Warm up to Montréal’s top pho spots
Tonkinese soup, better known as pho, is a beef bone soup that’s been simmered for hours and mixed with a blend of ingredients like ginger, onions, clove and cinnamon. Most often it’s served with noodles, tender slices of beef and a garnish of fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil and lime juice. Think of it as a warm hug from your Vietnamese mother in a bowl.
With so many great spots for pho in Montréal, it’s quite possible to go on a city-wide gastronomic noodle tour. But to save you the time and stomach real estate, here is a rundown of some of the best places for pho, no matter which Montréal neighbourhood you’re in.
Restaurant Nam Quan
This literal hole in the wall— but one of the best joints in the city—operates from the basement of a single home dwelling. Quaint and cozy, they start serving tables at 10 a.m. My noodle soup of choice is dac biet pho, usually listed as the house specialty. It’s served with slices of brisket, rare flank steak, tendon and tripe.
Restaurant Pho Duy-Anh
Restaurant Ho Guom
This spot features a wide variety pho from rare beef to seafood, but the pro move is going for their signature specialty, the chicken Tonkinese soup with lemon leaf. Aromatic and flavourful, it’s perfect if you’re feeling under the weather.
Uptown - Côte-des-Neiges
Restaurant Nguyen Phi
Restaurant Nguyen Phi is one of my favorites. Like most other places, the sizing system is a bit strange. Their pho comes in either a “medium,” “large” or “extra-large” bowl. I’ve given up trying to rationalize it—and quickly forget about it as soon as the soup touches my lips. Nguyen Phi shreds their tripe really fine, adding terrific texture and crunch to each chewy mouthful of noodles. Their grilled chicken pho is also fantastic.
Pho Lien is also a happening soup house just up the hill. It’s the go-to spot for hospital staffers (the Jewish General is just across the street) and university students looking for a quick bite that won’t break the bank. Toothsome rice noodles swimming in crystal-clear broth deep in flavour are key ingredients of its success and popularity.
Restaurant Sen Vang
Seng Vang has a small and concise menu that does just a handful of dishes and does them extremely well. They’re known for having the ever popular “bún bò huê”. While only offered on Vietnamese menus on weekends (because of the laborious cooking process), Sen Vang offers this soup daily.
Restaurant Hoai Huong
This eatery is known for a variety of specialty dishes like bird’s nest fried noodles, Vietnamese crepe served with chicken, shrimp and fresh herbs as well as beef rolls in vine leaves. Be sure to try their “Hoai Huong soup special”, a noodle soup served with breaded shrimp and pork.
Restaurant Pho Tay Ho
If a pho craving should strike you in the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie borough, Restaurant Pho Tay Ho can sate it. Instead of dac biet, their specialty here is chicken pho, which comes with generous slices of poached chicken in an aromatic chicken bone soup. Another option comes with both chicken and beef in the same bowl.
Pho Mymy is Montréal’s own Vietnamese restaurant chain. With multiple locations, their growing popularity attests to the consistent quality of their food and preparation. Bún bò huê available daily.
On the Plateau, check out Restaurant Hà, a Vietnamese street corner watering hole that serves Bia Hoi and a great southeast Asia-inspired menu. They don’t necessarily specialize in Tonkinese soup, but they do serve a delectable beef pho—it’s the only type on their menu. The deep broth is accented by aromatic flavours and is served with raw slices of ribeye over thick rice noodles.
“Den” means “black” in Vietnamese, like a “black sheep” – the one that stands out. This chic Vietnamese restaurant in Little Italy is a popular spot for cocktails and snacks, and isn’t your typical noodle shop. The signature pho is Mama Vu’s secret recipe—as are most of the menu offerings.
Located on the Plateau, Pho Rachel satiates noodle cravings with copious amounts of rice vermicelli swimming in your choice of chicken, beef, spicy beef and vegetable broths.
Pho Bang New York
Pho Bang New York is your best option in the downtown/Chinatown area. Their soup is rich in earthy spices and highlighted by the generous greenery of basil, scallions and cilantro. Large communal dining tables add to the intimacy as you devour your steamy bowl of noodle soup. The traditional and hearty dac biet hits the spot after a day of walking through Chinatown or the Old Port.
My-Canh offers classic Vietnamese dishes but it’s their specialty noodles that stands out. A visit here isn’t complete unless you slurp their pork and seafood soup or their delicious “Bún Mam”—rice vermicelli soup with fermented fish.
Jason Lee, blogger
Jason is a food eater and picture taker. As the blogger behind Shut Up and Eat, he covers everything food, from recipes to reviews. Jason has vowed that he will not stop until he has officially eaten his way across Montréal. It’s a big claim, and it’s one he’s making.