Pho lovers across the country will debate for hours on what makes the perfect bowl of the beloved Vietnamese soup
By: Nicole Richie
Pho lovers across the country will debate for hours on what makes the perfect bowl of the beloved Vietnamese soup. For me, it’s all about the broth. This rich and savoury beef bone broth, made aromatic from traditional warming spices, creates a perfect harmony of flavour that is beyond comforting. A good bowl of phở bò, or beef rice noodle soup, must also have a bouncy rice noodle, loads of rare or cooked beef (or if you opt for seafood, chicken or veggies, lots of those too) and a collection of bright and crunchy garnishes like green onion, cilantro and lime, that add freshness to this deeply flavourful soup.
Most Vietnamese people will tell you pho is a breakfast food, but overseas it’s become a go-to dish for any meal at any time. Scattered across the nation, Vietnamese restaurants are open early and stay open late to make sure pho addicts can always get their fix.
UFO Restaurant 241 Niagara St. instagram.com/ufotoronto/?hl=en
This unassuming spot is tucked away on Niagara Street in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwood’s neighbourhood and opens early making it perfect for breakfast or lunch. But get your fix early because it’s closed by 3 pm on weekdays. Their House Special Pho is the highlight. The beef broth is perfectly balanced and all traditional toppings add that extra richness that will keep you going back for another bite. The House Special Juice, a mixture of carrot, beet and ginger, is a great accompaniment to any bowl of Pho on the menu.
Cafe Pho NHo 2060 Dundas St. W. phonho.ca
This corner bar and restaurant makes the best pho in the city’s west end. The giant portions are full of savoury goodness one expects when getting a bowl of this healing beef noodle soup. The noodles are the ideal texture and the brisket is super tender with just the right amount of fat. This spot is also open late and is frequented by the city’s service industry folk who are craving a beer and a hot bowl of soup after a long night on the job.
Pho Tien Thanh 57 Ossington Ave. photienthanh.wordpress.com
This is probably one of Toronto’s most well-known spots for our soupy Vietnamese treasure. There is a constant debate about whether Ossington’s Golden Turtle or Pho Tien Tieng have the better phở bò, but where Golden Turtle deserves a mention, Pho Tien Tieng takes the gold. And after earning a spot in the Toronto Michelin Guide, its broth is the one to beat. Gorgeously rich and flavoured with warm spices like anise and clove, this beefy bowl of soup is what dreams are made of.
Ha Tien 11225 30 St. SW #10, hatienrestaurant.com
Open for 10 years, this spot is a go-to when heading out for Vietnamese rice noodle soup in Calgary. Find this unassuming spot in Braeside for an array of different Vietnamese classics. The pho here is a standout due to its super flavourful, piping-hot broth. The House Special Pho features all the classic toppings, including rare and well-done beef, brisket, tripe, tendon and sliced beef balls.
Pho Dau Bo 4909 17 Ave. SE #110 phodaubovietnamese.com
This homey spot has been serving steaming bowls of pho to the Calgary community since 2008. With nods from Avenue’s Best, Star Metro Calgary’s Community Choice Awards and Best in Calgary, Pho Dau Bo is no stranger to the limelight. Its pho has been celebrated for years for good reason. With the best satay broth in the city and phở bò with rare beef sliced so thin it melts in your mouth, this spot is not one to miss.
Pho Thanh Vietnamese Noodle House 6630 4 St. NE pho-thanh-vietnamese-noodle-house.business.site
This long-time local hub is a staple in Calgary’s Vietnamese food scene. Aside from being beloved by locals, another reason to check out Pho Thanh’s Vietnamese is the super reasonable prices and massive portions. The soup comes out piping hot and is full of beefy goodness. The Pho Thanh special is not to be missed!
Bun Cha Ca Hoang Yen 5155 Victoria Dr. bunchacahoangyen.com
Local favourite, Bun Cha Ca Hoang Yen is Vancouver’s go-to spot for Vietnamese fare. The phở bò here is a staple, but its seafood- based soups or Hu Tieu (Special Rice Noodle) are really the star. From the special fish cake and vermicelli to the special crab soup, you will not be disappointed with any bowl of soup from Bun Cha Ca Hoang Yen.
Mr. Red Cafe 2131 E Hastings St. & 2680 W. Broadway mrredcafe.ca
Ask a Vancouver-based pho lover if they would wait in the line outside Mr. Red’s Hasting’s location for a hot bowl of pho, and I can guarantee they would say yes. This small spot with friendly staff and mouth-watering Vietnamese fare is not only beloved by locals but constantly packed with them too. Owners Rose Nguyen and Hong Duong (who is also the chef) are pumping out Northern Vietnamese cuisine, including their organic Bun Bo Mr Red — a Hue-style spicy beef noodle soup with assorted beef and pork that you’ll have once and crave forever.
Le Petit Saigon 2783 E Hastings St. lepetit-saigon.ca
The spicy and warming notes here hit right as this steaming bowl of pho lands on the table, making it hard not dive right in. With a great selection of options, like the special Pho Dac Biet, featuring all the classic meats cooked to perfection, along with a slew of other different combinations, Le Petit Saigon will keep you coming to try each and every one.