Not a Typical Noodle House
10626 97 Street
First, this was the original location of Padmanadi. Then, it was a short-lived ramen house. Then, it was an even shorter-lived Vietnamese noodle house. Now, it is also a Vietnamese noodle house, but with a slightly different take on the cuisine than other such establishments along 97 Street.
Uyen Uong has a variety of soups, rice, and noodle dishes, but the selection of soups in particular seem more exotic to my Western tastes. I noticed there was no Pho Ga (chicken pho) or Pho Tai (medium well steak pho), which are my two usual standbys when I try a new pho house. If you like beef balls, tripe, tendon, and spleen (the first time I have ever seen the latter on a pho menu), you will hit the jackpot here. If you like more basic kinds of pho, you might have to do some back and forth with the staff to have something made up for you, which may prove difficult because of the language barrier.
Even the menu proved difficult to interpret at times. Some of the meat was described as being cooked “roughly.” I tried out the place with Colleen, and she went for the Special Beef Noodle Soup. There was no description on the menu of what exactly made this soup special. She ended up with a bowl of beef balls, tendon, medium well steak, and brisket. The serving was generous, although she ended up doctoring up the broth with a lot of soy sauce, saying the flavour was not as rich and beefy as she prefers.
I had a Carrot Beef Stew with Rice Noodles. Again, a great portion with lots of huge chunks of beef, cooked carrots, and a mountain of noodles. Vietnamese style stew is more like a soup, and the broth is different than pho in that it has a lot of paprika and lots of aromatics like anise and cilantro. There are hints of both spiciness and sweetness, and Uyen Uong’s version was excellent. I found myself drinking up as much of the broth as I could. The meat could have been leaner, but it was no worse than other places where I have had this dish.
Both of our bowls were less than $9 and service was friendly. Although this probably would not be my first choice to go for pho, the rice and noodle dishes seemed a lot more familiar like grilled chicken or beef, fried rice, and various kinds of stir fries.