Pho The First Time

First and foremost I feel the need to acknowledge the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I have many friends over there right now, thankfully all of which are okay. I hope all of your loved ones there are okay too!! I can’t get over some of the unreal images being shown on the news. After experiencing my first earthquake last summer, I can’t even fathom how terrifying it would be to experience one of that magnitude. Having the earth lurch and shake beneath you is probably one of the scariest things I can think of.

Now if only we as a world could rally support for man made disasters like we do natural disasters. Sigh.

In other news, I got my cast off today!


I finally got to look at my gnarly incision site for the first time. This is after I cleaned it off. It was way gross before.

As for life now without the cast, I’m instructed to start physio asap. I still can’t flex or extend my elbow or rotate my wrist on my own. So I have to get someone to hold my arm and gently lead me through these motions to get my joints used to moving again.

My surgeon said it looks like my bones are settling well. He said my elbow was so pulverized that he’s impressed with any progress at this point. I get the feeling that in any other case he would have immediately inserted a prosthetic radial head. But for some reason he feels my arm can heal on its own. He told me that apart from screws, he also used some kind of glue to piece my shattered elbow back together, which is apparently “unconventional.” There’s also an abnormally large screw in there that may give me problems further down the road and have to be removed.

My next follow up is two weeks from today back in Ottawa. I’m going to see a physiotherapist in Toronto until then. I’ll fly back to New Brunswick from Ottawa after my next appointment in a couple weeks – where I’ll stay to live!! I’ll have to find another orthopaedic surgeon and physiotherapist back home.

Oh, and I asked my surgeon about running. He said no. He doesn’t want me doing anything where I might accidently over extend my elbow. Moving it past it’s current range of motion (which is just a couple inches) can release unwanted fluids and re-injure the joint. Soooo walking it is! I still have to wear my sling when out and about. And he specifically instructed me to wear it on the TTC so assholes don’t jerk my arm around :P

I have to admit, it’s also kind of nice being back in Ottawa with my sis. My sister welcomed me back Thursday night with a dish the city is known for.


I had no idea Ottawa was so pho obsessed. I’d been planning on trying my first bowl of pho in Toronto before I leave. But Sara said that was silly, seeing as Ottawa is a city that runs on this hot soupy dish.


After reading a few reviews online, we ended up at New Pho Bo Ga La on Somerset. Not to be confused with Pho Bo Ga, Pho Bo Ga King and Pho Bo Ga La, all within 100 metres of one another.


I was pleased to see it was a nice sit down restaurant and not some run down take-out joint. We immediately poured ourselves a cup of hot jasmine tea that was already on the table.


The menu was giant, offering every combination imaginable for pho. Different kinds of noodles, meats and levels of spiciness.

Sara and I started with a shrimp rice roll. 


Neither of us are fans of the deep-fried spring rolls. I love the sticky texture of the rice wrap!


Stuffed with whole shrimp, rice noodles, mint and lettuce, dipped in a sweet peanut sauce. Very simple and incredibly tasty.


The waiter brought us a plate of bean sprouts, thai basil, thai peppers and lime wedges. I knew the soup was next!!


Sara, a pho expert by this point, went with something a little fancier. A pho with spicy tomato broth, peanuts and rare beef.


I tried a taste and it was awesome! The peanuts were a perfect addition.

I on the other hand wanted to try something a little more traditional for my first pho experience. We both ordered large bowls and they were giant!


With rice noodles, rare beef, chicken, green onion, bean sprouts, basil, and a few sprinkles of sriracha. I’ve never tried sriracha before and I think I should finally buy some since I put hot sauce on everything!


For pho newbies such as myself, it’s a traditional Vietnamese dish made with a flavourful beef broth, rice noodles and thin slices of rare beef. The soup is served so hot that the beef cooks into tender sheets of meat in no time.


When it comes to soup, I can take it or leave it. I’m usually pretty picky. But I loved this bowl! The broth was unlike any I’ve ever tasted. Not too salty, a little oily (in a good way!) and very bright tasting. The addition of lime, mint and coriander give it a very unique taste. The piles of noodles of course didn’t hurt.


I only ended up eating half my bowl and brought the rest home for lunch the next day!


I added an egg to the mix at home and it was oh-so-good. Also cheap considering I got two meals out of it.

I also want to thank you for the continued support from all of you over the past month as I recover from this injury. I’ve always been a hopeless optimist, but the comments and words of encouragement I get from you on a daily basis has played a large part in keeping me so upbeat. I sometimes feel silly yammering about my trivial woes on here when real trauma is happening elsewhere. But I at least hope my relentless optimism is contagious, and leaves you feeling hopeful at the end of the day too.

Have a great weekend!!

Posted on March 11, 2011, in Injury, Restaurants, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. YAY! No more cast! Let the healing begin!

    I’ve never tried Pho. I have some friends that LOVE it and want me to try. I thought it was raw meat that you “cook” in the broth…? That kind of skeeved me out. It definitely LOOKS delicious….

    • Yes, the meat is added to the broth raw. But it’s sliced so thinly it cooks quick. The place I went to had options for different levels of cooked beef too, and the chicken was definitely added to my soup cooked. If you’re into soups and thai/vietnemese flavours you’ll love it!

  2. Did he say no banana bread? Okay I’ll say – easy on the cooking! Hahaha

  3. woah, love the scar. apparently vitamin e is great for reducing scars!

  4. Ah pho. I LOVE it but I’ll only eat the kind Mitch’s stepmom makes because it’s totally authentic and she uses the filet mignon for the soup. I also learned the correct way to say it…like the F word with no “ck.”

    Oh and sister friend….get thee some sriracha. I will mail it to you if you don’t have it in grocery stores. Cool kids call it rooster sauce (so, I don’t) One of the big reasons I’m glad Mitch is in my life, he introduced me to it! If you can do this one-handed, put chopped cilantro in scrambled eggs and top with sriracha. It’s like Thai-spiced eggs. You’re welcome.

    • Dude, I can totally do eggs and the rooster sauce one handed. I’ll have to stock up while I’m still in Toronto! Grocery stores out East don’t have many foreign food options…

    • The lesser “cool kids” call it Cock Sauce. I’m surprised no else has come out and said it. Guess I have to lower the bar… Admittedly, I like the way it flusters the husband’s uncle. ;)

      Whatever you call it, it IS good! Glad to hear you’re on the mends!

  5. I love pho (and I think its weird it pronounced “fa” but whetever). I think I must have been an asian in a past life.
    yay for getting the cast off! I can totally relate when I got into my car accident and broke my arm. Showering became so much easier.
    And I’m glad your friend is alright. My uncle and aunt moved to tokyo from Australia five years ago, but I saw on twitter that he was ok (wonderful how twitter can pull through!).

  6. I’ve never had Pho, but we have a large Vietnam community within Sydney. I’ve had a few hot laksa’s before.

    Seems you’re getting good use out of your nifty-fifty, the bokeh in those roll photos is awesome. At least I THINK it’s your 50mm?

    • It is the 50mm! Just as in love with it as ever. Still trying to find a nice balance of bokeh to make the food pop, without making everything too fuzzy. Works better in certain lighting I find.

      • I would think if the lighting is good, f2.5-3.5 would be about right. Some of those food shots look about f1.8-2, maybe a bit much but the focus is nice and sharp.

  7. Your scar looks pretty good! Vitamin E is your friend. Andy has sort of neglected putting it on his elbow but his scar looks pretty good too. Such a thin little incision to piece you together.

    Your optimism is definitely contagious and that’s what keeps me coming back and cheering you on. I think you are awesome. Congrats for getting the cast off and starting physiotherapy.

    I need to try Pho one of these days. It looks delicious. I love sriracha and this looks perfect for it.

  8. Ahh how exciting that your cast is off! (That is a pretty insane looking scar–definitely worth bragging about!) :) Good luck with the rest of your recovery.

  9. I am so glad that your elbow is doing good! Glad the dr visit went will. I have never had pho, but if I do, I am totally stealing your post title ;)

  10. Agreeing with Janetha above that your title is amazing, haha!

    Glad to hear your cast is off and progress has been made! So happy for you.

    On another note, I LOVE pho and have determined it cures all. Oh yeah, everything. When ever I feel run down or sick, all I want is pho. I also love that is delicious, cheap and they give you GIANT portions :) Oh, and sriracha is a must have, so good!


  11. Cool scar, I love my scars they all have a story to be told : )

    Food looks delicious, have a fab weekend pretty lady x x

  12. That’s my favourite Pho place in Ottawa :) live their garlic soup and choice of TV programming. Glad you enjoyed Pho!

  13. I really like pho bo ga la. I am glad you enjoyed your first pho experience! It took me forever to try it for the first time but now I am an addict.

  14. *whistles* That’s quite a war wound! Glad you got it out though and that it’s healing!

    I’ve NEVER had Pho before but certainly looks like something I would have loved in my meat eating days!

  15. Susan,
    first of all, sorry for my English – I´m from Czech Republic, so my English is not very good ( but working on it) :-).
    I must say your blog is absolutely amazing – I watch him every day :o). I can´t believe how creative you are. I love your recipes, your articles, just about everything.
    I wish you many more ideas for making your blog :-).

  16. Now I feel I must try pho. Next time I travel I will put it on my must do list! :)

  17. pho = love. glad you had your first :)

  18. i’m in ottawa, and FYI Susan, “New Pho Bo Ga La” prices are the most
    expensive in chinatown, the prices are ridiculous, the new prices are crazy compare to other Pho’s places, try another place and u’ll know what i meant. :) cheers

  19. Pho is the absolute best hangover cure. I can’t explain it, but it works every time.

  20. Susan, reading back over some of your old posts. Shattered elbow. Oh gosh, can’t lie – that sounds pretty awful. Hope all the walking is going OK. That’s about the only exercise I’m doing these days as well, and it makes me happy. Fresh air everyday keeps me sane.

    Never had pho. Always wanted to try it. However, I do love rice paper wrapped Vietnamese rolls. YUM!

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