Phô No 1 Vietnamese – 81 Isabel Street

Phô No 1 is a Vietnamese restaurant on Isabel Street just off of McDermott Avenue. It’s one of those places that I have heard many good things about. I’ve also walked by it many times on my way to and from the Exchange District, Yet, for one reason or another, I’ve never stopped in.

Pho No 1, rare beef, beef, and tripe Pho
A rich and satisfying Phô No 1 Takeout Lunch.

The other day I found myself wandering through the Exchange District. Then I headed westward, wondering where to stop for lunch. As I was going down Bannatyne, I got to the corner of Isabel, and as I turned the corner, I realized that Phô No 1 was just a block away. I decided to see if they were open and they were. 

Of course the dine-in experience is shut down to Covid-19, but as I waited to place my order I took a quick look around. The dining area is divided into two sections each of which look to hold about two dozen people. The seating looks comfortable, and one day I hope to dine in.

Phô No 1 Takeout Lunch

For my order, I went with the Rare Beef, Well-done Flank, and Tripe Phô. I also chose two appetizers. The Spring Rolls, and the Deep-Fried Chicken Wings. As I had walked in off the street, I was told that my order would be ready in 20-25 minutes. I decided to walk around the streets for a little bit. I noticed that Dino’s Market is now on Isabel, but as they were limiting the number of customers in the store I decided to not pay a visit.

Crispy wings from Phô No 1
I liked the meatiness of the Phô No 1 crispy wings. I also like the dipping sauce (not pictured).

Spring rolls
Meaty and crunchy spring rolls.

As the pictures above indicate that’s a big lunch. Even though I had done quite a bit of walking that day, I still left most of the spring rolls for an evening treat. All three of the dishes are delicious. The crispy wings maintained most of their crisp even after a fairly lengthy walk home. The sweet and spicy dipping sauce has a good balance of heat and sweet. The Spring rolls are crunchy with a tasty, and meaty filling. 

Given the restaurant’s name, it’s not surprising that the Phô is the best dish of the group. For one thing it’s really a dish made for two. I took the biggest bowl I have, and that only held the broth and about a third of the noodles, etc. The broth itself is really rich, even before I added any of the hot sauce mixture. Overall this is a really satisfying Phô

Game Day Dinner

Yesterday marked the first day of the second round of the North Division NHL playoffs. My beloved Canadiens de Montreal against the Winnipeg Jets(my hometown team). I figured this would be a good time to order in from Phô No 1. I ordered in advance, to make sure the food was hear close to game start.

Bun
My three Char-broiled beef served with rice paper and vegetables

Knowing I would burn a lot of nervous energy throughout the game, I ordered Char Broiled Beef with Rice paper, and the Char Broiled Beef Bûn (vermicelli). I only had the two dishes, but I also ordered a Jack Fruit Bubble Tea.

I’m not sure if I read the menu wrong or not, but it looked liked the Char-Broil Beef with rice paper is designed to be form your own spring roll. Whatever the reason, they came wrapped in cling film, which seemed to make the rice paper very hard to roll, I had to use a fork to eat most of the ingredients. However, that was a small roadblock as the taste of the rolls is fantastic, as is the dipping sauce.

Bûn from Phô No 1
A hearty Bûn meal from Phô No 1.

I just realized as I am writing this that I also ordered a Char-Broiled Bahn-Mi sandwich that I don’t have a picture of. All three items that I order very tasty. I particularly like the Char-Broiled Beef, as it moist with a good little bit of chewiness to it. All of the dishes make for substantial portions.

Jack Fruit Bubble tea
An enjoyable and refreshing Jackfruit Bubble Tea from Phô No 1.

Normally, the Jackfruit Bubble Tea would be the last part of the meal when I order this amount of food, but tonight I finished it off right after the Bahn Mi. This is a very refreshing Bubble Tea. I also really appreciate the paper straw which is a little wider than the plastic ones, and makes it easier to enjoy the tapioca balls.

Phô No 1 Summary

Phô No 1 is definitely worth multiple visits. The food is excellent. You get great value. One thing I liked, was that on my first visit, when I just dropped in, I was told 20-25 minutes and it easily met that time frame. Plus, when I returned, they not only had my order ready, but new which one was mine. 

Now, if Les Canadiens can only deliver the same kind of play as they showed tonight. That would be really tasty.

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