Oxtail Pho & Banh Mi
Oxtail Pho & Banh Mi says it all in the name: they serve hearty portions of reasonably priced pho and banh mi here, as well as house specialty noodle and rice dishes.
Owner Linda Tran of Banh Mi Bar renovated this spot over the course of half a year to transform it from a grungy dive bar into a casual hangout serving Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai influenced dishes.
The entire place is decked out in a cheerful shade of yellow, Tran’s favourite colour. Cutting boards of various quirky shapes and sizes advertise various Asian offerings.
Crispy spring rolls ($5) are a typical start to an Asian feast, an order of three thick, greasy but crispy rice paper rolls stuffed with vermicelli, pork, carrot, taro and Asian spices, served with Asian herbs, pickled carrots and daikon, and an acidic sweetened fish sauce.
The house pho combination ($13) is a go-to, a large bowl (the only option) of steamy broth that delivers on familiar flavours loaded up with rare beef, well-done flank, plump little beef balls, and chicken, all on top of rice noodles and of course, served with the traditional sauce and herb accompaniments.
Signature oxtail pho ($13) tops a steamy bowl of noodles with hunks of fatty oxtail instead.
The pho satay ($13) also only comes in one large size and is a much saucier, nuttier version of pho with your choice of chicken or beef. A fresh cucumber and tomato garnish is a miss in the hot soup, but the crushed peanuts and pineapple swimming with the rice noodles bring salty sweetness.
Ha Noi pan-fried sauteed pho rice noodles ($12) are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, served with your choice of chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu along with a mix of traditional vegetables swimming in a sweet, semi-thick sauce.
Red or green curry ($11) brings in a Thai influence with a creamy coconut milk sauce and bamboo shoots, with a choice between chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu with vegetables, and rice or vermicelli.
The banh mi bar here is by far the cheapest section of the menu, with lemongrass pork belly or chicken going for just $5, char siu BBQ pork belly for $7. The crispy roll comes fresh from a Chinatown bakery, stuffed with pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, cucumber, onion, and chili, and your choice of hoisin, sriracha mayo, or other sauces.
They’re fully licensed so you can enjoy a 7-Up-laden Sake Sunrise ($11) or domestic beer ($4) along with piping hot soup.
The long, narrow area isn’t the biggest, but there are plenty of tables that seat four so it’s a good spot for groups who love reasonably priced, big bowls of meaty pho.