First Pho

photo: Pho Ga at Pho Vuong – credit: Rebecca Baugniet

It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. Up until this week, I was a Pho virgin. I’ve been aware of this food for a while – seen the tweets, heard friends saying how they were “addicted to Pho”, and nodded vaguely in response, not quite sure exactly what might be implied by a Pho addiction. And yet, the curiosity did not propel me into action, the way it usually does when I hear about some new and delicious food. This week however, after reading Elizabeth Smyth’s report on Pho-Ever (in the November/December issue of EAT, of course), I thought to myself, “it’s really high time I went out and tried some Pho”. Then I heard about Pho Vuong, a restaurant on Fisgard that opened last March, and I decided this would be the place to make the discovery.

As I approached the entrance, I pondered my reluctance to overcome my ignorance in the face of this Vietnamese specialty. I love trying new foods, and there is very little that I won’t eat. I am the opposite of a picky eater; in fact, as I go further down the path of a career in food writing, it often strikes me that I am perhaps not quite discerning enough. So what was it that had kept me away from Pho for so long?

Situated where the Magnolia Bakery formerly operated, two doors down from a Noodle Box location, Pho Vuong is definitely doing all they can to welcome new customers. The boards outside the door boast 20% off total bill before 3 pm, 1 hour free parking in the adjacent parkade and free Pho for children under five on the weekend. Once seated in the elegant but welcoming dining room of the restaurant, I decided to come forward with my inexperience immediately, as the waitress was friendly and eager to answer questions. I opted for the shrimp and pork salad roll with peanut dipping sauce to start, and a bowl of the recommended Pho Ga, (chicken Pho). The restaurant introduced a new menu with over sixty items in September, so I was happy for a little guidance. The food came quickly and made for a nice study in contrasts – the salad roll fresh and crunchy followed by the soup; a generous bowl, warm and savoury with strips of chicken and pieces of chicken meatball, green onions and rice noodles.

While I struggled to gather up the slippery noodles with my chopsticks the reason for my hesitation became obvious to me; I like to look like I know what I’m doing, and when it comes to chopsticks, I am clearly still a novice. I can handle veggies and rice, but long slippery noodles in a large bowl of aromatic broth provided a somewhat frustrating challenge to my inexperienced hand. I couldn’t get it into my mouth fast enough. Also, I was raised to view good table manners as paramount, and my attempts to get more than one noodle into my mouth at a time were anything but refined. Fortunately, the kind waitress walked by and did not laugh at me when I requested a fork. Even better, Pho Vuong has just partnered with Dine In, so I can gain some practice in the privacy of my own home. I’m going to try the Bun Mang Vit (duck and bamboo vermicelli) next. I think I’ll be a Pho pro in no time.

To view Pho Vuong’s menu, visit their Facebook page.

Pho Vuong

622 Fisgard St.


Written By:

Rebecca Baugniet is a freelance food writer and editor living on Canada’s West Coast with her husband and their four children. The author of three published cookbooks, Rebecca has also written for EAT Magazine and for Montréal ...

Comments are closed.