It’s September, and that means: BACK TO SCHOOL PHO! Well all right, not every student is back in school just yet, but no teacher’s strike is going to stop us from eating pho. In fact, we’re going to a place that even has student specials!
Pho combos and specials
It’s been a while since most of us were in school (although some of us never left). But even if we didn’t have student budgets anymore, we still had student sensibilities. Pho-od combos? Yes please! The student+senior combo came with a small bowl of pho, with a spring roll, while the Pho Combo came with a regular bowl of pho, your choice of appetizers, and a drink. It bears mentioning though, that the description for the student special on the menus themselves weren’t accurate, and even the price was different (bleh).
Following the back-to-school theme, we even had a pho pop quiz!
Despite the school-themed festivities, we were there for one reason: pho! Pho Ngan is situated on Fraser street just south of 41st, across the street from John Oliver Secondary School. The interior was cozy, with paintings of Vietnamese farm life on the walls. Despite it being a hot and sunny day, ventilation was quite good, with big windows letting in a fair amount of natural light.
Interior! Quiet at first..
Service was pretty good when we first arrived, with tea and menus being distributed quickly, but as the restaurant filled up, service suffered as it seemed that there was only one server. We eventually got our orders, although there were a few mix-ups, but the pho arrived first, then appetizers, then finally our drink orders. While tea was never refilled, there was a self-serve water cooler available – which our members liked quite a bit.
Regular pho, and student-sized pho.
The portion sizes were larger than average, but the ratio of meat was inconsistent, with lots of brisket, and very little tripe or tendon. The quality of the beef was okay, although one member remarked that the brisket tended to be on the tougher side, although the tendon was soft. The noodles, though generous in size, were a bit over done and as a result, clumped together at the bottom of the bowl. The broth wasn’t quite as hot as we’d like it, lacked depth, and was over-seasoned, which may have been due to the higher than average amount of MSG. It’s also notable that we found slices of ginger floating in some of our bowls, which was missed by their strainer.
Garnishes came with the typical beansprouts, Thai basil leaves, and limes, which, although serviceable, was a bit lacklustre and on the small side for some of our members.
The spring rolls had a crispy skin, had a good ratio of filling to skin, and was tasty over all, but it was a bit over-fried. The lemongrass chicken skewer was notably moist and tender, with good flavour.
Surprisingly, our iced coffee and tea orders came back in to-go cups already made, instead of the traditional Vietnamese drip brewers, which was disappointing. The coffee was strong, but also seemed to be on the sweet side with some off-taste with the condensed milk.
Pre-packaged vietnamese coffee
Here’s our review of the pho!
Regular: $7.00; Combo (+appetizer & drink): $9.99; Student Combo (+spring roll): $5.50
Beef: healthy portion, though inconsistent in quantity
Noodles: overcooked, clumpy
Broth: lacked depth, over-seasoned, medium-to-high MSG level
Presentation: 2 out of 4
Overall: 5 out of 10