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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Restaurant Review: East Lake Pho - 77%

As you may, or may not, know, I live and work in Airdrie. There isn’t much variety available here in terms of a quick lunch, so most of the time I take my own food from home. The German and I are heading to Ontario on Saturday, however, so we've been trying to run down the fridge which doesn’t really fit well with my diet.

So, unless I wanted to skip lunch (which I do frequently, not healthy, do as I say not as I do please!) I needed to go out. One of the places I hadn’t been to in a while is a handy little Vietnamese place about a 5 minute drive away, East Lake Pho.

I used to love the subs here, until my diagnosis. I was tickled pink when the staff knew right away what “celiac” meant, and were happy to check on whatever items I wanted. Ever since, the service has been pretty close to impeccable and I have never had a request to check on ingredients turned down or shrugged off as annoying.

Today, I ordered an A0, Beef Salad Rolls with sate peanut sauce, and a C49, Charbroiled Pork with Lemon Grass and Spring Rolls on Rice Vermicelli. They have a great deal where 99% of their Bun (Vermicelli) dishes are on for $6.95 Sunday through Tuesday. The only one not included is C44, Special Rainbow Combo (several different types of meat + spring roll).

Speaking from experience, the shrimp and chicken are not gluten free due to the marinade they use. I know the Pork Chop used for the rice dishes (or as an add on) isn’t either, even though the lemon grass pork is. I am not 100% sure about other thing, so please ask your server when you order. They are very friendly and knowledgeable.

Now, the peanut sauce, sadly, is not gluten free here so I had fish sauce substituted, and I passed on having the spring rolls with my vermicelli for the same reason. Often if I am dining with someone else, I ask for the spring rolls to be packaged separately (so my companion can eat them) and this is never an issue. They add cilantro to a lot of stuff here, and I personally can’t stand the stuff, so I always order my food without it.

As of right now, VH sauces (Teriyaki excluded) in Canada are gluten free, so I keep a bottle of both Soy and Hoisin at home/work. Not just for Vietnamese; because I like Asian flavors and use soy sauce on nearly everything.

The beef salad rolls were pretty average, they don’t flavour the beef beforehand but that doesn’t bother me so much as I just dunk it in sauce anyway. I like they add julienned cucumber to their rolls, along with the standard vermicelli and lettuce. They aren’t anything special, to be honest, but they are rolled nice and tight and the wrappers are nice and squishy, like they should be.

The vermicelli wasn’t too bad. There was a good amount of pork, and it was well seasoned, but a little dry. Lettuce, carrots, and cucumber were a little in short supply, although extremely fresh and crunchy. I’d say 60% of the entire dish was the vermicelli noodles, which I was very tired off by the end.

All in all, I would say these guys don’t serve bad food at all. The standard Vietnamese fare although what they do put out, I feel is quite freshly made. I don’t come here specifically for taste, I come for the awesome service and the high degree of knowledge they exhibit regarding wheat allergies and celiac disease.

Atmosphere 6.5/10
Service 9.5 /10
Presentation 6.5/10
Taste 7/10
Variety of Gluten Free Dishes 7.5/10
Value 9/10

Pho East Lake Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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