Restaurant Review: iPho

Beef pho in a white bowl.

Special Beef Pho. Photo courtesy of Alpha via Flickr.

Back in high school, one of the local meeting spots was a pho restaurant near home – Kanata Noodle House was a local favorite to dine out at, and was a warm, fulfilling place. There’s not many things I’m sentimental about, but the restaurant was one of them. I’ve made good friends there, and when I was going home for breaks, I often went there to meet my old friends (pre-COVID, of course). 

Naturally, when I got to Waterloo a few years ago, I was disappointed to hear that there was no pho place near campus. While several of my close friends felt like hand-pulled noodles hit the same spot for them, it just wasn’t the same to me – besides, I’m allergic to peanuts. SCH pho is unsatisfactory, for reasons self-evident.

Even more disappointing to me, when sieving through an old yearbook, was the news that there was a pho place near campus. Unfortunately, I guess it must have shut down some time ago. With some friends, we trekked out towards Kitchener for pho. While the pho was still that delicious rice noodle soup we all know and love, the distance was quite far, and it just wasn’t the same as that local restaurant I had in high school. It just wasn’t the same. Admittedly, the LRT made commuting to near Conestoga for pho more viable, but it left something to be desired.

Fortunately, in the past few weeks, a pho place near campus opened up – iPho. It sounds like a zany new Apple product (I know, Apple stopped that naming scheme a while ago. Sue me). Much like iPotato though, it’s a local restaurant. I believe it’s a family owned, and completely new restaurant. 

When I went in with my friend, I saw the menu was simple and to the point – my favorite. There’s two sizes for pho, regular and extra-large (does anyone really need more sizes?). The menu was one double sided sheet, and didn’t require any prancing around. I like this because it shows a focus on a smaller group of quality cooking as opposed to trying to impress everyone with a wide variety of acceptable-quality food. 

During my trips there, I’ve tried both regular ($11) and extra-large ($13) sized phos. The regular sized pho left me full, and the extra large, bloated. It was fulfilling, and largely a standard pho. While I’ve heard of some quality concerns with former local pho restaurants, iPho was quite nice.

For the first time as well, I also tried Vietnamese coffee ($4) with condensed milk. While quite sweet, it was an enjoyable new experience. Maybe I’ll try some specialty drinks next time. While there’s few restaurants I regularly patronize in the area, I may just add iPho to this list. 

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