Friday, September 30, 2005

#37 at the Pho 99

Pho 99 120 Lebreton Street 232-7289Pho 99 120 Lebreton Street N Ottawa, ON 232-7280

My favourite Vietnamese food is at the Pho 99. I go there two or three times a week and almost always order the #37. [Vermicelli with grilled chicken, imperial roll and salad]. About twice a year, I order the #39 [grilled pork instead of chicken]. Once every couple of years I get a cold and then I'll actually order pho (which is soup).

They used to have a waiter who seemed offended that I only ever ordered the #37. "Same thing," he'd say in a disdainful voice. You might think I was projecting my insecurity, but several times he asked, "why not try something else?" and another time he brought me a #38 (beef) "by mistake". But he eventually seemed to accept that it wasn't just that I'm a narrow-minded non-Vietnamese person, but actually just someone who really, really likes the #37. I think he graduated university because he's not there any more. #37 without sauce

The curent staff seems very comfortable with my predictability. I do occasionally change things up by also ordering a #52 - Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk. Exceptionally delicious. [If you order it, do not, I repeat, do not order a second cup. It will wreck the rest of your day and may put you into tachycardia. The waiters will warn you if you forget my warning, but they can be fooled into thinking you know what you're doing. You don't.]

Here are some reasons that the Pho 99 is the best:

  1. They have chicken as a vermicelli option. Most of the other restaurants don't.
  2. They give you more meat and more vegetables than the other places do.
  3. The imperial roll (which is pretty much a spring roll when served with the vermicelli dishes, and oddly is one of those soft, translucent rice paper rolls with the shrimp when ordered as #1 on the appetizer list) is particularly tasty.
  4. They have excellent hot sauce in jars with little spoons on the tables. (They also have another kind of hot sauce that you might mistake for ketchup because it's in a red squeeze bottle, I find it too sweet.)
  5. They don't have the roll-up dishes (if I want to make my own meal, I eat at home).
  6. It is less than two blocks from my house.

When my #37 arrives: #37 with hot sauce

  1. I cut the the imperial roll with my spoon, then dip the pieces in the vinegary sauce (which should not be confused with the free tea the restaurant provides).
  2. I apply a generous quantity of hot sauce,
  3. pour the vinegary sauce over everything,
  4. mix everything together, and
  5. eat it all up.
  6. If necessary, I use the spoon to finish up the last little bits.

Wow, it's good.


WFKA5M said...

Hey Dave -

You don't know how much I appreciate someone finally explaining Pho to me. Now I have to try it!!

Oh, and ... where/when do I pick up my prize?

David Scrimshaw said...

Hey 5th,

The maybe I'll run into you and have the tricked-out hipster with me isn't working too well. If I don't get it to you by Monday, drop me an email and I'll work out a reliable delivery method.

I should mention that I haven't explained pho (i.e. soup). I only have pho every couple of years. But maybe that's all the explanation you need.

Because every time I go to a Vietnamese restaurant and the person I'm with orders pho while I order vermicelli, the other person always says "I wish I'd ordered the vermicelli."

WFKA5M said...

Well, the whole Pho concept ... Pho is the soup with thick noodles and vegetables isn't it?

Re: the hipster, you probably know where to find me ...