Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Pho Files: Special Beef Noodle Soup

Special Beef Soup by raise my voice
Special Beef Soup, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

A late lunch of pho was in order yesterday. As I was in the Jasper Avenue area, Doan's was really my only option.

Doan's is quite popular but in my opinion is somewhat overrated. You're paying more for the same kind of food you can get in Chinatown, without much extra quality or portion size. I think it is the atmosphere which sells the place. Doan's has the ambiance of a fine dining restaurant.

All of the soups are grouped together under the same category on the menu, with only one or two basic pho options (as opposed to satay or other kinds of broth or cooking styles). I could only find one pho with beef, and it was the Special Beef Noodle Soup.

What made it special? It had four kinds of beef: medium, well-done, brisket, and beef balls. I would have preferred more of a choice in the matter, as I detest beef balls and they ended up being removed by my soup as soon as possible. Beef balls tend to be very chewy and full of gristle, and I simply cannot handle the texture. These were no exception.

The medium beef was served almost raw, but thankfully cooked quickly. As for the well-done beef - I would have skipped this too, as it is always fatty. Each slice had a huge strip of fat that made me feel like I was playing either doctor or butcher to remove.

Surprisingly, the brisket was the star of the bowl. It was well-done, had a rich flavour, and was reasonably lean. I would have been happy with this as the only kind of meat in the soup.

The portion size was average with a large bowl in most pho establishments, and the broth was rich and flavourful, if not a bit too salty.

Would I have this again? Yes. Would I go out of my way to Doan's for it? No.

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