During my random adventures online, I came across a Vietnamese restaurant called Phobulous. Located near the University of Alberta in Edmonton, this small establishment is clearly trying to be “hip” and “trendy” with its naming scheme, attracting the forward thinking students of the nearby university.
While the outside of the restaurant is modest at best with a very simple banner exclaiming its name, the interior design is decidedly more upscale than your typical pho restaurant. The seats are high quality and there is expensive artwork on the walls. Even the complimentary glass of ice water has been infused with lemon juice. Normally, you have to do that yourself.
The somewhat humorous naming scheme doesn’t stop at the Phobulous name of the restaurant either, as much of the menu takes on the same sense of “pho funny” humor. Someone’s got to make up for the funny factor when Sally’s not there making funny faces, after all.
From the Mother Pho to the Phonomenon, you can tell that they put some effort into what they call the various bowls of noodles. Realistically, the content is pho-lly generic, containing much of the same beef products that you’d find anywhere else.
We started out with an order of pork and shrimp salad rolls. You can’t seem to order them individually, as they only come in an order of four for about $7.50 or so. One review that I read online said that they were like eating a rainforest. Perhaps they weren’t very experienced in the world of “fine” Vietnamese cuisine.
And what you see above is the Pho Shizzle. I get flank, rare steak, and beef balls. In the end, I decided that Phobulous is mostly pho show and the proprietors don’t really bring their pho game to the table. The beef was a little on the chewy side and the broth was a touch too salty.
That said, the sense of humor and elevated class make Phobulous more approachable for pho beginners. For veterans, we prefer the shadier, more run-down establishments. For whatever reason, they tend to have better pho.