montreal is not lacking in vietnamese restaurants. so why did i go all the way off the island for a bowl of pho? it seems like a long way to go for a bowl of soup and noodles, but b. said that good stuff was to be had there and i trusted him. so on a rainy sunday afternoon, we travelled across the bridge to the south shore in search of weather-appropriate food.
the one thing i seem to always crave on dreary days is pho. these bowls of soup are perfect to warm you up from head to toe. i can happily slurp up a steaming bowl at any time of the day. that is on chilly days only, of course — this isn’t exactly a meal for 30°C weather.
heading into the restaurant, i knew what i wanted: soup and rolls. we started with orders of chả giò and gỏi cuốn. the chả giò, crispy rolls filled with pork, carrots, onions, and mushrooms, came to the table big and piping hot. marked with burn spots and fry bubbles, these looked and tasted like they were made from scratch. whether they were homemade or not, they definitely did not seem like mass produced and flash frozen rolls that were thrown in hot oil before being ushered out the kitchen doors. after taking a bite of a roll wrapped in lettuce and mint leaves, i can honestly say that this is one of the better fried rolls i have ever tasted. it’s an entirely different beast from the imperial rolls that are usually served in vietnamese restaurants of our fair city. the gỏi cuốn are fresh rice paper rolls stuffed with pork, shrimp, rice vermicelli, soja beans, and vegetables. nothing spectacular here, they were like spring rolls i’ve had elsewhere. what set this appetizer apart was the side of peanut sauce. dark and sweet, this was anything but the usual commercially available, diarrhea-like peanut sauce. the peanut taste was subtle and did not overpower the fresh taste of the gỏi cuốn.
as a main, i chose phở dặc biệt, the beef special — rare beef, tripes, and beef balls. the star of all pho is the broth. this being so integral to the dish, the recipe varies from chef to chef and is usually a closely guarded secret. my palate isn’t refined enough to discern all the different ingredients, but i can say that the broth here had a bolder taste. i guess more star anise as opposed to a lighter broth where lemongrass is the predominant flavour. i can’t tell you what it is that gives this soup a deeper flavour and i am fairly certain that it will impossible to get that information from the chef. all pho options are available in three sizes: small, medium, and large. they come with a side plate of garnishes including basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and hot peppers. my beef special was different, as i am used to a lighter broth, but it was good. i only wish that the beef was more bloody when it came out of the kitchen. i like watching it cook in the soup in front of my eyes…
b. opted for the bún bò huế, a spicy lemongrass soup with pieces of beef, pork shanks, and broad rice noodles. i only had a taste of it and all i can say is that it was spicy! since i only had one mouthful, i can’t really comment beyond that. a better description is locked away in the recesses of b.’s mind.
as a side note, the restaurant is byob (bring your own bottle) and msg-free.
7209, boul. taschereau
sun, tue, wed 11h30-21h
thu, fri, sat 11h30-22h