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
5 thoughts on “Not so Fab: Phobulous”
Were you dealing with the older lady with the cropped hair? It seems her enthusiasm to be there has hit an all-time low in the last few months. Being a regular, it’s disappointing to see when a server just wants to leave, but can’t since it’s a family business. I hope it picks up again soon.
have you been to many other Vietnamese restaurants? Most of the waiters and staff at every Vietnamese place I have ever been to are very efficient and don’t waste any time with small talk. I love it. There isn’t any banal banter, it is just straight to the goods: “what do you want!” The food comes out in about 5-8mins and then the bill and you’re outta there. I don’t need to be entertained by the waiter, or have someone fawning all over me to have a good meal. I’ve really come to appreciate the Vietnamese style of service.
When Phobulous just opened, the food was really good and they served weasel coffee that was so tasty. They’ve taken that coffee off the menu and the last few times I’ve been back the pho has been awful. It’s too bad. I really liked the place.
Yes, we were. But yeah, it’s a bit unfortunate when you don’t have a “choice” to leave when it is a family business. I, too hope it gets better.
My favourite Vietnamese/pho restaurant, Pho Tau Bay, is equally efficient, but not indifferent. There’s still room to be friendly, even if it’s just directed at you when you’re being seated and asking/paying for the bill.