A good bowl of pho is a work of art. An addictive, delicious work of art, that I crave sometimes with the intensity of a crack addict needing a fix. Maybe that’s a hyperbole, but it feels very true nevertheless. Over the holiday break I feasted on plenty of delicious foods including a roast goose, a leg of lamb, homemade egg nog, the best fruit punch in the world, and many other delicacies, and yet by the time this week rolled around I was craving a bowl of restorative pho with a scary intensity.
I am not alone in my love, there are many addicts roaming the streets looking for their next fix, so I’d like to tell you about the most amazing pho in Calgary. It’s served in a small nondescript restaurant in Chinatown, one of those ones you’ve been to many times, and the decor looks like a hundred other venerable establishments. It’s located in a building that positively reeks of all manner of dried seafood, so you have to bravely cross that barrier before you get there, but never mind, it’s worth it.
A pho lives and dies by its broth, and Pho Hoai’s broth is a work of art. Rich, meaty, silky, it’s as close to ridiculously great as I’ve been able to find in our city. The soup will inevitably contain some noodles, your choice of meat, sliced onions and cilantro if you so desire (I don’t), and will come gilded with a huge plate of the freshest, largest basil you’ll ever see, a hot pepper or two, some lime wedges, and a large handful of bean sprouts to add some crunch. The rare meat slowly cooks in the hot broth as you swirl around the noodles and achieves a perfect tender texture.
And as you toss in a handful of sprouts and basil, and drizzle in some lime juice (or a metric ton, if you’re like me), and sip that rich broth that tastes like a spicy hug, you can’t help but feel that the universe must be a pretty benevolent place for something like this soup to exist.
5/5PHO HOAI 132 3 Ave SE (403) 264-8174