Nom Nom Noodles

Vietnamese specialities delight at this new noodle joint.

Blue Orchid may be a part of some secret plan that owner, Bit Gosinet, has to take over the Jasper and 112th Street area. Why? The new restaurant is just a few doors down from his other baby, Bua Thai. While the new Vietnamese restaurant will slowly introduce some Thai items, the menus won’t be identical.

The current menu at Blue Orchid is concise – it has 10 types of pho, four different vermicelli bowls and eight appetizers. But there’s variety in the restaurant’s lunch buffet, which changes daily with items such as the vegetarian pad Thai, green curry chicken and mango chicken.

While the Thai lunch buffet looks and smells outstanding, it’s the Vietnamese specialties we’ve come to try. We start with four huge chicken salad rolls. Rice paper forms a cocoon around rice noodles, warm chicken, veggies and a generous helping of cilantro or mint. Served with a thick peanut sauce, these rolls are a fresh way to kick off the meal.

While the special pho, which consists of steak, flank, meatballs and tripe atop broth and vermicelli noodles, is the most popular soup on the menu, it’s the chicken tom yum pho that catches my fancy. This slightly spicy pho tastes heavily of lemongrass, which gives the soup a floral zip. The portion is huge and the aromatic dish includes a hearty serving of chicken. However, it has more noodles than anything else – enough for a second meal – more broth would have been ideal.

While there is no dessert menu – the Thai buffet comes with dessert – the portions are so big you likely won’t have room to satisfy your sweet tooth anyway. Instead, finish your meal with a cup of lotus tea, a heady floral brew ripe with flavour and zero calories. (11235 Jasper Ave., 780-454-4654)

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