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Foodie Review: New Pho Bo Ga La

Ottawa is addicted to Phở, the Viet­namese soup. A few years ago, one phở restau­rant opened, then another one, and another one… and now phở places can be found from Chi­na­town to the far sub­urbs of Kanata.

Really, what’s not to like? Phở restau­rants are typ­i­cally cheap if not very fancy, and I guess the soup is quite com­fort­ing dur­ing our long winters.

Most phở restau­rants oper­ate on the same basis: a small menu, with mostly spring rolls as appe­tiz­ers and dif­fer­ent phở com­bi­na­tions (var­i­ous cuts of meat). The items are num­bered and you write your order on the piece of paper pro­vided. Hot tea is almost always offered, as well as herbs and spices for your soup (i.e. mint, chili, lime wedges, etc.).

I’m not a huge fan of phở myself, I much pre­fer bún. It is typ­i­cally a bowl of ver­mi­celli served over a bed of bean sprouts and cucum­ber, topped with some meat (beef, chicken, pork or even shrimp) and chopped spring rolls, spring onions, roasted peanuts and a small bowl of nước chấm. Like with the phở, you can pick your ingre­di­ents (meat, spring rolls, etc.).

These two dishes are about $10 each and are very filling.

Not all phở places are cre­ated equal, and New Phở Bo Ga La is my favourite because of the effi­cient ser­vice and the fact the place is well-run and clean.

The Good

  • Super-fast ser­vice, can be in-and-out in 30 minutes.
  • Cheap and filling.
  • Free tea, lots of hot sauces available.

The Bad

  • Can get pretty packed.
  • Ser­vice is very imper­sonal, i.e. food is dumped on the table, period.
  • Doesn’t take debit.


At a glance

New Phở Bo Ga La (blue sign with a Bud­dha at the front)
763 Som­er­set St W (Chi­na­town)
Ottawa, ON K1R6R1
(613) 233‑2222

A Bowl of Phở

A Bowl of “Bun” (Vermicelli)

New Pho Bo Ga La on Urbanspoon


  1. So I see you branched off into food reviews now. I do that too, but not in my blog, instead, I Yelp! it.

    Any­way, I’m glad you’re a fan of Asian soups too. I have a friend, who I took to a phở shop, but thought that it was just bits and pieces of meat and veg­eta­bles swim­ming in broth. Need­less to say, she wasn’t happy.

    • Orig­i­nally, I started review­ing a few local on Yelp but I got very annoyed with the web­site because all of my reviews were fil­tered. I don’t want to waste time writ­ing a thought­ful review if no one is going to read it! So I’m pub­lish­ing them on my blog, which I actu­ally think is a good idea. Just once in a while, for a change!

  2. Both dishes look deli­cious – but then, I love just about any­thing I don’t have to prepare!

  3. Oddly, when I was in Ho Chi Minh City, the food I liked best was sand­wich, French style…

  4. Love Phở soups but most Paris restau­rants serv­ing that get very crowded and they do not have A/C so I go only in the Winter :)

  5. I vis­ited a Viet­namese restau­rant when I was in Cam­bo­dia. The set­ting was beau­ti­ful, but too bad the menu was loaded with meat stuff… guess it’s com­mon for the Viets’ diet. Not really a cui­sine for vegetarians.

    But that said, I love noodles/vermicelli in soup! I’m a bi fan of soups and tonic con­coc­tions. Guess it’s my Asian root! :D

    • You know what, come to think of it I can’t think of a sin­gle veg­e­tar­ian option in Viet­namese restau­rants here! Must be cultural.

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