Sunday, 7 April 2013

Pho Van – Vietnamese Pho Done Well

Vietnamese Noodle House in the northwest

Saturday night was the best night of the week. After a full week eating leftovers from the fridge, dining out became a necessity. A change of taste and cuisine was highly anticipated.

Since my wife was visiting her sister, we decided to treat them out to dinner. Pho Van was selected since my dad said that the pho was made well. 

Before we went in the restaurant, we expected the pho to be hot and salty. Typically, Vietnamese restaurants serve pho in this manner. This is to ensure that the flavors in the soup are retained, cold and prepared noodles can cook quickly once an order is placed, germs are barely existent, and the lifespan of the soup lengthened.  for a period of time. Little did we know, this gem that is situated across from the northwest T & T Supermarket surpassed these ordinary expectations.

I must declare to you that Pho Van is the first Vietnamese restaurant that we went to in Calgary that we did not go home thirsty and with the urgency to down four liters of water in one sitting. The absence of thirst is a good indicator that the soup the chefs produced did not contain high amounts of sodium. The lack of sodium hinted that the soup was not kept for a long period of time; it was made fresh.

Hello Gorgeous Shrimps!

As an appetizer, we ordered item #5, Prawn Salad Rolls (three rolls for $5.50). Each roll contained three juicy and plump prawns, some leaves of lettuce, and an abundance of vermicelli noodles. These ingredients were all nicely tucked in together with a thin sheet of rice wrapper. If you ate these rolls by themselves, they would have tasted quite bland. Only the sweetness of the shrimps would have awakened your taste buds.

My bite looks neat, eh?

Thankfully, these rolls came with a sauce in a separate bowl. The sauce was creamy concoction. I suspect that soy sauce and oyster sauce were mingling with one another. It was insanely rich, sweet, and tangy.

Durian Smoothie

We ordered two drinks as well: Durian Smoothie ($5.50) and Strawberry Bubble Tea ($5.50).

Even though the drinks were a bit pricy, the amount given was really good. I liked how the staff packaged each drink in a plastic drink container as well. This way, if a drink is not finished by the end of the meal, it can be taken out without any waste.  

I did not get to try the Durian Smoothie as my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were sharing it. However, judging by the colour of the smoothie, real durian was used.  

 My wife and I shared the Strawberry Bubble Tea. The tapioca bubbles were gummy and chewy.
Strawberry Bubble Tea

In a sip, the drink started out sugar sweet and then increased into the sweetness of ripe and luscious strawberries. From the seeds we bit into and saw in our drink, we discovered that real strawberries were sacrificed for our taste buds’ happiness.
Tapioca bubbles and strawberry seeds mingle in harmony

Next came our mains. 

I placed an order on item #54, Beef Stew Noodle ($9.25). This is what it looked like:

I may look soupy on the surface, but I offer lots of beef underneath.
Visually, I was stunned at how big the bowl of noodles was. There was a lot of soup, bit of green onion, and swirls of onion.

When I dug deeper, I discovered a lot of noodle, as well as many large chunks of beef stew meat and beef TENDONS!!!!!!!!!!

Thick, gooey tendons
For Asians, eating beef tendons is like eating gold…or something close to it. Tendons are believed to strengthen the cartilage in the body. Whether there is any scientific proof of this idea remains a mystery.

Nonetheless, I was very appreciative of the fact that for less than $10, my bowl of hot noodle goodness came with so many pieces of beef. Not only was there quantity, the quality was very good too. The beef and the tendons were both very soft. 

Juicy, tender beef stew meat
When I bit into them, the juice flowed out quickly  and the pieces disassembled easily.

 The only reason why the pieces of beef broke apart so easily in my mouth is because they were stewed for a long time. 

Soft tendon
This period of time allowed the broth of this bowl of noodles to mature and to grow intensely flavorful with the deep and complex overtones of beef. Soft notes of the sweet and earthy nature of the carrots were also present.  Sipping the broth made me forget about the wintry cold outside and feel as though a warm, fuzzy blanket has been wrapped around my body.

My sister-in-law shared a piece of spring roll and shrimp with me from her order of #25 (Grilled Shrimp, Beef, Spring Rolls Vermicelli for $10.50).

Physically and internally pleasing
The spring roll was nice and crispy on the outside with the minced pork meat stuffing flavor bursting. The shrimp maintained its sweetness and plumpness with a hint of just-off-the-grill taste.

A perfect spring roll


My wife said she enjoyed the Van’s Special Beef Noodle Soup (large for $8.95). The broth was nice and warm with a strong beef flavor. Like my bowl of noodles, hers was filled to the brim with soup, chunks of beef, and noodles. My brother-in-law had a small bowl of what my wife had (small for $7.95) and he liked it a lot as well. 


I was really impressed with Pho Van. We definitely took a gamble to try out this restaurant. I am very glad that we did. The décor was modern, but simple.  Most importantly, this place was very clean.

The service was commendable. We all received our orders within 15 minutes. We even saw someone come in to order for take-out. They waited less than 10 minutes before their food was packaged and ready to go. I especially liked the staff’s courteousness. They were attentive and nice.


Our final total came to $61.00 (with tips). On the surface, it seemed pricy. However, this amount fed four people with a take-away container for my wife and my sister-in-law (they were not able to finish their food). Also, it included a great quantity and quality of food, quick and mannerly service from the staff, and a peaceful environment to enjoy all the delights.

Excellent food...just like in Saigon

My Blurb: Pho Van has definitely become the best Vietnamese pho place in northwest of Calgary. 

Pho Van Vietnamese Noodle House
#132 - 40 Country Hills Landing NW
Calgary, AB   T3K 5P3
Ph.: 403-453-0168

Pho Van on Urbanspoon

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