Vietnam Palace

Posted on 2006-04-13 12:30

The first impression was a great one. The decor, paintings and atmosphere were all very welcoming. The place was fairly busy - always a good sign. It appeared we might not get a table for 5, but the host took down a “reserved” sign at one of the largest tables, and seated us.

By now, we can order by number from almost any Pho menu on Somerset without looking. Here, we all curiously read every page - wondering… do they have Pho? Near the back, eureka! There was a selection of various types of Pho. We were all fairly safe, ordering our “usual”. Except for JJ, he took a leap of faith and ordered a specific regional dish. More on that later.

The waiteress brings water for everyone. Nice touch. We take in the Vietnamese decor and glance at other tables to see what the “regulars” are eating. The waiteress comes back to take our order. We are used to writing down our own menu selection, by number of course. Not here. She asks in no particular order, for our meal selection. Without a pad or pen, she quietly listens to all of our questions and choices. We all order Pho - selection of egg and rice noodles, beef, porc, shrimp, vermicelli and this “regional” dish (I forget the name). With also order some vegetarian spring rolls. Then, just as every waiteress likes to hear, last minute changes. She doesn’t blink - but we wonder if this was too much to ask for.

We wait… Then, our spring rolls arrive. The whole table marvels at the size of the carrot juice bowl. It’s huge! We all stare in amazement at how anyone would need such a large bowl for dipping a spring roll. It becomes clear when we each take a sample from the main dish and pour into our own dish. Finally, double-dipping will not be frowned upon! The usual side veggies make for good wraps for the rolls. In particular, the minty leaves. They were good, but not spectacular. I then taste the hot sauce and wonder if it’s been diluted - whoa! NOT! After a few deep breathes, I take note not to over do it with the Pho. My neighbour, a fan of hot food, takes some of the chili sauces and pours some into his Pho - without even a taste.

This time, I did not fill my soup with the usual veggies and squirt of lime, I choose to taste the soup as-is, with some hot sauce (not too much) and some hoisin sauce. My soup had egg noodles, porc and fresh shrimp. By far, the shrimps were the best part of the soup. The noodles tasted a bit off but the broth was very good. I tell myself, and ask my colleagues to remind, next time - try the vermicelli (dry Pho). The last impression came with the menu fully written in Vietnamese. No ordering by numbers here!

Oh yeah, the regional dish - it makes your lips green :-)

by Michel Devost


Cushioned chairs - how

Cushioned chairs - how divine! This was definitely not your run of the mill Pho restaurant. Atmosphere-a-plenty to take in and enjoy. And the waitress was attentive and courteous.

They only seemed to have vegetarian spring rolls. I'd prefer meat of some sort - pork or shrimp, but we ordered them anyways, and I was surprised at how tasty they were even without some sort of meat inside. They were good quality spring rolls.

I ordered the seafood w/ egg noodles. The broth was excellent - tasty without being too overpowering. The large, vegetable green leaf tasted out of the garden fresh. The only criticism I would say was they didn't provide much in terms of bean sprouts to add to my Pho. In the end, I even commented to the waitress that the meal was excellent, and I don't usually do this.

Rating: 9


The Vietnam palace provides a

The Vietnam palace provides a cozy atmosphere that feels slightly more upscale than your traditional Pho establishment. If you're unfamiliar with the typical Pho establishment they are usually light on atmosphere. As with most Vietnamese restaurants located in Ottawa it is crawling distance from the downtown core.

As a connoisseur of Vermicelli I ordered the grilled pork on Vermicelli and crushed peanuts. The first thing I noticed was that I couldn't count the pieces of pork in my Vermicelli which is usually a good sign that they are not cheeping out on the ingredients. If you can count the shrimp, pork or beef pieces in the bowl the chances are your getting jiped. The pork was warm, the noodles were cold and cucumbers were plenty. The pork was especially tasty as though it had been marinated for hours and grilled on a BBQ. Great Vermicelli must be accompanied with the right amount of fish sauce. Having too little fish sauce is the equivalent of not having enough spaghetti sauce for your spaghetti. To my surprise, the fish sauce bowl was so large it could have qualified as a small bowl of Pho. The waitress was reasonably attentive but not so much so that she was annoying. I was rather impressed that she took our order without writing a thing down and got everything right. The only minor downside to my lunch was paying the bill (the case with any place) which was only slightly higher than other Vietnamese restaurants in the same area.

Overall, the Vietnamese palace does a fine job at preparing Vermicelli. I will be returning real soon to try their Pho.

Serge Boulay