Old Ottawa South locals are fighting to return a signature dish to a tiny Vietnamese restaurant that was forced to pull its beef pho off the menu over a building code violation.

Chez Anh opened six months ago on Sunnyside Avenue and has quickly become a neighbourhood favourite. 

But shortly after the launch, owner Anh Nguyen discovered his ventilation system wasn't up to code — something he didn't think to check when he bought the place. 

The system's ducts are 10 centimetres wide, but inspectors told him they need to be 15 centimetres wide, Nguyen said.

Because preparing the beef for the broth creates so much grease, Nguyen said he had to take it off the menu until the vents can be fixed. 

Chez Anh beef pho ottawa

Chez Anh's speciality is this beef pho. (Katie Hession/GoFundMe)

"This entire process has been a six-month long learning curve, and I don't think the learning will ever end," Nguyen told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Monday.

Nguyen said he's had to reduce his staff's hours to try and save money. The beef pho was his best seller, and he's had to substitute the homemade dish with chicken pho made from store-bought ingredients. 

"I would prefer to sell food I make from scratch," he said. 

'Save the noods'

When a frequenter of his restaurant heard about the problem, she decided to start a GoFundMe campaign on Nguyen's behalf. 

 "I was a bit heartbroken for him, cause I know he's been pouring his heart and soul into the business," said Katie Hession. 

An Instagram aficionado, Hession used her account to promote the fundraiser. So far, she's raised $625 to help fund the vent replacement. 

"I'm getting a reputation as the girl who wants to save the noods — the noodles," she laughed. 

Nguyen said he was touched by the community's efforts.

"The neighbours don't want us to close."