My all time favorite cuisine is Vietnamese food, specifically beef satay soup. In honor of National Soup Month I have complied a list of the best beef satay soups, aka pho, in Calgary according to me. I have narrowed it down to five, although this was difficult, but there are a few more that need to be mentioned so I will get to that later.
I have a strong love for Oriental Phoenix as I have been eating here since I was around 12 years old. The beef satay soup here is my all time favorite because it is the perfect broth in flavour, spiciness, and thickness. It doesn’t have much of the peanut flavour, but I am not a huge fan when pho broth is over powered by peanut sauce (if you like this check out Bow River Vietnamese Restaurant). My favorite location is off of 58th Avenue SE and Centre Street S. It is a family owned and operated restaurant so the service is always top notch and the food is always fresh. They also have the best vietnamese iced coffee in the city hands down!
Pho Dau Bo was recommended to me by a friend who had recently moved from Calgary to Edmonton, so when I got home from my visit I went to check it out and I was not let down. It was packed full of people the first time I went and has been busy every other time I have been as well, so you know it has got to be good. This is the newest to me vietnamese restaurant I have tried that has become one of my absolute favorites. Although you won’t find the most impressive service at Pho Dau Bo, the restaurant makes up for it in the quality and freshness of their food. Their beef satay soup has just a slight hint of peanut sauce but is not over bearing and the shrimp salad rolls are never anything but delectable. I’m also a huge fan of their dish ware, they had me at green bowls.
3. Pho Daddy
Pho Daddy follows a “fast food” style of restaurant versus a typical sit down restaurant as you order at the counter, pick what you would like, and then take your seat. The broth for their soup took the owner, Jimmy, over a year to perfect. He also owns the donair, Jimmy’s on 4th, shop attached to Pho Daddy and my favorite donair shop in the city, Jimmy’s A&A. It was interesting that he would take a shot at vietnamese food but he totally nailed it. The broth is vegetarian and you can add what you would like to your soup just like you would add toppings to your sandwich at Subway. It is a cool take on pho and the broth at Pho Daddy simply can’t be beat. It is savory yet sweet and you can adjust the spiciness to your own desire. I love this place and the new concept it has introduced, vietnamese fast food.
Tried and true you can’t go wrong with Minas spicy beef satay noodle soup. It is consistently good, the perfect amount of spiciness, and the perfect proportion of meat to noodles. The broth is nothing but bang on every time and this is probably the vietnamese restaurant that I visit and order from most often. I prefer to order take out or delivery from Minas simply because it is easy to access, as it is located in Avenida Mall, and the service while dining in isn’t always great. The spicy beef satay soup, spring rolls, and the shrimp salad rolls have yet to disappoint me.
A friend introduced me to Bolsa a few years ago. I was hesitant at first as there had been some gang activity around the restaurant that made headlines a year before but he raved about the place so I had to try it. Everything I have tried at Bolsa has been nothing but superb. The spicy beef satay soup here definitely has more of a kick than some other places so if you’re looking for spice Bolsa is the place. It is often very busy, so it is another place you will want to go before noon to beat the rush, and the service is always very good.
Although these are my top 5, I would be doing everyone a disservice if I didn’t give honorable mention to Saigon Maxim and Pho Van, which are two other very good vietnamese restaurants in Calgary. Do you have a favorite that I have not mentioned? Let me know! I love trying new places!