Sunday, February 4, 2007

Pork Soup at a Halal Friendly Restaurant???

Rising for the ashes of Anatolian, the old Turkish lunch spot at Bank and Somerset, comes Pho Bó Ga Trúc, a Vietnamese Noodle House for the downtown lunch crowd.

Bringing a slightly up-scale approach to the traditional Ottawa Pho house, Pho Bó Ga Trúc has an appealing décor with rather large stone tables being the prominent element of the dining area.

With a nod to its mid-eastern predecessor, this Pho diner offers an original take on the noodle house experience and promotes Canadian multicultural ideals by offering Halal Pho and other Halal menu items.

I found this Muslim take on the Vietnamese noodle house quite surprising as when I looked down the menu and came to #34 I found myself confronted with a very non-muslim choice, Hú Tiéu Thap Cam or BBQ Pork Rice Noodle Soup. Hmmm ….. Pork in a restaurant offering Halal options? … something seemed a little incongruous. Maybe they have two separate kitchens? I just know that if I had strongly held beliefs about pigs being the dirt of the earth, I would not be too comfortable eating in a restaurant that had pork on its menu.

However, being neither Muslim nor vegetarian this # 34 seemed like a great option. The soup broth had good flavour and the BBQ pork was a pleasant variation to the beef Pho soups. Hu Tieu soups, however, did not come with the side plate of fresh herbs and bean sprouts and the pork soup seemed more of a traditional Canadian winter soup augmented with cabbage.

Eating this #34 over a lunch hour and with a friend, I was surprised with how busy the restaurant was. At one point all the tables were full and we found ourselves sitting at the end of a group of tables that could accommodate eight. The wait staff were keen to promote the Asian tradition of sitting small groups of people together at one table, which the clientele seemed resistant to. Several times groups would move to other less communal tables, tossing the wait staff into chaos trying to figure out who ordered what and where it should go. I guess the Ottawa lunch crowd is still not ready for the Toronto experience of noodle houses like King Noodle or still have “Memories of Andy Scott” and overheard political conversations.

Pho Bo Ga Truc

275 Bank St.

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