Optimistically Cautious

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Doan's Restaurant

Vietnamese pho has long been a favorite of mine, with southside's Pagolac (9642 54 Avenue) claiming my vote for pho supremacy in Edmonton. However, I decided to put that title to the test when I visited Doan's Restaurant (10130 107 Street) with a friend on Friday night.

Doan's has consistently won See Magazine's annual readers poll for "Best Vietnamese." And though I once sampled their pho in a take-out order, this was my first dine-in experience to date.

The decor is a classic case of Asian misinterpretation of Western flair. Although the pink walls, solid wooden tables and seat covers are nice enough, the palm trees (yes, I said palm trees) and Oriental art accents create an apperance of trying too hard. To underscore this point, the water was served in wine glasses.

To eat at an Asian restaurant without tea is a foreign idea to me, so we ordered a pot of green tea ($2). We were surprised to find they used a tea bag instead of loose leaves or steeped tea. Pagolac, on the other hand, offers a brewed variety, and doesn't charge for their tea.

We decided to start with a half plate of cha gio (spring rolls) while for the main course, my friend settled on Pho Dac Biet (special beef noodle soup with brisket, medium rare beef, well done beef, and beef balls) and I ordered my usual Pho Tai (medium rare beef noodle soup).

The food arrived promptly. The sping rolls were crispy and not greasy, but my friend noted that they were smaller than their Pagolac counterparts. As for the pho - it was simply delicious. The broth was rich and flavorful, with enough cilantro garnish to keep me happy. They were also extremely generous with the portions - the bowl contained noticeably more noodles and beef than Pagolac's version. So for approximately $1 more, Doan's offers the better value.

Though I enjoy Pagolac's laid back atmosphere and free tea refills, the quality of the food at Doan's gives Pagolac a run for their money. I'll definitely be back for another round.

Palm trees!

Pho Dac Biet

Pho Tai


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