Song Huong, Traditional Vietnamese YYC
Posting this in response to "Where did everyone go". Meant to before, just got lazy.
Anyway, it is located out off 17SE in a tiny strip plaza near a trailer park. An honest hole-in-the-wall.
Walking in it was exactly what we were looking for, not fancy decor, plastic plants abound, and not a "round eye" in sight (I'm a "round eye", so it's ok, people)
Seemed to be only two people working there, a man out front and a woman in the back. The man brough us menus, was very pleasant, and returned a few minutes later to take our order.
We began to order, and when we did, he cautioned us that what we had ordered was "traditional", thinking that we'd be better off with something else, but in fact, that was what we wanted to hear. And it turned out he was right because when the food arrived, it was food we had not experienced before. Didn't like everything - but that's ok, the food was not bad, just not to our palate. Some however was absolutely tremendous, and that is why we will go back. Well that and the fact that this has to be the most inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant in Calgary, banh mi resto's excluded.
So, go, read the menu, then talk to the server, he will be very helpful in helping you decide what to order, and don't be afraid to order "traditional" items, you won't enjoy everything I expect unless your palate is broader than ours, and you will experience food that - at least to us - is unique in Calgary.
re: Crispier Crouton
I purposely did not discuss the dishes because I thought you'd be better informed asking questions of the server - a very helpful fellow - based on your general preferences. It was our first time there and the menu, like so many Vietnamese restaurants, is huge, as well as different from other pho-type restaurants because it has a central Vietnamese focus, so there is a lot of exploring to do.
That said, here is a review of some specific dishes by a local blogger, with pictures:
Song Huong is one of my go-to Vietnamese places for dishes that are good and different from the usual fare. I particularly like the pork and shrimp tapioca dumplings wrapped in banana leaf, the pork and shrimp dumplings served with Vietnamese ham, the Bun Bo Hue, the slices of raw beef marinated in lime juice, and the spring rolls which are different from other cha gio. From the blog posted below, I am now going to try that clam rice dish.
FYI, this restaurant is the sister of the popular Song Huong in Vancouver (I think that the owners are cousins) that serves the epic Bo 7 Mon (Beef 7 Ways). The one in Calgary doesn't serve this particular dish, though.
Do note that this place is cash only.