Pho Warms Up a Cold Day
Golden Orchid Restaurant
10626 97 Street
The Golden Orchid Restaurant is a bright and cheery addition to McCauley’s restaurant scene. When I went there for lunch with two friends, the temperature had just settled into minus double digits, and there was a foot of new-fallen snow on the ground. The sky was a deep, dark gray, and so much snow was falling that we couldn’t see downtown from 97 Street and 106 Avenue.
When we entered the Golden Orchid, the contrast with the outside was dramatic. The walls were a bright sunshine yellow with orange trim. The tables and chairs were black and red. The floor was brown ceramic tile, and everything was shiny, new, and clean, including the washrooms.
The menu was full of choices, 69 in all. My second friend is a vegetarian, so she asked about vegetarian options. The waitress said they had none, not even tofu. After we’d placed our orders, the three of us looked through a menu and confirmed that meat is in every meal and appetizer, with the exception of the green onion cakes. That was quite a disappointment, especially since this is where Padmanadi – one of Edmonton’s few vegetarian restaurants – used to be.
I had the Beef Brisket and Beef Flank Pho, and my two friends had the House Special Rice Noodle Soup and the Grilled Shrimp with Vermicelli. My pho was hot and tasty, especially once I added a few leaves of fresh Vietnamese basil and a squeeze of lemon. The beef was very tender and in large, long, thin strips. It was tricky to handle with chopsticks, but the flavour was quite pleasant. I was so hungry I managed to eat the whole large bowlful, even though it was chock full of beef and noodles. Normally, I would eat half this much and take the rest home for the next day.
The House Special also had plenty of noodles and was loaded with pork, shrimp, chicken, and squid. The friend who had it was impressed with the quantity and quality of meat and noodles and with the blend of flavours. My second friend said the peanut sauce she got was very good, and spicy too, “The way I like it.” She commented that the eight good-sized shrimp on her plate were more than she remembered getting at any other restaurant, and they were good too.
The service was prompt when we ordered our food, and it came quickly. But we had to wait a long time and then had to go to the counter to get our bill. In fact, the waitress didn’t bother to come back to ask us if we wanted anything else or to give us the bill, which we all thought was odd since most of the other tables were empty. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable and satisfying lunch, and it only cost $9 per person.