I was only inside of St. Albert for about as long as my meal at Pho Anh Sang could stay inside of me; and while neither trip ended up taking very long before it was time to evacuate, I did make it to the restroom in time.
Alright, so the beef pho I had was actually decent, if a little light on sustenance. I didn’t really feel fully satisfied by the time I was in my final phase of pho consumption, which I like to call “stabbing a fork randomly into a bowl of lukewarm broth to see if something sticks that isn’t a vegetable.”
That’s right—I use a fork, which makes you better than me. I have no idea how anyone uses fucking chopsticks for this. Those meaty little strips are like elusive, slippery seals trying to avoid a harpoon.
Overall, my dining experience was mediocre. A big part of it had to do with our table, which was located about a meter away from the front door. Every time it swung open, we were blasted by a freezing gust of fucking cold Alberta wind. It’s a small place, sure— but as I burrowed deeper into the bowels of this Bun Chao Gio house, I became a little less forgiving.
Anyway, here’s my review—for both the restaurant’s interior, and its restroom.
I immediately notice an impressive amount of attention to detail at Pho Anh Sang: Sad looking sunflowers, potted plants on milk crates, and some sort of “mad-hatter-cat” tip jar. The amount of careful consideration that went into the design really gives the restaurant its own unique personality.
I’d call it ambiance, but I’m not sure that’s what they’re going for.
As for the dining hall “pièce de résistance?” A flat screen TV on pause. For… some reason…? I’m not sure why they’ve decided to stop at such a particularly fucking disturbing part of the film, but I definitely felt those demonic eyes burning into the back of my skull every minute of my meal.
As I head to the back of the restaurant, I also can’t help but notice the not-so-secret lair “hidden” behind one of those dojo-divider things. You know, those wall separators that look like they belong in a Bruce Lee movie.
(Either there, or in the shitty apartment of some chick you met on Bumble who’s trying to pass her bachelor off as a one-bedroom).
For an establishment with limited space, I guess having a break room like this isn’t entirely unusual— but it is pretty out in the open. You should always ensure that your customers can willfully ignore what’s behind your curtains, especially when they’re about to eat your mystery meat.
As I enter the
dragon, dojo, break-room, gambling-room, it becomes clear that Pho Anh Sang treats their employees extremely well—giving them twice the amount of dining space than they give their own customers.
I can’t help but stop and stare at this suspicious looking mess. Like, I’m sure nothing illegal is happening here, but it does have that “after-hours cockfighting tournament” atmosphere.
In fact, as I enter this back area, I almost feel like I’m entering Shredder’s secret hideout for his “Foot” clan from the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie:
The back hall builds on this theme, and includes a wonderful collection of cardboard boxes overflowing with apocalyptic doomsday-prep supplies (circa 1999).
As for the signage, Pho Anh Sang must have gotten a deal for buying their M’s in bulk, because the women’s room door is looking a little upside down. I usually don’t dock points for a restaurant operating on a budget, but something tells me they didn’t exactly save big bucks on this little latrine life-hack.
Alright, I’m finally inside the washroom now. I’ll just turn the lights on… Oh, wait. I guess they’re already on. Is that a pipe bomb?
Oh, no. It’s just some sort of ridiculously bad design concept for a wall-lamp.
It looks like the owners were trying to find an inexpensive lighting system, but ended up browsing cardboard toilet paper tube lamps on a fucking craft website or something.
The floors are unsurprisingly awful. I know they’re tile, but it feels like I’m walking on oily gravel.
I shudder at the scraping sound my shoes make against the brown ceramic squares that were once probably white.. Scrip. Scrip. Screeep.
Come on guys. If you’re not going to mop, at least pour a bucket of bleach over this shit once in a while.
I suggest wearing two pairs of shoes for this specific situation. You’ll also need to bring a biohazard bag for the contaminated pair before discarding them.
Sadly, they still probably wouldn’t fit very nicely into this garbage bin:
Yeah, gross. Even grosser is how close I’m getting to the floor for this photo. I can practically feel the microbacteria crawling up my leg and invading my respiratory system. But I’m a goddamn restroom critic. It’s my dishonourable duty.
The sink looks deceptively clean. I’d advise extreme caution with your hands, though. When it comes to the cleanliness of faucets, it’s good to have some healthy skepticism if you want to keep whatever remaining health you have.
The water seems fine, I guess. Definitely an “external use only” brand of H20. I’m happy that I’ll never see the pipes, because they probably look like rusted car engine parts crawling with spiders and caked with insect corpses.
To make things worse, you might not even have a chance to disinfect yourself anyway, since this Alpine dispenser is missing its pump:
Nevertheless, it appears they’ve replaced it with a hand soap dispenser
stolen from a truck-stop shit house purchased at Wal-Mart. Still, I think I’ll skip the lather this time around.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I haven’t snapped a photo of the toilet because I needed both my hands while I was using it — mainly for praying:
“Please have mercy on me by killing any communicable diseases I may contract from this seat. I’ll never snoop through my neighbour’s hamper in the laundry room again. Amen.”
To be fair, the toilet wasn’t too terrible; but you’ll still want to find your “happy place” if you’re pinching a loaf here.
They have one of those vintage Kimberly Clark LEV-R-MATIC roll towel dispensers that makes me feel like I’m playing a slot machine. Apparently it isn’t my lucky day though.
No paper towel jackpot for me. Not even a single sheet. They do have a backup supply immediately behind me, on top of more cardboard boxes, but they still only get a C in this category.
It’s good that their backup is easily accessible, but come on. No one wants to unravel the roll with their fucking fingers, and I certainly don’t know how to re-stock a slot machine. Especially in the dark.
But as dark as it is—this filthy mirror could make anyone appear as if they’ve aged 35 years and started hitting the pipe pretty hard:
One of the last things I’ve noticed here is their lack of a plunger, which I guess they’ve substituted with a toilet brush. I’m guessing that isn’t Skippy Peanut Butter on the handle, but I suppose there’s always a chance.
Also: I do sincerely hope the girl who was working the front isn’t actually using these rubber gloves wedged under the sink. Seriously. She was friendly, polite, and seemed relatively sober. On the other (gloved) hand, I guess you’d probably have to be at least half drunk to slide your paws into those putrid, piss covered septic slime bags.
They look like they’re being crucified between those pipes.
To conclude my review, I’ll say that this little pot on the prairie doesn’t get a very good score from me. Even though the toilet paper was well-stocked, and the room’s odour didn’t make me audibly retch—my overall experience was unenjoyable.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend washing up here before enjoying your meal, unless you don’t want to enjoy it at all. If you’re taking a date to Pho Anh Sang this Valentine’s Day, have fun! But be sure to take care of your “number two’s” at home, before you decide to order the “No. 22.”
I’ll leave you with a Bruce Lee quote that I feel is somehow relevant here. I know this is a Vietnamese restaurant and Bruce Lee was Chinese, but what the fuck do you really care? I believe this particular quote can be applied to Pho Anh Sang’s decor, their restroom, and even the human digestive system itself:
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own”
– Bruce Lee
Toilet Paper Rating: 1 / 5