I noticed this place while driving by on Willingdon Avenue (there is an entrance off of this street). I happen to like Vietnamese food (I have lots of reviews of different Pho houses) and decided to give it a try one day while in the area.
I was by myself this time. Good thing, because I would have had trouble getting the double stroller into the place (people with wheelchairs and people with kids in strollers take note). Also, since I was by myself, I decided to have some Pho with rare beef and tendon. My dear husband does not like the look or texture of tendon - so I never order it with him. My children won't touch it either, so it is a special treat when I go for Pho solo.
I ordered a small "Beef rice noodle soup) with rare beef and tendon ($6.25). I also ordered the Special Vietnamese Sandwich ($3.25). Unfortunately, they do not serve my favourite Vietnamese drink (preserved salty lemon with iced soda) so I settled for a Coke.
The female server was polite enough, but I would have rated the overall service as 1.5 stars due to the fact that the Pho I received was not what I ordered. When I looked into my steaming bowl of broth and noodles, I saw one small piece of gray ham-like substance and the rare beef slices. I called the waitress over and said that there was no tendon (which I was looking so forward to). She just said, "Oh, we didn't have any so we put this pork in instead... the tendon was still frozen." I was annoyed because I should have been asked if this substitution was acceptable before they served it to me. Frankly, I would have changed my order and tried a vermicelli plate with lemongrass chicken and spring rolls instead of Pho and a sandwich.
Other than the piece of weird pork meat, the soup was good. There was green onions and cilantro in the broth, the noodles were the proper texture, and the sliced beef was tender, tasty and could cook nicely in the steaming hot broth.
The sub came after. It was only okay. It was made with that weird meat that they put into my soup. There were a nice amount of veggies on the sandwich though.
The ambiance is quite simple, just functional. It appeared clean. I did not check out the washrooms.
I might go back if I'm in the area, but I will advise when I order that substitutions are not acceptable and that they must check with me if they are out of any items in my order or I will send the substituted order back without paying. I won't bother with the weird meat sub (aka "Special Vietnamese Sandwich")
I've been here a couple times now and the food has been great both times - I've had pho and spring rolls both times. The waitress was friendly and wasn't afraid to make suggestions when I went to order.
The pho is good, though the noodles themselves are a little nondescript. I'd also appreciate it if they'd change the chopsticks they use since the current ones are extremely slick and make eating a big bowl of slippery noodles a bit of an ordeal.
The place itself is pretty cramped and the first time I was there they'd propped the door open, which in November made it a tad chilly (fortunately, they closed it shortly after).
I ordered the rare beef pho. At too many places, the "rare beef" is completely cooked through by the time your bowl of pho arrives at your table. The art is in the stacking -- at least some of the beef should remain pink, for example, through elevation above the hot pho broth.
They also got the cut of beef right: The beef has a better texture when it is cut across the grain as marbling creates a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Overcooked, with-the-grain beef can have the texture of cardboard.
I also loved the way they added a generous helping of finely chopped cilantro and green onions to the broth. This gave you a nice hit of flavour in each spoon of broth.
The only complaint I have is that I ordered a small bowl as I wasn't overly hungry. Technically, I did receive a small bowl but it was stuffed full of noodles and came with a ginormous side plate of sprouts and basil. Most would call this good value. Not wanting to waste food, I dutifully ate it all up and felt like a derigible afterwards.