My guest and I were looking for an easy lunch option by our homes. She recommended the newly open “Pho 99”, which turned out to be the nicest restaurant that I have ever visited for quick and inexpensive Vietnamese food.
The all glass exterior allowed in plenty of natural light, allowing you to clearly take in how new the place was. The walls were still a pristine white. All the bleach wood tables were still sharp, with pointed corners and a waxy finish that matched that of the chairs before them.
The menu was a book, coloured page after coloured page of Vietnamese soup, salads, and sandwiches. We got a few of our favourite dishes as a good gauge of their cooking.
This is their “Grilled chicken banh mi”, except we ordered it without cilantro and the meat pâté, to the preference of my guest. The sandwich was black pepper heavy. I would have liked it with more creamy mayo and for the vegetables to have more vinegar tang to them, the weren’t pickled or seasoned for that tell-a-tale flavour.
We added one “fried roll” to our order of the “Veggie marinated grilled lemon grass chicken”. My guest doesn’t like peanuts, green onions, and bean sprouts so we had this serving without all three. Sadly, I found it lacking without the additional toppings for their refreshing nature and crunch. The bowl tasted like a deconstructed salad roll or pho without the soup. The side of fish sauce did help to give it some flavour and life.
The “Combo roll” gave you a taste of three of their different appetizers. The salad roll with vermicelli, lettuce, and shrimp utilized the peanut based sauce for taste. Similarly, the peanut sauce gave the pork roll some depth of flavour. Although there was plenty of excess noodle and wrap, as we discarded the ends. The fried roll here was the same as above. It came out extra oily, and still hot from the fry throughout. The fish sauce was key here in balancing out the oil with some acid.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall, everything was standard. The food was as expected and the service delivered. It is your typical chain. If you are looking for deep cultural experience you won’t get it here. But they are a great addition for the community with the neighbouring school, businesses, and corporate offices. Making them a great lunch or after work/school destination. Especially as thy are located so close the Renfrew skytrain station. Don’t deny your cravings.