By Jon-Paul Carfagnini
Brock University, Media Communications
Our appetite for a unique dining experience brought us to Pho 18 on a Monday night. Located at 18 Clairmont Street in Thorold, the Vietnamese fusion restaurant offers a wide-ranging menu, but we focused on their signature dishes.
For starters, the Veggie Spring Roll tasted fresh, flavourful and the flaky pastry dipped in a sweet sauce pleased the palate for a tasty appetizer. (4 rolls for $5)
Did you know that Pho (noodle soup) is the Vietnamese national dish?
So we went all in with Pho #1 consisting of rice noodles, rare medium beef, flank, tripe, and tender beef balls in a spicy beef broth. A couple can order the double for $12 which is abundant to share and satisfy an appetite. If you have not tasted tripe, this could be chancy because this food is not visually appealing and has a chewy, liver-like taste. Tripe is made from the muscle wall of a cow’s stomach, so this food is not for finicky eaters. On the upside, Pho 18 integrates the tripe to a velvety texture in the meaty broth.
For a succulent and spicy main dish, I would recommend the Chicken Pad Thai for $15. Two of us shared the rice noodles with a medley of egg, mixed peppers, bean sprouts, onions, topped with peanuts. Beef or shrimp options of the Pad Thai are available.
A thirst-quenching selection of beer was listed, which exceeded expectations. So Corona premium lager beer from Mexico was the fusion for Vietnamese cuisine. I was delighted to see the new restaurant serves several types of beer and cocktails.
Our experience was enhanced by an elegant presentation and creative plating of the dishes. This aspect demonstrates their experience in a stylish presentation of Asian cuisine. Cultural vibes were also created by the artful ambiance and soothing floral decor.
Pho 18 is kicking it up a notch with Asian fusion. Pho 18 owner, Jenny aims to satisfy customer interests. She told us some customers have requested more options for sides. For some dishes they added French Fries as a side as an alternative to rice. This variety appeals to North American tastes in a trend known as “Asian fusion.”
The friendly service was authentic for an Asian style dinner. Our server, Ley immigrated to Canada recently and has been living in Thorold for about 6 months. Speaking in English was a bit of challenge, but she did not miss a beat on the food recommendations or fulfilling the order for excellent service. Actually the interaction added to the inter-cultural experience.
Generous portions and delicious foods added up to a great value. For $30 per person, a substantial dinner puts Pho 18 in an affordable price range. This restaurant should appeal to Brock U. or Niagara College students starving for an authentic oriental meal on a campus budget.
Overall, Pho 18 served an exquisite cultural experience that I would recommend for unique dining in Thorold. It’s all about the fusion!