Fresh, delicious Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai cuisine that reminds you of that last trip to South East Asia is found in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario at Mississauga’s I Love Pho. It perfectly brings back those memories of your last trip to Saigon, Bangkok, or Singapore.
Location: 848 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Menu: The menu, in both Vietnamese and English, features an extensive selection of the best of Asian cuisine. Stir-fried egg or rice noodle pad thai, vermicelli bowls, grilled meat broken rice dishes, and of course pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) rice noodle soup. Not to worry if your pronunciation of the menu is not accurate – you can quickly order using the numbered list. Portion sizes are quite large, and the menu is very vegetarian-friendly.
Also available on the menu are beer, wine, fresh exotic fruit juice concoctions, bubble tea, specialty hot and cold coffees and teas. All meals include jasmine tea served hot or cold (depending on the season).
Thoughts: The restaurant is small with perhaps 30 seats and as a result, expect to wait if you arrive during the mealtime rush. We typically try to get there before 6 pm for dinner since there are so few seats, and even though it’s before our usual dinner hour, the two of us occasionally resort to sharing a larger table for 6 with another couple so that we don’t have to wait. Sharing a table is a common occurrence in many Asian restaurants but thankfully service is fast so, if you decide you prefer to wait and not share, the wait time shouldn’t be too long.
With bright lights, white walls and very little decorating the walls except for the two televisions broadcasting the all-news channel, I Love Pho is loud and bustling even with the sound of the TV on mute. Waiters scurry to and fro serving hungry customers, the whirl of the blender roars as it makes one of the very popular blended fruit drinks and the people slurp and sigh as they eat their noodles.
A few favorites to try:
- Pho (small $7 CDN, Medium $7.50 CDN, Large $8 CDN, extra meat $3 CDN): With a name like I Love Pho, I think it’s a given that you need to try the Pho. With 26 varieties of this noodle soup dish to choose from I suggest the rare beef “Pho Tai”. The beef is sliced thin and perfectly cooked pink, if it’s too rare for your liking allow the meat to cook further in the hot clear broth, a broth that takes hours to make to enhance the deep flavors with notes of cilantro, onion, ginger and fish sauce. The noodles are tender and perfect for slurping, and the additions of crisp bean sprouts, basil leaves and a squeeze of lime at the table adds brightness and freshness to the soup. Slurp, ooh, ahh, and sigh.
- Grilled Beef Ribs with Steamed Broken Rice ($8.50 CDN): Tender, deliciously marinated grilled beef short ribs served on top of steamed broken rice and a cucumber/tomato/pickled carrots and turnip. If you didn’t order a bowl of pho, you’d be happy to know that all rice dishes come with a small bowl of pho broth (without the noodles).
- Grilled Chicken with Steamed Broken Rice ($8 CDN): The same dish as the Grilled Beef Ribs above except with Chicken. The chicken thigh meat is boneless, but the skin is left on to add immense flavor and crispness to the meat. Always juicy, always tender it’s one of our favorite dishes.
- Shrimp Pad Thai ($10.50 CDN): Tender rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp and onions in a spicy sauce topped with a scattering of crunchy crushed peanuts, and crisp, fresh bean sprouts.
Patrons will attest that I Love Pho lives up to its name. The food is fresh, tasty, and the service is always fast and friendly. It’s the perfect pick when you are craving South East Asian cuisine in the west end of the greater Toronto area.
Note: Parking is limited and hard to find in this small strip mall.
Price: Pho – $7 to $8 CDN, Stir Fried Noodles – $10 to $11 CDN, Vermicelli – $7 to $12 CDN, Broken Rice – $7.50 to $12 CDN. Specialty Beverages – $3.50 to $4.50 CDN.
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