Tonkinese soup is said to come from Nam nh province, about a hundred kilometers from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. It is said to be inspired by the famous pot-au-feu of French cuisine.
The secret of this recipe lies in the mixture of herbs that make up the stock. Specifically, we’re talking beef stock, with shank and marrow, cooked over low heat for at least six hours, with flavors such as cinnamon sticks, ginger, cardamom, cloves, star anise, and grilled onion.
The recipe varies from region to region: in northern Vietnam, the stock is the most important element, while in the south, the garnish comes first. This soup can be served for lunch or dinner as well as dinner and is the emblem of Vietnamese street food as it is possible to find it on every street corner.
A little advice to order it correctly the next time you visit a Vietnamese restaurant, contrary to popular belief, “pho” is pronounced “fire-uh” and not “fo”.
Pho Ngon – 3205, boul. Cremazie E., Montreal
My Vietnamese restaurant tour begins with Pho Ngon, located on Crémazie Est boulevard, the day after a major snow storm. The winter conditions cannot dampen the enthusiasm of the customers, as evidenced by the full parking lot and the queue outside the store. However, the service is very fast. It is less than five minutes between taking the order and the arrival of the starters and soups, despite a full restaurant.
I order an appetizer of shrimp spring rolls which are good but not the best I’ve had.
On the other hand, on the pho side, no disappointment. The broth is really tasty. It tastes a bit too meaty for my taste, but nothing is stopping me from enjoying my soup. The portions of noodles, meat and onions are very generous.
The soup, offered in small, large, and extra-large sizes, will be the cheapest of the three I’ll be testing that week. For the large it only cost me $10.50 which is great value for money.
Small problem when paying: cash is the only accepted method of payment. So, like me, you’ll have to withdraw a few bucks from the small ATM on site to pay your bill if you only have cards with you.
Despite this minor inconvenience, this restaurant is a great discovery and I’ll definitely be back!
My verdict: 8/10
Pho MC Brossard – 8200, bull. Taschereau, No. 1270, Brossard
Towards Brossard for my soup. Apparently, if there’s one to test on the outskirts of Montreal, it’s this one. This restaurant had already been recommended to me, and looking at the various reviews on the internet – there’s nothing lower than 4 out of 5 – I have the confirmation that I must go and check it out.
I wait in line for about five minutes before I can get in. Once seated in the busy restaurant I notice that there is a great diversity on the menu (we mainly offer bubble tea (bubble tea), which is always a plus, in my opinion).
Here there are only two choices for the size of the soup: large or very large. I opt for a large rare beef soup costing me $13. I also order an appetizer of spring rolls with pork and shrimp. They are really delicious, as is the peanut sauce that comes with them.
Again, the service is very fast. The tonkinese soup arrives shortly afterwards and I am charmed from the first spoon. The broth is packed with flavor. Obviously the chef has a recipe with different spices to get such a tasty broth. In addition, the soup is well filled: the amount of meat and noodles is very generous.
Even if the stock cools a little, it remains juicy. It’s really heartbreaking. I even wonder if it’s not the best Tonkinese soup I’ve eaten…
This restaurant is more modern than the others visited; you can pay with the card without any problems!
My verdict: 9.5/10
Pho Bang New York – 1001 Blvd. St. Laurent, Montreal
Last stop: Chinatown in Montreal. I was eager to visit one of the Vietnamese restaurants here, and apparently Pho Bang New York is a must. It is also busy on this Wednesday afternoon.
This is the second time I have eaten at this restaurant. I came there a few months ago and the visit had been quite pleasant and tasty.
My friend and I have the spring rolls and the beef rolls as an appetizer. Nothing very impressive on our plates. I would even say the beef rolls are dry, I would have done without.
No sooner did the sandwiches begin, we got our soups. My rare beef soup came in three sizes: small, large and extra large. I’ll take the big one, which will cost me $13.
At first glance, it looks good and well stocked. A large amount (maybe even a little too much) fresh herbs is on top of the soup. It is less greasy than the others. All ingredients are present in generous amounts. On the other hand, from the first spoonful of broth I notice that it doesn’t taste much. It’s disappointing as it was much better on my first visit. I share my opinion with my friend, who tells me that his soup is frankly not exceptional either.
We do not leave the place without disappointment. Maybe it was a bad day? But you expect consistency if you go to a restaurant more than once.
Again, the restaurant only accepts cash. This time I planned it.
My verdict: 4/10