...Pho Kim (Calgary)

Overall Rating: 8/10
Food:  8.5/10
Service: 9/10
Ambiance: 6/10

Location: 1511 Centre B St NW
Pho Kim on Urbanspoon

Pho is one of those rare food cravings that don't make you feel bad after eating it (unlike that philo-pastry-whipped-cream thing I just had after dinner).  Not a week goes by when we don't consider dropping by a local Vietnamese establishment for that steaming mixture of beefy broth infused with cilantro, thai basil, lime and onion.  More often than not, we end up at Pho Kim, a centrally located restaurant conveniently close to a few surrounding Asian supermarkets. 

Pho Kim's menu offers the standard Vietnamese fare: spring rolls, salad rolls, grilled meat on rice/rice vermicelli and variations of rare beef, brisket, tripe and beef balls in noodle soup.  A few dishes feature seafood, usually grilled shrimp or squid.  Our favourite is the combination of rare beef, brisket and tripe noodle soup, a.k.a. number 8. 

In our opinion, what makes Pho Kim's noodle soups better than any others that we've had is their broth.  The broth is rich in beefy flavour and has a depth that can't be replicated using MSG "pho" beef cubes alone (we've tried!).  Despite the fact that in the past few years there is less meat served in the noodle soups, the quality of the meat has not changed.  The slices of rare beef and brisket are tender and rich in flavour, while the tripe offer a chewy, bordering crunchy, texture.  The crisp, fresh bean sprouts balance the perfectly cooked rice noodles. 

Another favourite is number 24a- rice vermicelli with spring rolls and grilled pork.  The combination of pork rind, rice vermicelli, sliced carrots, lettuce and bean sprouts absorb just enough of the spicy fish sauce without getting too soggy. 

A great appetizer are the salad rolls, which have never dissapointed with the fresh filling of shrimp, lettuce, sliced carrots and rice vermicelli.  They are served along with a dip made of hoisin sauce, chilli paste and peanuts. 

Service is fast, efficient and very friendly.  Bathrooms are small with dubious lighting but we're not there for the restrooms anyway.  We usually walk out immensely satisfied, feeling like we can go another two or three weeks without another visit, but the thing about pho cravings is they are not easily suppressed and we end up going the following week.