Pho Mi 89

Having grown up in a fairly traditional Vietnamese household, I always find myself drawn to traditional Vietnamese food when I’m looking for comfort. Of course, with a cook as awesome as my mother (and who doesn’t say their mother is the best cook in the world?), I am picky with what I consider authentic Vietnamese.

Traditional beef noodle soup is a popular dish in Vietnamese cuisine. Pho (Please don't pronounce it "foe." The closest I can think of to explain it is by telling you to pronounce it “fuh.”) is a rice noodle soup in a beef broth, generally with sliced beef and onions on top. There is a multitude of Vietnamese restaurants in the Burlington-Oakville area, each with its own variety of dishes, but I judge whether or not I like a place on its pho. If I’m trying a new place, I will always order the hot, steamy bowls of noodle soup as my first meal; if it passes the test, then I will venture into other offerings.

It was cold and rainy yesterday so I told myself I wanted something hot and hearty. Soup. With noodles. And meat. Yum. I had been to 89 on countless occasions, so I knew exactly where I was going to get some heart-warming goodness. Plus, being swamped by meetings all day, I didn’t have much time on my hands and needed something quick that didn’t break the bank.

I pulled into the parking lot just after 1 p.m. and walked inside where the dining room was about 50 percent full. There were only two servers working outside the kitchen, and between the two of them they managed to take orders, serve, clean tables and man the cash quickly and efficiently.

Typical Vietnamese restaurants leave menus on the table for customers, along with a pen and a blank order form. Menu items are numbered and you are expected to write the number of your dish on the form, along with the quantity. It is a quick ordering system that saves the servers time instead of waiting for you to tell them what you want. Knowing what I wanted, I didn’t need to fill in a form and just asked the server for a small bowl of pho with everything in it (Pho Dac Biet, $5). By the time I had taken my jacket off and settled into my chair, my food had arrived. A hot cup of complimentary tea is always given, along with fresh vegetables to add to the soup.

With pho, you don’t want to see a broth that is murky with a lot of fat sitting on top. This broth was clear and flavourful, the noodles did not stick together in a clump (a huge pet peeve of mine) and the sliced white onions and scallions on top were nice and fresh. Since I ordered the Dac Biet, there was a plethora of meat on top of the noodles: well-done beef, medium-cooked beef, beef tripe, beef tendon and a single beef meatball. If all that sounds like it would make you hesitant, there are choices that include chicken or even no meat at all, though it is still cooked with beef broth, so it is not a vegetarian option.

The vegetables that should accompany a bowl of pho are fresh bean sprouts, sprigs of basil and a wedge of lime. I prefer my pho with a squirt of the lime, lots of hoisin sauce to give it some sweetness, and lots of hot sauce. The basil leaves are plucked off to soak in the bowl as you eat them with the noodles, and I generally don’t add bean sprouts because I find it cools the broth down too much, and I like it steaming hot.

Pho Mi 89 is a great option if you are looking for a quick, inexpensive meal and don’t want your standard fast-food junk. I feel better with an option such as this since there are vegetables and other fresh things and nothing is fried. For a meal that costs less than most burger combos, is satisfying and will leave you full without spending your whole pay, it is a choice you should absolutely consider. The service is quick (I was in and out in 20 minutes) and the food is comforting. Just be prepared to smell like Vietnamese food for the rest of the day, because that soup smell certainly knows how to permeate your clothes.

Pho Mi 89 on Urbanspoon
Pho Mi 89
2501 Prince Michael Dr., Oakville


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