Before jumping on the LRT to tackle the Home & Garden Show last Sunday, Annie and I met up for lunch at Phobulous. Neither of us had been there, but we’d heard quite positive things about the restaurant prior to our visit.
Our first impressions started off right – the interior was bright and cheery, and I was immediately drawn to the colourful paper lanterns hung from the ceiling.
That feeling didn’t last for long, however. We sat ourselves at the one remaining table (the only other seats were at the bar), and the server, with nary a greeting, wordlessly dropped off menus at our table and left. Our subsequent exchanges with her were similarly curt and perfunctory; it seemed like the last thing she wanted to do was interact with us at all.
In the face of such indifferent service, we were hoping the food would help balance out the experience. I liked the approach they took on their menu: dish categories were broken down and explained, so that those new to Vietnamese cuisine wouldn’t feel excluded. I also appreciated their cheeky page of pho puns (including “pho real” and “phonomenon”). I decided to order the “phovarite” with rare beef and brisket ($8.95). Annie decided to stick with bun, and chose the vermicelli bowl with grilled beef and spring rolls ($10.25).
My pho was disappointing, especially because it was one of their namesake dishes. Not only was the broth salty, but the small amount of meat provided was overcooked. The brisket was the better of the two, and the rare beef was anything but.
Pho with rare beef and brisket
Annie fared better with her vermicelli bowl. She commented that the noodles were more moist than bowls she typically encounters, perhaps due to the inclusion of more shredded vegetables. She enjoyed it.
Bun with grilled beef and spring rolls
With so few Vietnamese restaurants in the area, there’s no doubt Phobulous fills a need. But with unremarkable service and inconsistent food, it won’t be a restaurant I’ll be seeking out again anytime soon.
8701 109 Street
Monday-Saturday 11am-10pm, Sundays 11am-9pm