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!

Logo 1

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover: Or That Time I Ate At Lan’s

118th Ave in Edmonton has a notorious reputation for being that “sketchy” area your mom has warned you about. Which sucks because I know a fair amount of people that live in that area and there’s a TON of hidden shops and restaurants down there that not a lot of people know about. So after years of being told to visit this restaurant called Lan’s Asian Grill, located at 11826 103 St NW, I was weary of taking the trip down there…Even though I’ve been going to NAIT (which is literally down the road) for the past four years.

located-in-a-strip-mall
Source: Trip Advisor

But after years of avoiding the place, I finally decided to give Lan’s a shot…

I remember the day I went to Lan’s for the first time like it was yesterday (it actually happened a week or two ago). I woke up early (and by early i mean 5:30 AM) to see a screening of Spectre with a couple of friends, but after the screening we needed a place to chow down. I recommended dim sum, but my companions recommended we head to Lan’s. As soon as they brought up Lan’s I immediately thought, “Dammit I’m really not in the mood for a new place…Scratch that, my BODY isn’t in the mood for a new place.” This was mostly due to fact that I had to wake up at 5:30 AM and drive to the Southside for a (mostly) mediocre James Bond movie that waspoorlywrittenandwastedChristophWaltzasavillain*sigh* /rant over…Sorry about that, I get REALLY upset thinking about that movie.

What I was trying to say was that I just wasn’t having a decent morning (although I did get to hang out with some great company mind you). But it was 2 against 1 and I thought, “oh what the hell. Let’s try Lan’s.” So as we drove to the restaurant, I wanted to get some information on Lan’s to prepare my body and from what my friends told me due to the fact that the friends I was hanging out with have been regulars at Lan’s. What I’ve heard from them was nothing but good things:

  • The food is AMAZING
  • Pad thai is authentic (okay you have my interest)
  • The service is SUPER friendly
  • The manager, Tom, makes an effort to remember your name (keep this one in mind for later)
  • And they serve drunken noodles (okay now you have my attention)
    • (For those of you who have never had drunken noodles, order up a plate and thank me later.)

So I pulled up to parking lot in front of Lan’s and took a look at the exterior. I’m going to go ahead and say that it is REALLY EASY to miss this place. I mean the stores located in the immediate vicinity don’t exactly scream “classy” with the Dollarama and the Value Village drawing your attention over the other stores. I wouldn’t blame a person for barely noticing the stores in this lot because it’s located on 118th Ave. But when we walked into the restaurant, I didn’t see a run down dive, instead I was treated to a clean, well-lit, surprisingly cozy restaurant.


One of the things that definitely caught my eye walking in was a sign that emphasized the fact they they believe in using local, fresh ingredients. YES. PLEASE.It’s one thing to provide authentic dishes, but to see that you’re not cutting corners in terms of the quality of ingredients? That’s a solid win in my books.

So I haven’t even ordered my food yet and I’m already impressed by Lan’s. Looking at the menu, you have what one would normally come to expect from a typical Thai restaurant as well as some other additions as well:

  • Pad Thai
  • Tom Yum Soup
  • Thai Green Curry
  • Thai Red Curry
  • Drunken Noodles
  • Tom Yum Fried Rice
  • Savoury Steak Bites

When I walked up to order my meal, I was greeted by a fellow named Tom, who happened to be the manager of the restaurant. What stuck out while I ordered my meal is the level of genuine service and attitude I received from Tom. You can tell he’s really happy to see customers try the food and have a good time. I ended up ordering some pad thai with a mild level of spice and my friends ordered up a plate of the steak bites and pad thai.

After dropping my name (I really wanted to see if he remembered my name when I leave) and taking a seat, I began to soak in the scenery. Like I said, the overall interior atmosphere of Lan’s is cozy and well-lit. Numerous accolades take up a portion of the wall beside the cash register to give you a sense of what you’re in for and to really emphasize that fact that they can talk the talk AND walk the walk at the same time.

Then my food arrived…In a timely manner too!


My food was served in a small plastic container which kind of made me go “umm what?” because I thought I ordered my meal to stay. I honestly can’t remember given my state of mind at the time, so for all I know I could’ve said I wanted my stuff to go. But then I noticed the plastic lid had a label saying, “Not fake or fancy. Just a whole lot of fresh food & tasty. Lan’s Asian Grill. Casual Restaurant Fare.” At that point I understood what I was in for and dismissed the fact it wasn’t served on a plate (now that I think about it, that is a SUPER trivial thing to pick on…Mostly due to the fact that there’s next to nothing negative I can say about this place) . One of the things I appreciate from Lan’s is that they want to focus on the quality of the food, over everything else. If they can serve up some high quality dishes for you, you will end up having a positive experience overall. Like their said, “it’s all about the food anyways…” So kudos to Lan’s for that!


At this point, you’re probably wondering: How was the food?? I’m gonna be blunt with you guys, it was f***ing delicious. My pad thai had just the right amount of sauce and everything, from the noodles, to the vegetables and chicken, was cooked to perfection. My dish wasn’t swimming in a sea of peanuts, but had just the right amount to compliment the rest of the flavours in the dish. For the $14 I paid for the dish, I can’t help but feel as though I got more than I paid for. I was full by the time I finished my plate and the pad thai itself was flavourful. When I finished up, I immediately began to regret not getting another dish on the menu. I was hungry for more. That’s how amazing the food was.

When we got up to leave, Tom greeted us on the way out and actually called me out by name, which was a really nice way to end off a delicious lunch.

Overall, this place is fantastic. If you’re a fan of Thai food, please show this place some love. They’re very accommodating for people with different diets (ex. gluten free, vegan/vegetarian, etc.) and I can guarantee that there’s something for everybody on the menu. The service is classy and they make you feel welcome from the minute you walk through their door. Sure the place is located in a sketchy area, but don’t let that scare you away from Lan’s. That restaurant is anything but sketchy and I have nothing but praise for this place. So if you’re in the area (especially to all of my NAIT friends), show this place some love.

With that said, food DEFINITELY lives here.

PS I visited Lan’s a couple of days ago and Tom actually remembered my name. I have now made it my mission to try out the Tom Yum Fried Rice because Tom describes it as “legendary”…The food I ordered was also still f***ing amazing by the way.