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Restaurants

Pho Phuong Fine Vietnamese Cuisine

Posted by Vanessa / Reviewed on October 10, 2007 / review policy

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The rich, spicy and refreshing flavours of pho make it the gateway dish for Vietnamese cuisine, but don't let it stop there. Many of the Vietnamese restaurants scattered throughout the city focus on the well-loved broth but few dare to venture beyond the typical like Pho Phuong.

After selecting the table of our choice in the slick renovated room, we scan the menu and pick a few favourites. Tucked into the appetizer section are some fantastic breakfast items and an elusive duck noodle soup can be found further in. Once we mark down our order, we're in for a short wait with utensils and bowls of sauces arriving in the meantime.

Expertly wrapped fresh rolls filled with jicama, dried shrimp, egg, herbs, and the usual crunchy vegetables are the first items to reach our table. The balance of rich, salty, sweet and herbaceous is a delicious start to the meal. An accompanying hoisin-based dipping sauce tends to mask the various flavours and we almost prefer it without any adornment.

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The server makes space for an enormous plate that holds the House Broken Rice. Fanned out over a pile of soft rice is a juicy pork chop, shredded pork, crab omelet, crispy shrimp tofu packet, pickled cabbage and carrots, and perfectly fried sunny side up egg. Bursting the supple yolk and pouring all the sweet and spicy sauce overtop offers a dish full of richness and tang. The crab omelet is more like a silky pork meatloaf studded with fake crab and vermicelli encased in a thin egg exterior. The crispy shrimp tofu packet is a perfect play in texture contrast.

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Even though I might consider pho ubiquitous, we've ordered an extra large House Pho for its comforting qualities. A basin of spicy and rich broth drowns the rare beef and it arrives cooked. At least there is ample protein available and the tendon is tender. This soup is easily my favourite as it seems watered down at many other downtown restaurants.

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Our last dish arrives as we're nearly full but the crispy pancake is always worth the wait. A crisp shell of coconut milk and mung bean grips several perfectly cooked shrimps and pieces of pork with fresh bean sprouts spilling out from the fold. Tearing away some pancake, rolling it into a piece of lettuce, tucking in a few herb leaves, and dipping it into some sauce exemplifies the Vietnamese masterfulness in handling a multitude of flavours. The shrimp "tarts" are nearly replicas of the pancake in a more tender form and are full of coconut and mung bean flavour. A darker "muffin" style shrimp cake is milder and uses red beans to a drier effect.

Praise may be overflowing when it comes to Pho Phuong, but it is all deserved. Although a little stale bread may sometimes arrive with a dish, more than likely nearly a whole star fruit will appear in the steak salad, the Thai curry will have never been infused with as much lemongrass, and Vietnamese food in all other restaurants will pale in comparison.

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Discussion

16 Comments

Tanja / October 11, 2007 at 09:53 pm
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Mmmmm. Ate there recently and it was fantastic. Ordered my usual Viet Bun dish and it was great... one of the best.
vanessa / October 12, 2007 at 10:48 am
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The bun dishes are quite good too. I find it very difficult to order at this restaurant because I just want everything. It is, by far, my favourite restaurant in the city because it is not only great, but seems to get better with each consecutive visit.
Dan / October 16, 2007 at 12:06 pm
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I really have to expand my pallette when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, but everytime I go I find it impossible to get anything but pho. It's just that damn tasty... However the crispy pancakes looks like a definite contender to share table space with my bowl of pho.
Debbie Ohi / October 16, 2007 at 12:06 pm
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Fantastic pics and great review, Vanessa. Mmmm, time for lunch...
Jerrold / October 16, 2007 at 12:25 pm
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I had the shrimp curry there and it was *really* good (although it could have used a bit more veg). The sauce took me back to Vietnam.
Carsten Nielsen / May 23, 2008 at 12:31 am
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This is my favorite Pho joint, they have great spring rolls, I really enjoy the vermicelli dishes, and the pancake is super-great!
eatlivetravelwrite / September 17, 2009 at 02:25 pm
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We loved this place too! You can read about it here on my blog:
http://tiny.cc/pwBF4
Dyna / December 26, 2009 at 07:35 pm
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I used to live just around the corner of this place, and I would visit here as much as I could.

Fantastic food. Service was always a little iffy at times, but I don't blame them, it gets VERY hectic at times.

Great food!! I would recommend to everyone!!
Kelly / November 24, 2010 at 03:20 pm
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ok, so i go religiously go to this place and this dishes i would like to try next time, but the menu seems all the same for me and i always get the same thing everytime.
can anyone tell me the names of all these dishes?
Tracy Walton / May 21, 2011 at 02:56 pm
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There is a fly on your food in the crispy pancake picture. lol
sonya / May 23, 2011 at 01:37 pm
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I used to love coming here..but the last time I was there was in January and found a thick black straight hair in my Pho...Along with giant pieces of cartiledge. When I asked for a new soup she told me it couldn't possibly be theirs....ummmm??? My hair is extremely curly and this was obviously not mine...they took it back and gave me another but she was not very happy about it...fine dining it is not...I can't bring myself to go back anymore...
Kenny replying to a comment from sonya / July 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm
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Yes i am Sonya we had fire her already and yes it was that person hair we are very sorry.
Jyama / May 13, 2012 at 11:58 am
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The Queen West location was probably the WORST place I have ever eaten, and the pho was just so-so...gnarly aspects of the meal:

1. lipstick on my glass
2. Dried out limes and slimy basil leaves- obvious that they had been cut last night and and were not fresh
3. Pork Fresh rolls had about 2 tiny pieces of pork that were flavorless and tough
4. Bland broth with little salt or flavour

Overall, i understand now why this location is always empty.
AV / July 31, 2012 at 09:34 am
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Used to eat here on the regular when I lived on Sheridan, however now? Don't think so... they failed (terribly) their last 2 inspections:

http://app.toronto.ca/food2/DineSafeMain?userRequest=view_history&;ESTABLISHMENT_ID=10229275



Cam / June 1, 2013 at 05:01 pm
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I experienced the worst service I have ever had at the Queen West location. The staff was clearly annoyed by anyone coming in for food. I literally shudder as I walk by it still.
Graham Bell / November 24, 2013 at 08:36 pm
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One of the most unpleasant dining experiences I've had.

From the street view it appears like a very clean, new, and bright but that was definitely misleading. The service is terrible. Very rude waiters. No drinks offered, not even water. The cutlery was disgusting. The first fork had a sticky hair on it and then after requesting another, the 2nd fork had a hunk of something stuck to it. After they brought my meal 2 fruit flies landed on my plate while I was trying to eat. At one point the guy that brought out our meals blew his nose and shoved it in the servers face as a joke. After all of this the food was garbage. I had a rice/chicken dish which was very bland. It was tasteless. Anyone could made rice and put any average grocery store purchased spicy garlic sauce on chicken and it would be the same. Save your money and don't ever go here. I have never written a food review in the past but felt compelled so others don't have to have the same awful experience.

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