Saturday, February 06, 2016

Eating up the Hill: Centre Block Pho

I had other plans for lunch on Friday. Since I began working on the Hill I've either eaten out or just worked through lunch, but that can get pricey. So I made a ham & cheese sandwich. Then I happened to look over the food services menu on the Intranet, and saw the Friday special over at Centre Block was Pho.

Pho has been a trendy thing in Toronto for a few years, but I never really jumped on the Pho bandwagon. When I lived in Vancouver, just off Robson in the Korean part of town, I bypassed the popular nearby Korean noodle restaurants too. I have long lived by the philosophy that noodles are not a meal.

But while it's probably faux-pho, I'd heard that the Centre Block pho ain't bad, so in the interests of food blogging science I hopped on a little green bus and went up to check it out. While the big city mayors were probably dining with the Prime Minister downstairs (I'm guessing not on pho), I placed an order for one bowl of chicken pho (shrimp and vegetarian were also options).

Restaurant: Centre Block Cafeteria
Dish: Chicken Pho
Price: $6.32 (excluding tax and my usual tiny carton of skim milk)

They wok-cooked pre-cooked chicken breast and prepared a bowl with rice noodles and a selection of green onions, red peppers, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, bean sprouts, nappa cabbage and snap peas. When the chicken was ready, it was added to the bowl followed by several ladles of chicken broth, flavoured with fresh garlic, galangal, lemongrass, thai basil, lime leaf, lime zest, lime juice, red chili peppers, salt, pepper, fish sauce and coconut milk, among other things.

I grabbed a too-small carton of skim milk and took my pho to a table to enjoy while watching the last of Friday question period on television. The bowl was flavourful with a delicious mix of tastes. The chicken was a bit dry, the vegetables crisp and delicious. The broth was delicious, but I'd have preferred a broader, more chewy noodle.

It wasn't bad; I'd give it 6/10 and may have it again when it comes back up in the rotation. However noodles still aren't a meal.

So I went back to my office and had my ham and cheese sandwich.

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