Restaurant Review: Pho An

Craving some Vietnamese food tonight, I wanted to try one of several new Vietnamese restaurants opened along Kingsway between Victoria Drive and Knight Street. I noticed Pho An awhile ago with a “Grand Opening” sign but did not dare go by myself as that area didn’t seem like the safest considering the recent shootings around the area.

For dinner my bf and I went to try Pho An, which is located at 1707 Kingsway. A fairly large restaurant with ample room, this place opens 11am – midnight most nights, closing at 4am on Friday/Saturday nights for those wanting some late night pho after clubbing.

Since we went at 5:30pm, the restaurant was empty except for us. Now most people would see that as a bad sign – empty tables usually meant the place wasn’t very good. However, we were gutsy enough to want to try. Upon entrance, we were greeted warmly by the female hostess, most likely an owner of the restaurant, and taken to our seats with menus. Tea was available right away for us and the hostess came back within a couple minutes to ask for an order.

One item that caught my eye that I wanted to try was the carrot and beef brisket stew. The side option was either with noodles or bread. I’ve had Vietnamese beef stew before and nothing tastes better than a side of fresh baked French bread. I was hungry enough to also want to try their Salad Roll, which consisted of a rice wrapping, inside wrapped with vermicilli noodles, bean sprouts, lettuce, and prawns – served with a peanut sauce. My bf ordered a pho for “Adventurous” eaters, which consisted of fatty beef tendon, slices of steak meat, fatty flank, and tripe.

Adventurer’s pho – Large bowl – $6.95

The pho’s meat was fresh and nicely cut and cooked. The noodles were thin rice noodles but the texture was not soggy. The beef soup was light, however there was a hint of MSG in it that I did not prefer. On a cold day, this bowl of soup was a good welcome.

Carrot & beef brisket stew with bread – Small – $6.80
The stew was nicely seasoned with spices I could not recognize, however the flavour was absorbed into the large chunks of brisket. The fresh toasted French bread was delicious! Definitely would recommend the bread, which I could’ve eaten without the stew. I used the bread to dip into the stew otherwise the stew on itself would be a bit salty. The only issue I had with the brisket that it might have been better to stew it longer so that the meat was softer.
Salad Roll with Peanut Sauce – $2.50 each
The only gripe about this restaurant was that even though it was not busy, we were the only customers, they forgot our order of the salad roll, which usually comes out before the main dishes. I reminded the hostess, who then came out with the salad roll shortly after. Well worth the wait, this salad roll had a very thin rice wrapping, which allowed for more fillings. The peanut sauce was authentic, with peanut texture throughout the sauce. I left no sauce by the end of the roll.
The fact that we had the restaurant to ourselves was a nice touch for the evening, although I hope that more people will try this restaurant. They are next to another Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Ga, which I hope to visit and compare as well.
Pho An on Urbanspoon 

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