Pho Newton is one of my fave spots for a big steaming bowl of the beefy broth and noodles, so it’s going to pain me to throw a bit of shade their way regarding this one experience. I want to emphasize before I go into the gory details that out of the many times I’ve had pho here it’s been consistent quality, and I’d recommend their version of the Vietnamese staple soup wholeheartedly. That being said…
Pho Newton is a family-run outfit with a friendly, homey atmosphere and peaceful ambiance. Conveniently located in King’s Cross shopping center next to Superstore and across from the Costco in Newton, it’s a fairly frequent stop for me on grocery runs on those occasions when I can manage to resist the temptation of a juicy Costco hotdog or three. Costco hotdogs are my personal kryptonite, but a cold-weather pho sesh is a close second. Even the enticing scents wafting from the tandoor at the neighbouring Indian joint can’t sway me when the craving hits.
I started with the Shrimp & Ham salad roll (2 rolls $6.50). Something about seafood and pork, it doesn’t seem like it should work but once it’s in your mouth it’s like they were always meant to be together. Salad rolls on their own are fairly bland by nature but when dipped in that peanut hoisin sauce and washed down with some watery tea a type of edible alchemy takes place and all is made right with the world.
So Pho Newton, despite it’s generic moniker, has a bit more variety than the average Surrey pho restaurant. You can get the one with the pig’s feet, or the one with the poor piggie’s heart and liver mixed with seafood, or the duck & bamboo shoot pho (the first type I ever tried, in a long-closed hole-in-the-wall off Main & Hastings that was blatantly selling drugs pretty much right over the counter. Their pho was pretty addictive too…) .
They also have a stir-fry menu which includes an old fave from my time in Cambodia, beef Luc Lac ($12.50). For me this conjured up tender cubes of beef cooked in a soy sauce-based gravy with a side of fresh tomatoes and cucumber on a bed of crisp lettuce, the beef normally allowed to shine solo to show off the quality of the meat and the flavour of the sauce. Phnom Penh restaurant in Vancouver does an authentic version, so I was hoping I’d found something akin to it here in our own backyard. Nope!
The beef was as tough as a marked-down Walmart throwaway cut, the sauce tasted like it was straight out of a VH bottle, and there was a bunch of uncalled for still-crisp stir-fried veggies in there, including one with a quarter of a sticker still on it. I couldn’t help but wonder where the other three quarters were, but searching my plate I came up empty-forked so I proceeded to gnaw through about half of the portion until I decided to give up before TMJ set in. It was like eating a white man’s pale imitation of a mall food court Chinese joint’s take on Viet food.
I can pretty much guarantee you a pleasant dining experience if you stick with the standard pho at Pho Newton, but stray off the beaten path and it’s a clear-cut case of buyer beware.