Pho & Bun: Edmonton’s Fab Pho

The debate of where to go for the best pho in Edmonton is a hot and steamy one. But my twenty year quest to find a Vietnamese noodle house—one that could hold a candle to my beloved but long-defunct Vientiane on 107th Avenue—has finally come to an end. I found the finest pho—not in Chinatown, but in Forest Heights, across from the First Filipino Alliance Church—at a place called Pho & Bun. Hallelujah!

When I first walked in, I couldn’t help but react to the wall colour, a neon-pumpkin orange and the same colour of walls in the past two houses I’ve bought. I take this as a sign that the Pho & Bun and I are meant for each other.

The second thing I notice is how clean the place is. I am seated and given a menu by Tina Hoang, who owns the restaurant with her husband Andy. I peruse the menu but know that I will order what I’ve been ordering at pho houses for twenty years: beef sate noodle soup, and salad rolls.

The salad rolls include cucumbers, good sized shrimp and mint (so many don’t, and I’m not sure why because a little piece of mint adds so much flavour). All in all, a very good roll.

But the soup. Oh, the soup. As soon as it arrives, a whole bunch of aromatic goodness wafts up from the clear beefy broth. Star anise, a hint of cinnamon, wow. Each spoonful delivers layers and layers of flavour. I finish that soup right down to the last noodle. Not because I am still hungry, but because it tastes so good!

In fact, I am so impressed that I return the next day with my daughter. At 17 she is a pho pro, having accompanied me on my noodle quest for most of her life. She’s got the pho cred and the palate required to be a good judge.

Along with an order of meat-filled spring rolls, I opt for #14: beef & pork spicy pho while Erin orders #21: medium rare beef pho. It takes a lot to sway me from ordering the sate soup, but I am curious to see if other soups are as good as what I had the day before.
While we wait, Tina’s husband, Andy, patiently answers my questions. He and Tina came to Canada when they were 19 years old and worked for a man who owned three Subway stores. They stayed with him for 17 years and helped him open and run 17 more stores. It became clear to the Hoangs that serving up fresh food and keeping the restaurant and equipment spotless were key factors in running a successful business.
At the Pho & Bun, chicken broth is made from whole chickens, not from a box of carcass bones that have been sitting who knows where for who knows how long. Tina and Andy shop for meat and produce every day and pay a higher price for the best beef bones which they simmer for 10 hours, adding nothing but salt and sugar to the broth. The flavour that comes from the bones is amazing. It is only after the broth has simmered that they add chilies, herbs and spices (ordered monthly from Vietnam) for the required dishes.

Our soups arrive. The first thing my daughter comments on is the aroma of the broth. The second thing she says is “this is definitely the best pho I’ve ever had.” She finishes the whole bowl—a first for her. I know the feeling, kid… I know. My pho scores as high as the sate I had the day before—fragrant broth, tender beef and pork, just the right spice. I’m already looking forward to coming back on the weekend with the whole family.
The pride that the Hoangs have in their restaurant is evident and makes itself known in the flavour and the quality of the food, two reasons why 80% of the patrons are return customers. A bowl of soup costs $8.50; perhaps a little higher than what you might pay in other pho places, but take it from me—a pho fanatic who has searched 20 years for a noodle house that is worth returning to—this pho is a beautiful find!

Pho & Bun on Urbanspoon

Author: Twyla Campbell

World-wide wanderer, CBC Edmonton AM Restaurant Reviewer, Member of Edmonton’s Slow Food convivium, oenophile, epicurean explorer and a freelance writer whose works have appeared in several magazines and newspapers including More, Above & Beyond, Avenue (Edmonton), Up Here, Northern Flyer, Opulence, City Palate, the Edible Prairie Journal, The Edmonton Journal, Slow Food Canada, Lifestyle Alberta, and on Slow Food Edmonton’s website. Grant MacEwan University (Professional Writing Program) Bachelor of Applied Communications Degree (in progress). I’m a Tweeter @wanderwoman10

9 thoughts on “Pho & Bun: Edmonton’s Fab Pho

  1. I agree…and I consider myself a Pho Addicto. The best Pho so far in Edmonton…and no MSG!!!!

    You should now venture out to Spruce Grove with your daughter and try Pho Thang Long in the Mall (where the old Post Office used to be)

    I have to say that it is the best I’ve tried to date.

  2. I will gladly pick up the gauntlet Matt. I have pho at least 4 times a month…this week I will come out to Spruce Grove and try out the Pho Thang Long, thanks for the tip!

  3. What a terrible restaurant to have to right next door too. In the summer with the windows open, the smell floats by, and my stomach pulls me over. Their Bun is awesome and everyone loves it. And no, they are not open at 3am – I’ve checked several times.

  4. Oh, what a horrible burden you have living next to the Pho & Bun–the burden being UNABLE to access it at 3 a.m., that is! I envy you; It takes me 10 minutes to drive from my place to the P&B…if I lived any closer I’d be there twice a day. What I like about the P&B is the pride and care that Tina & Andy take in the selection of ingredients and how adamant they are about their food being homemade.

    I just came back from Ottawa, a city that has an incredible amount of good restaurants, and the first thing I did when I got to Edmonton was drive straight to P&B for the beef sate soup. It was like coming home to Mom. 🙂

  5. I heard you on the radio talking about Pho and the craving never stops since morning. Terrible thing you did to me 🙂

    I love Pho since the first spoon. I have been trying to eat, cook, talk about it ever since. I have recently hawking this new place called Pho Du ( and I have to say that it offers absolutely the highest quality bowl of Pho anywhere. Oh! the aroma, the colours, the TASTE! This place hits the spot every week for me. The owners are certainly passionate about their crafts since the menu contains only Pho and Bun which are the thing to die for. Enough said, try it for yourself.

  6. Thanks for the tip! Good to know there’s a place on the northwest side if I can’t make it back to Tina and Andy’s 🙂 I’ll give it a try if I find myself way over there!

  7. Definately will cure your pho fix for a little while but you havent lived till you try Paogolac south just off 51 ave.. Pho n bun is ok but ive bin to a few other spots that will blow them sky high out of the water.. i dont think the kids in the back of pho n bun put the effort into it like they could.. I have pho at least 3 times a week..

  8. Hello FatBoyFoodCritic…thx for the comment!

    Pho is such a personal thing, isn’t it? Pho from one restaurant can vary greatly from another depending on where in Vietnam the creators of that pho come from. North style or south style? Even within those regions, styles vary from one village to another.

    I used to go to south Pagolac often but stopped when they started to get a little “hit and miss” with their quality (that was years ago). I prefer the broth at Pho & Bun but hit up the Pagolac on 97 street when I need a fix downtown. Definitely my #2 in the city.

    Ask any pho lover where their favorite pho place is in Edmonton, and you will get a varied response like none you’ve seen before. And that’s good news for Edmonton to have such diversity and options in the wonderful world of pho.

  9. I’m a bit behind the times here, but am happy to see the shout-out to my neighborhood Pho-shop (well, technically I’m in Holyrood, but still just a few blocks away). Was just there last night, even! Great Pho, among other deliciousness like the salad rolls and vermicelli bowls.

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