Pho Kim Tuong
Neighbourhood: West End
Address: 856 Ellice Ave
Though many family-run Vietnamese eateries populate the city’s West End, Pho Kim Tuong sets itself apart with a charismatic attitude, stylish decor, and exquisite flavour. The restaurant’s recently renovated dining room features modern grey brick and warm pendant lighting accented by bamboo and Buddha. Vivacious owner Kiet Tran, loudly fawning over and chatting with her guests, fills the space with positive energy.
Soup and vermicelli bowl options by the dozens, along with several Chinese and Thai dishes, make up a multiple page menu that threatens to overwhelm until Tran or her English-speaking family members step in, guiding the way to flavours that will expand the palate of even seasoned diners.
A fiery-looking heap of panko-crusted, crispy shrimp, tossed with red roasted hot peppers and bright orange shreds of carrot, offers a slight jolt. Toasted peanuts, crispy shallots and bits of fried garlic pack even more punch.
A cool complement, the green mango salad is accentuated by cabbage, carrot, and fresh mint and perfectly tied together by a light sweet and sour dressing.
French influence, often present in Vietnamese cuisine, shows up in the hearty stewed beef, while pho, a dish crafted long before the French colonial period, is also expertly presented. The tapioca style noodle soup, a clear, delightfully simple broth laden with shrimp and thick tapioca flour noodles, is virtually impossible not to slurp.