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Pho 911

I made a significant contribution to the Canadian economy last Friday. First, B and I headed off for a field trip to Scarborough, complete with a stop at Federick's, Toronto's greatest Haka Chinese restaurant. After a brief debate with the owner about whether Egg Foo Young should have dollops of oyster sauce (me = yes, Simon = no!), we headed off to Kitchen Stuff Plus for a minor consumer orgy as we rummaged through their January sales. I found so many deals that B had to help me load it all into my place when we got home.

Later in the evening, M and I headed out on the "let's get Venus in some decent jeans" mission. For our shopping pleasure, we headed to Yorkdale mall. Neither of us are mall rats, and they keep renovating the place, so we got thoroughly lost a few times. We had a stop at Jean Machine, the kind of store I NEVER set foot in. I didn't buy anything there, but I must have tried on 100 pairs of jeans – all cut for someone who is 14 and doesn't mind showing the top of her butt to the world. I mind, what with me no longer being 14. I need to say that although the clothing in this store was not age, or style, appropriate for me, the staff rocked and were determined to find something that would appeal to the old fart wincing in the change booth. At one point, there were three staff members slinging jeans over the top of the booth.

Finally we wound up at Cotton Ginny, a much more appropriate choice, where M convinced me to try on the size 16. I am grateful.

When M and I go out on a Friday adventure, we often wind up at Xe Lua, a Vietnamese Pho place on Spadina. We had planned to do exactly that, however, Xe Lua seems to have disappeared. For many, this comprises a Pho 911.  We wound up at Hello, Saigon (formerly Miss Saigon). This was a treat and proves that one should venture off the well-worn path once in a while. This restaurant appears to be owned by a husband and wife who are somewhat English-challenged but certainly not enthusiasm challenged. They really want to you like their food. Happily, that isn't difficult. The mango salad rolls were yummy and unusual and the Pho was rich and infused with an extra dash of five spice powder.

M is on the same eating discipline as me and likes to try to order her noodle soup with no noodles. This proves to be an interesting exercise if the person taking the order has limited English. Who goes out for Pho with no pho? How could someone with limited English understand that the customer doesn't want noodles in their noodle soup? Not surprisingly, after a lengthy ordering discussion involving lots of smiling, nodding and hand gestures, M's soup arrived with noodles. M wasn't about to complain or send it back as the fragrance of the soup drew us both in. Very nice broth and a generous serving. I need to say that the server, Husband, was sweet and charming and clearly wanted us to enjoy our restaurant experience. In addition to the food, I think he is one of the restaurant's greatest assets.

Rumour has it that Xe Lua is re-opening on the second floor of the same building … anyone know? Wherever they re-appear, they may have to go way over the top to earn our Friday night Pho business from Hello Saigon.

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One comment to “Pho 911”

  1. Added to my things to do list: visit Federick's for some hakka food. I hadn't heard of hakka cooking before reading this, but it sounds delicious. I haven't been to chinatown in years, but I lived nearby for a year of school, and if only I'd known about pho back then. Alas, all I can remember is many meals at Happy Seven, oh and another dim place that we frequented until we realised that they kept it dim to keep patrons from spotting the roaches.

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