I’m always on the search for that perfect bowl of pho. Thin, fresh noodles sitting in a clear lightly spiced broth filled with slices of beef brisket, tendon, tripe, beef balls and rare beef slices. There are some pretty darn good ones in Calgary but I’m always looking for a new favorite Vietnamese restaurant.
My hubby is sick of trying new Vietnamese restaurants only to be disappointed – he only likes to stick to old favorites now so it’s pretty much impossible for me to convince him to go with me. So this time it’s my brother that falls victim to my search. When I first walked through the door I wasn’t greeted by the smell of simmering pho or the lingering smell of grilled Vietnamese pork vermicelli. Instead, the restaurant had a very strong washroom smell. No, not the stinky you-know-what kind but the kind of odor that hits you when you walk into the public washrooms at the mall. My immediate thoughts were uh-oh but it was too late to turn back now.
We started with the Spring Rolls ($6.25). These were pretty good – fried well and the filling was substantial but I still think nothing beats homemade spring rolls.
My brother had the Chicken and Beef Sate Noodle Soup (XL for $9.50). When we dived into our noodle bowls we immediately noticed that the noodles were in one huge clump and it took some maneuvering with our chopsticks to break it apart. The noodles were not soft like they were boiled fresh, but rather hard and cold. There’s no excuse for this as even if the noodles were pre-boiled it would only take a few seconds to bring them back to their soft supple state. I tried some of the broth and it did have a nice kick to it. My brother mentioned how small the portion was for a XL and I have to agree. There wasn’t very much noodles or meat at all which was disappointing.
I went with the Special Beef Noodle Soup (L for $8.25). This version of the special beef noodle soup did not wow me. As mentioned above, the noodles were hard and clumped together and the broth tasted very odd and different to me. It seemed to me that either old stale spices were used or a store-bought pho spice packet was used in the broth. The serving was also on the small size as their L size was comparable to a small elsewhere.
Honestly, I was quite disappointed with this place considering the high ratings and reviews from others on Urbanspoon. Service was also a miss. I had my baby with me and we were seated for 10 minutes and ordered our food before they asked if I wanted a high chair. I didn’t see one in the establishment so I assumed they didn’t have one but they pulled one out from the side room. Other than that, the service is pretty much the same as other Vietnamese restaurants where they only stop at your table to take your order and bring you your food. So I guess the hunt for that perfect bowl of pho continues.
Pho Anh Huyen Noodle House
1403 Centre St NW