Name: Phó House
Where: Etobicoke, ON. (West Toronto)
Affordability: $5-$10 per entrée
It always amazes me when I find restaurants in the most underrated locales with food that deserves attention. Located below a medical building next to a Starbucks in Etobicoke, in a neighborhood densely populated by Eastern Europeans, Phó House is indeed one restaurant worth searching for when you are in the area.
I would ordinarily order Phó when in a Vietnamese restaurant, but it was quite a sunny warm day and a hot Phó may not be the way to go. I decided on a more “home cooked” fare with COM SUON NUONG, TRUNG OP LA (C5 on the menu) for $7.50. That’s a grilled pork chop with steamed rice and a fried egg sunny side up. The dish itself was simple but very tasty and very filling. The plus of course was it’s authenticity to the culture. I imagined this would be something they would serve at home for a family dinner after a long day. Traditional cutlery: that’s spoon, fork and chopsticks, were provided should you wish to enjoy this meal the proper way. Chopsticks may be the cutlery of choice for some given that its an Asian meal but I prefer the spoon and fork combo. It was definitely to my advantage knowing how to use them together.
I started with the side salad that it came with. The salad itself was a refreshing fresh Gỏi cuốn or Vietnamese spring roll sans the rice paper and vermicelli. It’s a perfect appetizer to cleanse the palate before the grilled flavour of the pork chop and rice. The pork chop is medium-well done as one would expect with traditional Asian grilling procedures. I don’t think Asian cooking is very fond of raw or bloody meat products. You have to imagine buying fresh meat from the butcher in open wet markets on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City exposed to the elements. And understandably, you will want to make sure that the meat you are about to consume was cooked through. But I digress. I took a slice of pork and some rice on my spoon and the flavour was what I imagined it would be. It was perfectly grilled without the marinate flavour disappearing on the open fire grilling process. In fact, the slightly seared parts of the meat added a nice hint of burnt flavour to the dish. The explosion of sweet and mixed seasonings was harmonious and further highlighted by the feshly steamed Jasmine rice. I added Hoisin sauce later to my dish, though, because I love adding it to everything when I’m having Vietnamese meals. But that didn’t take away any of the flavour of the pork either – it made it better. I topped off my meal with a cup of tea, which had a nice cooling effect.
Overall, a nice dining experience. The staff here was very attentive to the needs of the customers and we got our food right away. Will I go back to Phó House? Yes, most definitely. Like I said on a previous blog of another Vietnamese restaurant, you can never go wrong with Phó and I’m glad there are more of them opening everywhere.