Pho Anh Huyen Noodle House isn’t much of a looker. The parking lot is sketchy and the interior of the restaurant is dated. It isn’t open on Sundays and it closes daily at 8:00 pm. Despite all its apparent flaws, Pho Anh Huyen Noodle House is one of my favourite restaurants.
I knew that Pho Anh Huyen Noodle House was my sort of place when I witnessed an interaction between a customer and the owner’s son. She picked up her order and informed him that his restaurant was recently reviewed in the Calgary Sun. “Huh?” He mumbled, clearly uninterested. He shrugged his shoulders and responded, “Oh – we don’t really pay attention to that sort of stuff.” The woman looked bewildered at his indifferent demeanor, but I thought it was hilarious.
The first few times that L and I visited, we sampled the sate beef pho, seafood Thai pho, shrimp and pork and shrimp only salad rolls. I preferred the salad rolls with pork and shrimp to the regular shrimp rolls. Both were fresh, but the pork and shrimp rolls had more going on taste and texture wise. The sate beef pho was very good. The soup gives off an aromatic, almost therapeutic steam. The large bowl was filled to the brim with a very generous amount of perfectly cooked noodles, thinly sliced beef and a side of the usual fresh basil, lime and sprouts. I also liked the seafood Thai pho, which was a lighter, clearer, and spicier broth. It was perfect for coddling a cold.
Recently, on the way to L’s father’s place in Bridgeland, we called to order take-out. Based on two Urbanspoon recommendations, I ordered the Pad Thai, the curry vermicelli bowl, and of course, an order of salad rolls. The reviewers weren’t frequent or detailed posters, but I had a feeling the dishes were something special. The chicken curry dish wear liberally sprinkled with chopped basil, which I loved.
The seafood Pad Thai was nothing short of amazing. I wish my version of Pad Thai tasted like this – but then again, I use ketchup so what do I expect? The noodles were a glistening caramel colour, slightly sticky, and they tasted sweet, tart and spicy all at once. The texture was pleasing. The noodles and minced egg were soft, the calamari was tender, and the sprouts, prawns, peanuts and julienned vegetables were crunchy. I was in ecstasy.
The curry chicken vermicelli bowl was twice the size of the Pad Thai, but despite its ominous size, it was a much lighter dish. The chicken and vegetables were covered in a very rich, dry yellow curry. The spices tasted similar to that of the Singapore style noodles you find at Chinese restaurants. The vermicelli noodles are undressed, so you have to toss everything together. Combined with lots of sprouts, this was a very refreshing dish.
At the next get-together I organize for my friends, I plan to order several of dry noodle dishes from Pho Anh Huyen Noodle House. Will I pass it on as my own culinary work? No, but only because no one would believe me.