A Return Visit to Pho’licious

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Here at the foodiePrints household, Saturday mornings are usually rather busy, tending to chores and errands. There’s something appealing about getting everything done and having the rest of the weekend to yourself.

But, after a morning of toil, there’s nothing nicer than a nice bowl of noodle soup, especially on a cold day. And, that’s just how we treated ourselves the first weekend of September.

Since its opening Spring 2009, Don and I have visited Pho’licious once, the day after Canada Day that year. Although we very much enjoyed our pho, we never made a return visit until this past weekend.

Pho’licious is a family-run restaurant. Located just off of Somerset Street W. (at Booth) in the heart of Chinatown, it is somewhat lost in a sea of pho houses. However, I strongly urge you to take the detour off the main strip and give this establishment a try. You’ll find much more than just the typical pho noodle soup, rice dishes, vermicelli, spring rolls, and rice paper wraps on their menu. There’s also Vietnamese submarines (Bánh Mì) and other authentic dishes such as “Hanoi Shrimp Paste Soup” (Bún Thang Hanoi) and “Fish Cake Soup” (Bún Cha Cá).

Feeling rather famished, Don and I were ready for a big lunch. We started with a great appetizer, their “special” spring rolls (Cha nem dac biet).

Pho’licious special spring roll

At $4.50, I initially thought our order a bit pricey since we were only served two rolls. But, they are worth every penny. The English description is deceiving because the rolls are not actually spring rolls, but small rice paper wraps that have been deep fried. Crispy on the outside, there was also a stickiness underneath from the rice flour. Served with a dipping sauce and some lettuce leaves to wrap around each morsel, they made it onto my must-look-for list at pho noodle houses.

The main reason Don wanted to return was to try their Vietnamese sub ($3). A new addition to their menu since May, Pho’licious separates itself from other bánh mì shops and pho noodle houses by making their own BBQ pork, “ham” (Vietnamese luncheon meat), liver pâté, and pickled vegetables. The banh mi is an off-menu option and normally only available for take-out. If you would like to order it eat-in, you have to order a main as well.

Bánh Mì

Don, being a fan of the banh mi sandwiches, remarked Pho’liocus makes a good one, but was critical of the butter. He prefers less in his sandwiches, so will request less the next time he visits. He also remarked how fresh everything tasted. Baked until crispy, he devoured his sandwich quickly.

Now, I did say we were hungry, right? We also ordered our own soup noodles. A medium chicken rice noodle soup (Pho gà – $7.99) for me and a beef stewed rice noodle soup (Bò kho – $8.75).

A fan of Vietnamese noodle houses’ specials, Don always gravitates to anything “dac biet.” Pho’licous’ specialties include a spicy beef stew noodle, called “bo kho,” which he likens to Vietnam’s answer for French beef bourguignon. To date, he has had bowls of bo kho noodles at two other local noodle houses, preferring Ox Head’s in Kanata. Pho’licious’ was accordingly the least spicy of the three he has tried, but he readily enjoyed his bowl, commenting it was generous and flavourful. Tender braised beef tends to make him a happy man.

Chicken rice noodle soup

Beef stewed noodle soup

As for me, it was a great bowl of pho ga noodles. Lots of cilantro, fresh bean sprouts and a deeply flavourful broth, it was most enjoyable. The component I liked best were the three quail eggs I found among the slices of chicken breast.

The verdict? Well, we’re not going to wait four years for another visit!

Total: $27.96 (after taxes, before tip)

300 Booth Street
Tues-Sun: 11am-9pm

Teacher by day and blogger by night, I have always been passionate about food. I grew up watching my mother cook and bake as I sat at the kitchen table doing my homework. In the summers, I happily played in the backyard garden, picking strawberries as my parents tended their crops. A city girl with a love for the outdoors, my goal is to capture the ever-changing Ottawa food scene. When I’m not running, you can find me shopping for ingredients or in the kitchen cooking for my family and friends. Whether you’ve been cooking for a long time or are learning to cook for the first time, I hope you will find something delicious here to inspire you.