Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pho Soc Trang- Vietnamese Cuisine at it's Best!

I discovered Vietnamese food on my fortieth birthday.  A friend and I went wandering through Ottawa's Chinatown looking for good eats and "stumbled" upon a small, cubby hole of a restaurant called Mekong.  The patrons were all Asian.  Hah! this one should be good!  We were perplexed by the menu.  No problem, we're adventurous!  The waiter was asked to bring us typical dishes and away we went.  Slurping pho, enjoying rice paper rolls- I was hooked!

When I first moved to Kelowna, three years ago, finding a great Vietnamese restaurant was a bit of a challenge.  Ottawa and Vancouver offered up great Vietnamese cuisine to satisfy my frequent cravings for pho- a traditional beef soup, but not in Kelowna.  And then came Pho Soc Trang, the restaurant!  It opened a few months later on Water Street.  Hallellujah!
Pho- you've got to try it!

Stevie, my daughter and I, reviewed Pho's menu with trepidation.  Would they be serving our favourites?  Was it authentic Vietnamese and was is good?  All of our concerns were for naught- the food was authentic and great!  Bonus- the service is superb- friendly, fast and knowledgeable.

Vermicelli bowl
Stevie's favourite dish is the Vermicelli Bowl with meat and a spring roll- it looks great and tastes amazing.  Her next favourite is the pho- a large, fragrant bowl of beef and rice noodles, served with a small platter of mung bean sprouts, fresh basil and mint leaves to garnish..

My favourites are the spicy rice noodle soup with satay sauce- spicy, thick with crispy vegetables and noodles (I'm vegetarian, but you could have it with seafood or tofu) with a side of additional satay sauce.  Another delicious and oh so fragrant meal in a bowl!  Next on my list- the crispy egg noodle dish with veggies (or with seafood or tofu) in a sauce to die for!  Crisp fried noodles topped with equally crisp stir fried vegetables. My favourite beverage is the artichoke tea, something different.

On my last visit, I asked Jen about the restaurant's most popular dishes: the spicy lemongrass soup and the House special curry with chicken or seafood.  I'll keep those in mind for my next visit...

Pho Soc Trang is truly a family restaurant.  Jen's parents, Roi and Xuan Ha were born in Vietnam and moved to Toronto 26 years ago.  Daughters Jen and Tam were born there.  The family came to Kelowna in 2010 and opened their first restaurant.  Mom and dad cook traditional, closely guarded Ha family recipes.  Really, mom doesn't part with her recipes, I've tried!  Jen and Tam provide great service and take care of the customers.  At Pho, you become part of the family- be prepared for a heartfelt greeting as you come through the door. And, best of all, be prepared for some amazing, great food!

Pho Soc Trang is located at 1530 Water Street, second floor.  You can visit their website at phosoctrang.com.

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