The plan was to check out the lunch counter at T&T Supermarket but a hundred others had the same idea. Then I spied it across the expansive lot — “Pho Thu Do” — and was instantly intrigued. And puzzled. Was this the same Pho Thu Do as the long running meal-in-a-bowl institution on Somerset? Was this a second Pho Thu Do? The start of a chain? Or was it a totally unrelated Vietnamese restaurant with the same name?
Figuring out all the various pho restaurants in Ottawa has never been straightforward. This one, an original to be sure, had gone from its puny hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown to renovated digs in Chinatown, and seems now to have relocated altogether to West Hunt Club in much bigger and more posh surroundings.
I have asked twice: is this the same Pho Thu Do as the one on Somerset? And the answer is “almost the same, but not the same owners.” Confused yet?
No confusion at all about the wrap and roll platter at the new Pho Thu Do on the T&T campus on Riverside Drive. This was shared by two of us, and utterly satisfying in that roll-up-your-sleeves and get filling (and wrapping and dunking and munching) pleasurable sort of way.
On the platter: crunchy shrimp and succulent charred beef, tenderized in a sweet lemongrass marinade, plus vermicelli noodles, fresh mint and Asian basil, bean sprouts, grated carrot, pickled red onion, and a stack of softened rice paper rounds. It made a healthy, filling, affordable lunch.