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Sunday 5 June 2011

Cô Dô Huê (Co Do Hue) Edmonton - Tasty traditional Vietnamese fare even if you can't pronounce the name right

Rating Service 7/10 Food 7.5/10
After circling around for a bit, finally found this little gem tucked behind Safeway/Sobeys - can't remember, it was a grocery store. A sister location to Trang Tien, a family owned Vietnamese restuarant in the same parking lot as Mirama.  This new location has nicer decor and is cozier than the original pseudo cafeteria style digs.  Almost as an answer to my grumblings that the north side of Edmonton has a dearth of restuarants, Cô Dô Huê is a welcome and super busy addition to the food scene.  Priding themselves in making traditional Vietnamese cuisine, its one of the few places in the city where you can go to taste the tender -chewy savoury tapioca based dumplings bursting with savory sweet saltiness of shrimp and pork, or their  incredibly tasty clams tossed in an infernally spicy but addictively good sauce over top of rice vermicelli, or really really good lemon grass chicken cooked over charcoal. Mmmm.

the FOOD
The menu is quite extensive, and unfortunately, the descriptions are bare bones (and usually just a Vietnamese name of the dish) - thankfully, the waitstaff are usually knowledgeable and are able to tell you the 7-10 other ingredients that are part of the special rice noodle, or one of my favourites - the bun bo hue, a spicy beef and pork based broth with shaved steak, flank, sausage, onions and all sorts of good stuff with a platter of bean sprouts, chilis and basil to garnish.  Just being the two of us, we ordered a small order of spring rolls, a platter of the pork and shrimp tapioca dumplings, bun bo hue, and the shrimp, crab and pork lai fan soup.
The spring rolls come out piping hot, and are served with the standard fish sauce.  The spring rolls today are a wrapped a bit too tight, so after frying, the exterior had a harder, denser crunch rather than the light and flaky we'd usually expect.  The insides were stuffed with a tasty mixture of seasoned pork, veggies, and rice vermicelli.  I prefer the fish sauce based dipping sauce to be sweetened with a bit of grated carrot, but to each their own.

The pork and shrimp tapioca dumplings can be served in a dumpling form, or as a filling wrapped up in banana leaves and steamed.  The latter infuses a subtle "green" banana leaf flavor with the leaf providing a handy wrapper on the dumplings to keep your hands clean while you dunk the dumpling in dipping suace.  We went with the dumpling format as this takes a bit more work to shape the dumplings into a form that resembles dumplings as the tapioca dough is nefariously super ooper stubbornly sticky.  It was steamed into a tender savory morsel with a delightful springiness from the tapioca exterior.  The filling was a mixture of savory diced pork and shrimp.  You can't stop at just one.. nom!
The bun bo hue came out swimming in a flavorful broth with plenty of chili oil floating in the midst of soft rice noodles, thinly sliced Vietnamese fried sausage, springy meatballs, shaved steak, onions, a huge pile of julienned cabbage, and hits of chopped cilantro.  A dish piled high with bean sprouts, basil, little chili peppers and chunks of lemon is available to be added for extra flavor and texture.  If you want a bit more heat, there is a well stocked condiments plate on each table: hoisin, satay, garlic and chili, chili, hot and soy sauces are available for you to dress up your dishes.  This is probably as close to the homemade bun bo hue my Vietnamese girlfriend makes at a restaurant.  This soup noodle is definitely not in the mild range - its wonderful for warding off colds... if the soupy goodness part doesn't do the trick, the amount of chilis in it will mop up those germies!  If you want to have the heat toned down, make sure you let the kitchen know when you order.

The shrimp, crab and pork lai fan soup came out as a particulate rich soup with plenty of seafood hidden away within the noodles.  The thick round rice noodles nicely resisted becoming a soggy mess and stayed just a tad softer than al dente throughout the meal, absorbing a bit of the broth nicely.  The seafood based reddish broth was thick with particulates, and rich with flavors you only get with plenty of pork bones, shrimp and seafood cooked over many hours.. nom!  A small handful of crabmeat, a few sticks of imitation crabmeat, some mussels, a large piece of squid and a large shrimp was hidden within the noodles and surprisingly not overcooked despite sitting in the hot soup.  Definitely a bowl of comfort food... mmmmm.

Head here for tasty, down to earth traditional Vietnamese food when you're in the *gasp!* north end of the city.  You won't be disappointed.  If you try to eat the whole menu though, you'll have to come back for years... not that that's a bad thing.  Bonus points if you can pronounce its name right.

Cô Dô Huê (Co Do Hue)
Address 12819-140 Ave, Edmonton, AB
Phone (780) 475-2660
Hours Open 10am-9pm everyday except Tuesday. Closed Tueday
Co Do Hue on Urbanspoon


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