Pho Bo

Posted on 2005-07-08 13:25

Somerset St. W, between Breezehill and Bayswater
Map (approximate; address not accurate)

This restaurant has been renamed to New Pho Bo

This is a smallish place “over the bridge” as we say, across from a large Asian grocery store before Bayswater. It’s fairly easy to find street parking, as it doesn’t seem particularly busy - at least during lunch hour.

Their menu has the usual selection of beef soups, and a whole section of soups in seafood broth. There are a few selections featuring BBQ pork and/or shrimp, some with rice and a few with egg noodles, and a couple with sate broth; however these were only under the seafood section. The usual appetizers are there, as well as a selection of shakes, bubble teas, and coffees.

Soup prices are standard, with small from $4.75 to large $6.75. There is also one soup which has “everything in it” for $7.50.


The overused green themed

The overused green themed decor was off putting as we entered the restaurant, although the Muzak was pleasantly soothing. The menus appeared to be printed with a basic laser printer in the backroom years ago. They didn't even bother with laminating the menus to prevent encrusted food stains and other unknown substances that have accumulated over time.

I tried the beef and shrimp in a seafood broth sate. I usually go for the sate for the spiciness. The seafood broth definitely had a unique flavour and a different kind of bite than the usual beef broth. I think I prefer the beef broth. The shrimps in the soup were entirely deshelled which was pleasant, so I didn't have to bother with spitting out the tails. The egg noodles, however, were in one big mess and it was difficult to separate in order to eat in manageable bites.

The spring rolls had a unique taste over other restaurants I have visited. The shrimp rolls were long and narrow, but it was mostly crust with not enough shrimp stuffing. The pork rolls were oversized, but it was mostly stuffed with vegatables which overpowered the pork. The dipping sauce had a flakes of peppers dashed in to give it a unique tang which I didn't particularly enjoy.

Overall, I felt the restaurant failed in its attempt to be unique and bold with their offerings.

Rating: 6.5


Although the service was fast

Although the service was fast and friendly, I have mixed feelings about the food. I had the basic lean, rare beef slices in the beef broth with rice noodles. The onions and other leafy items in the soup looked old and somewhat wilted.

The broth was subtle and it took me until the last part of the meal to figure out that I liked it. It was a relatively clear broth, with little or no fat floating on top. This is how I like it. It just took me a while to appreciate the taste.

But, and this is a big but, the sliced beef was *tough*. The reason that I order the rare or medium-rare beef in the soup is to ensure that is is not cooked much and is therefore tender. Not so here.

I also had bubble tea. Mine was durian flavour. This was my second choice as they had run out of what I asked for first.

It looked and tasted more like a shake, possibly with coconut milk, but maybe not. It certainly didn't taste like tea. Maybe it's just me. The only other time I had bubble tea (at a different place) it didn't taste like tea either. But the durian flavour was very good. Not overpowering as it can sometimes be. Not even very strong. Just a nice flavour that went nice at the end of the meal.

Rating: 7. Marks off for the old vegetables and the tough beef.


So we finally got "over the

So we finally got "over the bridge" to Pho Bo. It was surprisingly empty for lunchhour, but last time I was here it was also empty. Was very bright through a blindless window where we were sitting, but it wasn't a hot day so it was OK. The place was clean enough, although the decor could use a bit of help - the walls had a "technique" applied (by a 5 year old by the looks of it) which looked, well, not so good.

Service was fairly prompt, and the spring rolls we ordered came out fairly quickly. The dipping sauce was the usual fish-sauce based variety, but had a different taste to it - a bit spicier, but not hot. The rolls themselves were, again, different. The pork ones were quite large, and had lots of veggies in them including mushrooms. Not bad, but not to my taste. The shrimp rolls had a definite shrimp flavour, but it was almost like a paste, and there was not enough shrimp compared to batter.

Now for the soup. I ordered a small, since you never know from one Pho place to another if it will be too much or too little. In this case, the small was too small. There was enough broth, but the noodles were underrepresented. The beef was supposed to be rare, and was in fact well done, but it was OK. The broth itself was quite clear, and to my taste a bit on the bland side - although at least it wasn't too garlicky, as is often the case.

They also had bubble tea, which is a bit unsual for a pho place. They often have shakes, true, but not often bubble tea. So of course I ordered a Leechee flavoured one. It came at the end as a dessert, and looked and tasted like a Leechee shake. Instead of clear, it was thick and white, very creamy and sweet with lots of "bubbles". It came in a funky summer plastic glass with the usual big straw.

Next time I will try something closer to my fav: a medium with pork and shrimp w/ egg and rice noodles (although here it would be in seafood broth and I didn't see any soups with the combination of noodles), and see if that tickles my fancy any better.

Rating: 7.5 (bonus marks for having bubble tea)