By Sara Wong, SFU Student
There is nothing better on a cold, misty day than a hot bowl of noodle soup — at least in my opinion. Since there are a lot of rainy days on Burnaby Mountain, Pho 99 is definitely a restaurant I will be coming back to.
When I walked in at around 11:15 am, the restaurant was empty, save for one other customer. My friend and I picked a booth by the window, which gave us plenty of room to lay down our jackets and backpacks. Service was quick and our food arrived in what felt like no time. The restaurant was a bit drafty, but once the food arrived I warmed up considerably.
I ordered my go-to pho dish: a small beef ball noodle soup. What I liked most about it was the broth. I appreciated how clear the broth was. Often times, pho broth is too oily or heavily laden with MSG, which makes the dish taste too salty. Neither was the case at Pho 99. The noodles were thinner than I expected, but still good. Unfortunately, some of the beef balls were hard to chew, and I wasn’t a fan of the red onions floating around. They did not overpower the dish like I worried they would, but they still felt out of place. The accompanying bean sprouts, jalapeño peppers, and Thai basil did not taste the freshest, but they added the flavour and texture contrast I desired.
To sum up everything I said about the pho dish, it wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it definitely wasn’t the worst. Given its price point ($8), I was satisfied with what I got. I’m interested in seeing if their other dishes (i.e. not pho) taste any better. Besides noodle soup, Pho 99 offers appetizers such as spring and salad rolls, along with vermicelli and rice plates. Their drink menu also looks promising; get your caffeine fix with a Vietnamese coffee (hot or iced) or order a fruit smoothie if you’re looking for something refreshing. Also, for all the vegetarians out there, you’re in luck! Pho 99 serves a vegetable-only pho as well.
For my first time visiting Pho 99 on Burnaby Campus, I would rate it a solid 3/5 stars. Going in, I was not expecting much, given that it was a chain restaurant and the ingredients in pho are relatively cheap. Perhaps because of my low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. All in all, I enjoyed my experience.