9656 107A Avenue
For the longest time, this address housed the one noodle house in Chinatown I had yet to try. The reason? The outside of the building looked so run down, that I feared what was going on in the kitchen. At the advice of my pho-loving friends, who told me the food was no better or worse than anywhere else, I decided to give it a try. However, by this time the restaurant had been sold and was closed.
Ho Vietnamese Noodle House is the new restaurant that has opened in the space. The facade of the building has been completely redone. Inside, the small seating area is clean and bright. Best of all, the new owners are friendly, service is wonderful, and if you sit facing the front window you get a wonderful view. You can see everything going on along that part of 107A Avenue down 97 Street, as well as the downtown skyline in the distance.
The menu is quite large, and includes everything from pho soup and vermicelli noodle bowls to stir fried and sizzling dishes. There is also a good selection of appetizers and beverages. I went with a regular sized bowl of Pho Tai, which is medium rare sliced beef in beef broth with noodles.
For a regular bowl, it was huge, and had more noodles than average. The beef was sliced thin and was tender, although it was already cooked through when it reached our table (usually it still has some pink and continues cooking in the bowl). My dining companion had a bowl of beef noodle soup without any meat added, and she was also impressed with the portion size.
And how did the soup taste? Both of us could smell the aromatics in the broth as soon as the bowls were placed before us, which was a very good sign. Broth really makes or breaks pho. It should have several layers of flavour, without being overly salty or sweet. This broth was light coloured, not too greasy, and had a wonderful combination of seasonings. It was delicious.
We both agreed we would return just to enjoy the soup again. However, I am also looking forward to trying some of the other menu items, which are reasonably priced. Bowls of soup will run you about $8-$10 while other main dishes range from $9-$16, Located right along 107A Avenue, the restaurant is very accessible by walking. There is also a small parking area in the back.
Don’t judge a book by its cover – or in this case, a restaurant by its former appearance. Ho Vietnamese Noodle House is poised to add more flavour to Chinatown.