With the days getting shorter and the weather getting just a tad bit more miserable, we're all in need for a bit of comfort food. There's nothing quite like a rich, steamy bowl of spiced pho with thin and tender beef to rid these pre-winter blues.
Ottawa has been blessed with a rich, Vietnamese community which spearheaded in the nation's capital during and after the Vietnam War. Today, there are plenty of diverse places across the city for genuine Vietnamese cuisine.
Curl up in one of Ottawa's cozy Vietnamese restaurants and order a bowl of pho from any of these places:
1. Ox Head Restaurant // 790 Kanata Avenue
Stellar, flavourful pho just outside the city centre, in Kanata. Pho isn't the main star of the Ox Head, but the restaurant's bowls serve generous amounts of soft beef and fresh herbs in their servings.
2. @36 Pho // 1600 Merivale Road
This atmospheric and spacious restaurant offers arguably some of the best broth in Ottawa. Their other traditional, handmade Vietnamese dishes are also worth trying, especially their famous Hanoi-style grilled pork with vermicelli. The homemade spices are heavenly.
3. Pho 99 // 120 Lebreton Street North
A little hidden gem off Somerset. Try their special (named after the restaurant), which has some of the most well-done flank and tripe included in a rich broth.
4. Pho Bo Ga 2 // 843 Somerset St. West
For the sleepless pho lover, Pho Bo Ga 2 offers daily service from 10am to as late as 5am (on Fridays and Saturdays). We're living in a busy world and Pho Bo Ga 2 understands just that. Sometimes the best pho is eaten at 3 in the morning. If you're really hungry, try the XL size. But when I say hungry I mean really hungry.
5. Saigon Pho // 232 Bank St.
The classic chicken noodle soup with vegetables is the perfect ailment for colds. The prices are slightly higher than the typical pho fare, but are worth the high quality ingredients. Don't forget to top off your meal with their bubble tea.
6. Bien Pho // 5929 Jeanne D'Arc Blvd.
The spicy lemongrass broth at this Orleans favourite is simply to die for. They've been serving Orleans/Blackburn Hamlet for over 15 years and are arguably one of the busiest Vietnamese/Thai restaurants outside of Somerset.
7. Pho Thu Do // 781 Somerset St. West
An unpretentious restaurant with spring rolls that match the high quality of their pho. Each pho serves a hearty amount of noodles, but it's the tripe and tendons are the highlights here. The broth smells stupendous -- you may be smelling your pho longer than eating it.
8. Saigon Boy Noodle House // 648 Somerset St. West
A busy location on Somerset and for good reasons. The broth is favourable and not too salty and the portions are immensely generous for their price (a large bowl can go for as little as $9.95). I recommend adding shrimp to your dish, which are always freshly grilled before being added to the pho.
9. Pho LA Express // 79 Montreal Rd.
A Vanier favourite that serves classic and affordable pho in a restaurant with modern, classy decor. A large bowl can go for $11.00, which is a steal compared to most locations. There's a ton of room for customization here to cater to your desires.
10. Pho Kam Long // 3635 Rivergate Way
An off-the-beaten track location that offers stellar pho that is always worth the extra drive to Riverside. It's everything you expect when it comes to pho, but goes the extra mile when it comes to service and atmosphere.