The menu was large and full of bright, colourful, delicious looking photos of the menu items. They serve a huge variety of food and it is clear from the wide selection that this place is different from the standard Vietnamese pho shop.
Our server was really nice and friendly but there really did seem to be a language barrier issue and we didn't really think she understood our menu questions or our order. Waiting for the food, I was fascinated and delighted by all of the sauces on the table- soy, hot, and fish sauces, Maggi liquid seasoning, pickled hot peppers, chili garlic sauce, sriracha sauce, and something in a mustard container that I couldn't identify but smelled interesting. We ordered a few dishes to share.
We ordered the papaya salad with tofu- she first brought out papaya salad with chicken. We told her that this was the wrong dish- but she insisted "this is better" and implied that she was also bringing out a tofu variety? We were really confused- and ended up sending the chicken salad back.
The first dish to arrive was C7 in the Rice Dishes section Lemongrass Beef Short Ribs $8.50. The meat came with white rice, sliced tomato and cucumber and shredded coleslaw, a citrus-vinegar dressing, and a small bowl of broth (with bone) to add excess rice to. Eating meat of bone isn't my favourite- but these were easy to eat, chewy, tender, flavourful, and delicious.
The next dish to arrive was the Phnom Penh Rolls $5.50. This dish was Asian sausage, jimaca, carrots, lettuce, caramelized onions and crushed peanuts wrapped in rice paper, served with peanut sauce. It was light and fresh but the sausage and caramelized onions made it heartier and more satisfying. The accompanying peanut sauce was awesome.
This was the Papaya Salad with Tofu $9 that we ordered and we were glad we sent the Chicken version back. This ended up being the favourite dish on the table. It was from the vegetarian section of the menu. The dish was simple but delicious with julienned green papaya salad topped with carrot, herbs, caramelized onion, crushed onion and house vinaigrette. The crispy chunks of tofu were light and crunchy with a nice salty flavour. You can also get this dish with shrimp, shredded chicken, shrimp and pork, and beef jerky but this tofu was so good that I think I'd stick with tofu.
We also ordered a soup dish from the "Regional Dishes" section: N5 Bon Bo Hue with beef, pork and vermicelli in a spicy lemongrass soup for $8. It only comes in one size and it's pretty big. Even though the red lemongrass pictured in the menu looked like it would be sweat inducing, it was pretty mild. About half way through the dish, I added a few generous squirts of sriracha sauce and that kicked things up a notch and improved the dish for me. The menu doesn't really mention what parts of the cow and pig are in the soup....it's a good thing none of us are squeamish because there were a few flank strips, a couple of knuckles, tripe, and cubes of gelatinous pork blood.
I didn't really have any interest in trying the gross looking cubes of pig's blood but SAD pressured me into it, exclaiming "Do it for your readers!"So I did. Thankfully, it didn't have a strong flavour, it was pretty mild with a weird jello consistency.
We all loved the food here and we'll all be back. I've heard they have an extensive menu for breakfast too with every dish priced at $5.