Every time someone asks me where the best pho is in Winnipeg, I always tell them the same place. This place is Phuong Nam Restaurant along William Avenue. I’ve been to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, etc… and every bowl of pho I’ve sampled could not even compare to Phuong Nam restaurant. My palette tries really hard to find a place that serves a better bowl of Vietnamese noodles, but it is always defeated and comes back to Phuong Nam. When I want to take my friends somewhere new, I take them here—and they fall in love as ardently as I do with the noodles. Whether I want to take my parents out for dinner, I know they won’t hesitate to come here.
[flickr style=” border:none; padding:4px; border:1px solid #BDBDBD; float:right; margin-left:5px;”]photo:3789219212[/flickr]I’ve tried different pho dishes, all of them delicious. The broth is made of magic, I swear! The noodles are just the right consistency—and you can even decide if you want rice or egg noodles. Just specify! The best of all, no matter what size of noodles you order, you will always get a generous heap of meat. I recommend number 25 on the menu, which is a bowl of beef pho. (Pho tai) with tripe, beef balls and rare pieces of meat. It is generously garnished with coriander and onions to make a perfect crunch. If you feel like having something spicy, but just as good, try number 31. It’s the same bells and whistles as number 25, but with a spicy kick.
[flickr style=” border:none; padding:4px; border:1px solid #BDBDBD; float:right; margin-left:5px;”]photo:3788408415[/flickr]If you’re not feeling in the mood for some noodles, perhaps you’d like to try some of their summer rolls (goi cuon). It’s four delicious rolls wrapped in a rice paper wrapper with shrimp, lettuce and vermicelli noodles. If one wanted a light lunch, you could order this. It’s not extremely filling, but just enough. It comes with a hoisin-peanut sauce for dipping. Or perhaps you’re in a mood for rice? Look no further, as they have an extensive selection of Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. There’s LOTS of pho dishes, rice dishes and vermicelli noodle dishes. One of the highlights of the rice dishes I’ve personally been able to try was their steamed white rice, with five-spice laced fried chicken. It was fried just right, the chicken, nice and crispy on the outside and unbelievably juicy on the inside. If you’re not a noodle person, try this.
[flickr style=” border:none; padding:4px; border:1px solid #BDBDBD; float:right; margin-left:5px;”]photo:3788408565[/flickr]Some people go to Vietnamese restaurants for pho, but there’s others that come for bun thit nuong, or vermicelli noodle bowls. Most of these bowls consist of vermicelli noodles, steamed egg patty, vegetables, meat and an egg roll. They are all mixed inside and have usually peanuts in them. The diner gets a side of nuoc nam, a fish sauce they can put inside the dish to season it. As most of the dishes here, the bun thit nuong here is no exception to it’s excellence. At the end of your meal, theres little selection for a dessert, but there are various fruit shakes and a Vietnamese coffee—which is black coffee with condensed milk. You may enjoy it hot or iced, but either way is good. The way it is preparing for you is a spectacle in itself.
This place does not disappoint most, that’s for sure. The only thing I would have to complain is that it is so darn busy during dinner and prime lunch hours—and especially the weekends. It’s location near the Health Sciences Centre make it a prime location. It can get REALLY packed, and sometimes we’ve had to wait 25 minutes to almost an hour for our food, depending on the amount of people in the restaurant itself. The service is attentive, and they usually send you a pitcher of water so you do not have to ask every single time for water. The best thing about this restaurant, aside the food, is the prices. I’ve not seen dishes steep over $14. An average noodle dish, a size medium, would cost around 7 dollars. That is a great value for your dollar, because even a medium fills up a person.
Don’t let the location near the North-Central end of the city scare you. Try this out, and you’ll see… you’ll be hooked like I am, too.
Phuong Nam Restaurant
883 William Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0Z5
All photographs in this article is taken by Gazel Ma, and products are from the respective restaurant(s) mentioned.