but if they are charging the same prices as the good places (ninh kieu, tau bay) then that is shameful.

                                    1. re: buster3535

                                      My memory is hazy but I'm pretty sure they charged more than Ninh Kieu and Tau Bay.

                                      1. re: buster3535

                                        4 of us, 4 larges was $38.xx, $44 including tips. I would say more than what TauBay charges. Hehe, the only good thing is that they have the cleanest bathrooms of all pho joints.