My original review was sparked by the renovations on Portage Avenue. Since I wrote the original, the Portage Avenue Pho Hoang location has opened. So, last night I went in to check it out.
When you walk into the storefront location, one of the first things that grabs your eye is the number of seats that have been squeezed into the space. There are two short and one longish bar counters against the wall, along with tables for a couple of dozen. Given the size of the restaurant they’ve done their best to maximize the available dining space. I chose a seat at the long wall bar. People are packed in fairly close, and while it wasn’t all that full when I visited, I think the new location could get quite loud when full.
The menu appears to be much the same at the Portage Avenue location as at the original Sargent location. I ordered the Rare Beef Pho. an order of Spring Rolls, and for a beverage the Lime Juice and Tonic Water.
As you can see in the photo above. The rare beef came rare as promised. The broth is good and rich. The Spring rolls were good, crispy, and crunchy. The lime juice and tonic water, may for a pleasant accompaniment to the food. Doubling the number of locations has definitely not had any kind or adverse effect on the quality of the food. I enjoyed Kim Long, but the presence of Pho Hoang is definitely an upgrade in that location.
A few weeks ago I was wandering down Portage Avenue and noticed that the site that formerly had housed Kim Long Restaurant was soon to be the new location For Phô’ Hoàng restaurant. This got to wondering, because I like to wonder as I wander, whether or not the Pho Hoanglocation on Sargent Avenue was going to be closing.
A couple of weeks later I trundled down the road from my house to the little mall that holds the original site of the restaurant. I figured that even if they weren’t open, that I might finally get in a visit to Banh Mi Go, which has been just about to open since August of 2017.* Fortunately such is not the case with Phô Hoàng, They were certainly still open for business when I went by, and so I decided that it would make a great stop for a meal.
*They still are on the verge of opening. I don’t know what the hold up is, but I hope that it will be worth the wait.
the restaurant is relatively large, and one of the good things about it is that it has several two tops among the variety of the dark wooden table tops. It was later in the supper hour that I went, yet the restaurant was still about half full. In addition, like many restaurants, they were doing a brisk trade in Skip the Dishes orders.
I was seated right away, and once my server brought me my menu, I asked her about the new Portage Avenue location. It turns out that it is going to be a second location for the restaurant.
First Visit to Pho Hoang
With Phô in the name of the restaurant, I decided to make that part of my first order. I ordered the house special Phô which is pictured at the top of the post. The broth was rich and the meat was very well prepared. I was especially pleased to discover the rare beef was in fact fare. There as just a little sear on the outside with a good red colour in the middle of each slice. The other thing of note is that this Pho is great even when you don’t add the chili pepper.
The other part of my order was a couple of salad rolls. These were quite large, and had a good mixture of crunchy lettuce and vegetables to go along with the BBQ pork. These are really good salad rolls.
The service was good and I didn’t have to wait long for my order despite the general business of the restaurant.
Visit Number Two: Feeling Hungry
Phô Hoàng is open until 9, Sunday – Thursday, and until 10 Friday and Saturday. It’s not a late night eats place, but it is good if you are running a little late on your usual dinner time. Even though it’s fairly busy you can still also find yourself a place to sit when you stop by.
My next visit was another later evening one. I was feeling fairly hungry, but I wasn’t too sure how much I was in the mood to eat. So, I decided to start with two items from the menu. The first was an order of spring rolls from the appetizer menu, along with BBQ Beef Short Ribs on rice.
The spring rolls were good and crispy, the sort where the pastry cracks and splinters when you bite into them. they were welled filled, with a pleasant, savoury, pork filling.
The BBQ Beef Short Ribs were the single best item that I had at Phô Hoàng. The meat was falling off the bone tender and the texture was melt in your mouth when you went to chew it. The BBQ sauce was a wonderful sweet mix.
The only thing about my first two choices, was that they didn’t quite fill me up as much as I had hoped they would. So, I decided to add a third item to my meal. Going back to the appetizer portion of the menu I went with an order of Asian Chicken Wings. I also added a beverage to my meal choosing the Thai Iced Coffee.
The wings were good and the skin nice and crispy. They were also moist and well-cooked with the meat easily coming off the bone. The sauce on the other hand was somewhat bland. It could do with a little more spicing than it has. Not necessarily hotter, but a better mix of spices in the sauce. Nonetheless, they are better than most restaurant wings that I have tried.
I’ve only had Thai Iced Coffee on one other occasion. That was when I visited Sabai Thai. This one seemed to be a lot creamier than that one. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the difference. The coffee flavour in this one isn’t quite is strong. However, this version is smoother and sweeter. I think they both have their own strengths as beverages and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either one.
Once again the service was pleasant and efficient. Also, because I ordered a second time, I ended up with a longer visit, but their was no sense that I was being rushed. I was allowed to enjoy my meal at a pleasant, leisurely pace.
I don’t know how soon the Portage Avenue location will be open, but it will be worth the wait, and a good destination if you are working in the downtown area. If that doesn’t work for you, take the time to visit the location on Sargent Avenue. There is limited parking in the lot by the restaurant, but a fair bit of street parking around, along with good bus service.