Ah, autumn. The chill in the air, the changing colours, and, what’s this? The mall isn’t packed and no more kids everywhere? That’s right, it’s back to school time! This September we decided to go to Ha Cafe to celebrate the return of the school year, and the return of the Back-to-Pho quiz!
Seeing as how so many of our members now have advanced degrees, I considered making this year’s test graduate-level, but then again, you have to walk bePHO you can run, so it’s only Pho 201.. But even though half of the questions were from last year’s Pho quiz, there was still a noticeable lack of passing grades. But what do you think this is, SFU? No bell curve here! There’s always summer school..
But back to the pho! Ha Cafe is located on Kingsway, diagonally from Crystal Mall in the Old Orchard strip mall, between a 5-pin bowling alley and a BCLC store. Although it was converted from a diner a couple of years ago, it still has links to its past with western-style soups and sandwiches on the menu, Blue Jays games on the TV, and a decidedly family-run feel.
Service was relatively quick, although tea refills became nonexistent as we progressed. We also noted the lack of the typical plate of bean sprouts, Thai basil, limes, etc… Such a mystery… (or is it? Cue mysterious music).
We started things off with an order of spring rolls. The skins were a bit on the chewier side although they didn’t quite have the crunch that we prefer. The filling was dense with a slight lack of seasoning, but otherwise unnotable.
For the pho, the noodles were on the soft side, and came with a somewhat lackluster broth that, although on the sweeter side, lacked depth and had an above-average amount of MSG. Portions were healthy, although the the meat was on the fattier side, and beef balls were not up to standards. We were also surprised to finally find the bean sprouts hidden in the bowl underneath the noodles, causing Killerpho to remark that she liked choosing the volume of bean sprouts but instead she was forced to eat a giant clump at the end. What a catastroPHOy!
Here’s our review of the pho!
One size: $8.25-8.50
Beef: healthy portion. Fattier, beef balls were sub-par.
Broth: on the sweeter side, but lacked depth.
MSG amount: above average.
Presentation: 2 out of 4.
Overall: 6.3 out of 10