When you go to a Thai & Chinese fusion noodle place that serves pho but it is not the main focus, you’ll be raising eyebrows about its quality.
As a full-blooded Vietnamese man, I eat, sleep and breathe pho. It is my lifeblood, it is my favourite food in the whole world and I almost never say no to eating it. It is next to impossible to have homemade pho by your mother (or one of her friends) be beaten by a restaurant but there are still some great pho places out there. It is like an Italian grandmother making pasta, you cannot compete but you can make it taste great.
I was at Anime North in Toronto working a wrestling show over the weekend and I re-visited a place called Kiwi Rice & Noodle Bar in Etobicoke (a region of Toronto) where I ate at three years ago grabbing a bowl of pho. I remember at that time it was somewhat pedestrian for quality, it was packed due to the convention and that it is not a primary pho restaurant, I wasn’t giving high expectations on it.
I decided to go back there again and give it another chance. This time, I went in at a time where there would not be ridiculously busy so I could give it a proper evaluation.
When presented the bowl of pho, my expectations for it were low yet again. The presentation was something to desired as it looked like one of the tallest bowls of pho with next to nothing inside. To think you pay $11.95 for this when most pho restaurants charge no more than $11.00 on average for an extra large bowl.
Life taught me not to judge a book by its cover. Once you actually mix the noodles and beef together, you start to see that its portioning was respectable. I just wish there was more than one size since I always order the largest size possible.
It was surprisingly flavourful! It made me forget about the lacklustre experience I had last time and I felt like it was a completely different restaurant from before! It is common to add in hoisin sauce and/or sriracha sauce to your broth after tasting it to give it some extra flavour but I didn’t add any hoisin as it had that much flavour. I did add a little sriracha to get a little heat in it.
The meat in the pho was okay but if they had nailed that down, we could be looking at an elite bowl! They only had one cut of beef and it appears to be just thick cuts of flank steak which were fairly tender. Tendon, tripe, brisket and tendon are the other cuts of beef that traditionally accompany it. I really hope they move forward with trying to improve their pho, it’ll be my go-to place every time I have to wrestle at Anime North.
I ordered the black bean chicken to go with my pho since I was sharing it with my good friend and friends of hers. It’s a safe bet to order since you get exactly what you want and I have no problems with how it tastes. It will not exactly wow you but it is delicious. I nodded my head in approval upon tasting it. The flavour is there, it is cooked well and the black bean sauce isn’t overpowering. I would order it again however I would order something else along with it. I could not eat this alone and be satisfied. I have a big appetite you know!
Food – 7.5/10
Price – 6/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Service – 7.5/10
Overall – 7.5/10
Eat there again? – Yes