Pho Wars Episode One: “Pho”-tam Menace

I take Star Wars and pho very seriously. Hence the awesome title for this post. Also, I found that I tend to get into HEATED arguments with regards to Star Wars and pho…Oh god, especially over pho…

Shout out to Linda Hoang (Follow her on Twitter @lindork) for a very…spirited discussion about pho in Edmonton

If you were wondering how my talk with Linda ended, we mutually agreed to disagree with each other. But at that point, I started to think: There are so many place to grab a bowl of pho in Edmonton, but which place offers the best? It was at that moment I figured I go out and find that place! So without much further adieu, let’s talk about a small noodle house near the UofA called “Phobulous.” (8701 109 St NW)

I discovered this place a few years back when I used to go school at the UofA. It was in the middle of winter and after a lengthy “study session” at Remedy (back then, study sessions comprised of me highlighting my entire textbook), I started hankering for a warm bowl of soup and noticed that there was this small restaurant with a funky name called “Phobulous” next door. At this point in my life, I wasn’t as stoked as I am today to try new food, but I was knocking back several cups of coffee back at Remedy (hey man, highlighting an entire textbook is hard work) and I literally told myself, “screw it, what’s the worse that could happen?”

My memory of my first visit here was a positive one, but to be honest I don’t remember much of that first visit other than it being a positive experience. So let’s jump cut to present day for the sake of this post and let me tell you about my most recent venture to the restaurant. To paint a picture for you guys: My girlfriend and I are SUPER hungry after shopping around at the Butterdome Craft Sale so we decided to head to Phobulous because it was super cold and I always remembered Phobulous as a good place to chow down. There picture painted, now onto the review…

First off, let’s talk about the building itself: It is REALLY easy to miss this place…

Source: Google Images

Now while the place is awkwardly tucked away in the side of the building, inside looks aesthetically pleasing! It’s well lit and well furnished for a place that some might consider to be a “hole in the wall”. Although some might feel a little cramped inside, but that’s mostly due to the size of the building itself and the owners other place really make it work. Personally, I think the size of the building really adds charm to the place and believe me when I say that this place is a ridiculous amount of charm. Seriously, just look at the fabulous (HAH see what I did there?) name of the place. One of my favourite things about the place is their menu:

Best. Menu. Ever.

The owners of the place do a lot to help you familiarize newcomers to pho and provide a lot of information about what pho really is so people know what they’re in for. This adds a really fun personality to the place which honestly a really nice touch and kind of enhances the experience there.

So after browsing through the menu, my girlfriend opted for the Pho Real  and I settled for the Mother Pho with a plate of spring rolls to share, because I love me some tripe and the spring rolls are actually really good here. In terms of the service, it was great as far as I could tell. We didn’t have to wait too long (which was a bonus because people started pouring in after we arrived) for our food and the staff was super friendly.

But how was the pho? I gotta be honest, it was good. Not great. But just good. Visually, the pho looked great:

Beautiful.
Beautiful.

They gave you a hearty portion of protein and noodles for what you paid for and the broth tasted good. Again, not great, just good. I honestly thought that the broth just wasn’t as flavourful as other places I’ve been to in the city and it doesn’t help that the soup did cost a little more that other places as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that the pho was still delicious overall! I’ve had terrible pho in the past and the pho I had here doesn’t come close to being remotely bad. It’s just that it if given the choice between this or pho I’ve had at places I tend to frequent more, I would choose the latter.

But with that said. Phobulous is definitely a place I would go to if I was in the area and needed a warm bowl of soup. It’s a super charming  place and the food won’t disappoint you. If you’re hankering for something other than pho here, I would definitely recommend the vermicelli bowls and their Bo Kho, which is this amazing beef stew with a bolder taste and really hearty broth. Overall I dig this place. Now while it’s not the best in terms of pho (we’ll get to that place in due time my friends), Phobulous does offer good food, good service and is definitely a place you need to check out if you’re in the university area because food definitely lives here!

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Quick Bites: My Fancy McDonalds…Feast?

I have a confession to make guys and gals: I ate at McDonalds a couple of weeks ago…You may proceed to judge me…Okay stop judging me, we all make mistakes okay?

If you haven’t stepped into a McDonalds lately you’ll notice that they’ve started to update the look of a large portion of their restaurants. And by that I mean they’re starting to look a little more “upscale”.

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What you can normally expect to see inside your local McDonalds
But what surprised me the most was not the new interior design, but their new menu. No, they haven’t made changes to classic items such as the Big Mac or McNuggets, but they added an option to create your own burger…Complete with services you would normally expect from an actual restaurant.

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Labelled as the “Create Your Taste” option on the menu, McDonalds gives you the ability to build your burger from the bun, right down to the veggies and other condiments. These options range from “ciabatta” to a “lettuce wrap” for the bun, to adding “grilled mushrooms” or a “large pineapple slice” (excuse the quotation marks. I feel as though you need to really include those when describing ANY ingredient from McDonalds) to your burger.

Sounds fancy right? As I was ordering this I had to constantly ask myself: Am I actually ordering this from McDonalds? Legit. It was the weirdest feeling ordering up a burger on a “brioche bun” with “jalapeños”, “colby jack cheese”, “spinach”, and “Big Mac Special Sauce”. Adding the Big Mac Sauce made the burger sound god awful on paper (my body hated me after) but damn for a burger I ordered from McDonalds, it wasn’t…completely terrible (that’s a good thing…I think).

But having a half-decent custom burger wasn’t even the weird bit about that meal. I was more stunned by the fact that all of my food (and drinks) was brought to my table by a server. It was the weirdest experience for me because McDonalds is the last place I expect this level of service. I mean the server asked what kind of drinks my buddy and I wanted and delivered them to our table. The rest of the meal was all served on a wooden board with a fresh batch of “fries” served in a small metal basket. When we got our meal, I shot my buddy the weirdest look. I couldn’t help but ask “Is this actually happening? Am I supposed to tip?” This meal wasn’t cheap either. Between the two of us, the entire thing costed a cool $25 for two meals.

After the meal the marketing side of me couldn’t hep but think, “What is McDonalds trying to get at?” I mean, if they’re aiming to improve their fast food image, it’s a step in the right direction…Sorta. It will be hard to shake off the reputation of being the #1 place you go to after a night of drinking with friends (or by yourself. It’s okay I won’t judge). But this can change once people start to realize they can now dish out $14 for a meal and receive full service…after a night of drinking with friends (or by yourself).

If this “Create Your Taste”becomes a big hit, I can kind of see a slightly brighter (and greasier) future for McDonalds. Will the food become healthier? Oh hell no, don’t be silly. Will McDonalds, or other fast food establishments, be moving towards a more traditional/high class full service restaurant? Maybe. We’ll wait and see…Or you could just click on the picture below.

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A part of me really wishes Demolition Man becomes a reality.