After a year in business, Justin Nguyen, the owner of Pho’s House – a Vietnamese restaurant in Hay River – says he adores the community.
“I love Hay River because it’s a quiet town,” he said. “The people who come in the restaurant are very nice and the business is good.”
Pho’s House is one of the jewels of Hay River’s food scene, and on July 1 the family-run business celebrated its one-year anniversary.
Born in Vietnam, Nguyen saw an opportunity to serve up his version of the signature Vietnamese pho soup to Northerners. So, about a year and a half ago, he moved to Hay River from Calgary with plans to open the restaurant.
“In Calgary there are over 100 Vietnamese restaurants so I didn’t want to open a restaurant in Calgary,” he said. “Hay River is better.”
He’s also looking to increase “the diversity of food” in the community, he said.
According to the Pho’s House website, Nguyen’s “secret” pho recipe was passed down to him from his mother, who was a well-known food vendor in Saigon, in southern Vietnam, back in the 1980s.
“We are really grateful to become a member of Hay River and proud to bring not only pho but also many typical traditional dishes of Vietnam,” the eatery’s website states, “in order to contribute to the diversity of culinary culture, as well as creating more choices for people here.”
At his pho shop on 1 Lepine Road across from the Ptarmigan Inn, Nguyen starts his broth by simmering beef bones for 10 hours to extract the natural sweetness of the bone marrow. Herbs and spices are then mixed in “to create a distinguished flavour.”
Add fresh banh pho noodles, sliced meat and green onions and you get a “harmonious combination” that “provides enough nutrition and energy for a whole working day,” the website continues.
The pho is available with cuts of beef, in addition to slices of rare beef that are inserted into the hot broth, where they cook just before serving.
Pho’s House also offers a number of other Vietnamese specialties, including banh mi sandwiches stuffed with satay beef, sweet and tangy pickled carrots, herbs, cucumber and onion, which are filling, yet refreshing.
For dessert, traditional Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk or the bubble tea is on the menu.