Every pho enthusiast has their favourite. Mine happens to be Pho Tau Bay for many reasons, but at the top: they are efficient and consistent. It definitely helps that it is the only dish they serve, so due attention can be paid to the soup base.
That said, I’m always open to trying new places, and my parents were eager to share their favourite with the rest of my family. Consequently, when Amanda was back in town in mid-November for her convocation, we headed to Cô Dô Huê one chilly evening for dinner.
Located in a non-descript strip mall in
Castledowns Pembina, I would say that Cô Dô Huê could have the status of a hidden gem…except for the fact they had nearly a full house on a random Tuesday.
The interior was clean, pained a restrained shade of green. The patterned, upholstered chairs dated the space a bit, but I did appreciate the booths, including a large, circular one that we eventually settled into. It felt like we could’ve held court on the dining room!
The first thing I noticed about the menu were the prices – pho (albeit no size options to choose from) were priced at $9.95, about $2 more than the Chinatown restaurants like Pho Tau Bay that I more often frequent. Still, it was the mission of the day to try it, so both Felicia and I ordered our standard bowls: special beef noodle soup for her, and medium rare beef for me.
Mack, who typically shies away from soup, was convinced to select the spicy beef noodle soup (which a few of my parents’ friends claim is the best in the city). Amanda opted for her usual vermicelli bowl, and my parents ordered rice plates. We also agreed to share green onion cakes ($4.95) at my urging.
Three colour rice plate
Four colour rice plate (my dad couldn’t stop raving about the grilled shrimp on sugarcane)
Vermicelli bowl with grilled pork
Food came out quickly, in spite of the full room. The green onion cakes were a hit with the table, fried to a golden perfection. They were even salty enough for me!
Green onion cakes
The pho servings were large, as expected (Felicia barely got halfway through her noodles). The broth was clear, imbued with the familiar flavours of anise and cloves, among others. My beef, shaved thin, also remained tender throughout, and didn’t overcook. The only contentious spot was Felicia’s tendon; it was undercooked, and thus didn’t melt in her mouth as is her preference.
Special beef noodle soup
Medium rare beef noodle soup
Mack also enjoyed his soup (hallelujah!), spicy and full of texture. More importantly, he mentioned that he’d be open to having pho in the future!
Spicy beef noodle soup
Service as a whole was great – servers were attentive, and returned numerous times to check on us and to refill our water. Although I wouldn’t hesitate to dine at Cô Dô Huê again, its location would prevent me from doing so at a regular frequency. But you can bet you’ll be seeing my parents there again soon!
Cô Dô Huê
12819 140 Avenue