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toronto noodle adventure - suggestions wanted

I have a trip to Toronto planned for Saturday sept 15 till wed Sept 19th.
Figuring one meal on Sat (dinner) and two meals each for the 16 17 and 18, and lunch only on the 19th.
I'm looking to try as much of the best Pho / Ramen / Thai Boat Soup etc as I can during the visit.
I would also like to try Dim Sum which I have never tried before. Thats on Sundays only usually, yes?
Recommendations please!
Dan

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  1. dim sum is an everyday thing depending on the restaurant.

    one of the most authentic but potentially intimidating experiences would be dimsum at forestview for beginners. a few of my visits way back when produced a few cart pushers with limited but helpful english, recently the english has been waning but they are none too eager to lift up the lids to show you exactly what they've got. on weekdays there is a $2 happy hour and i think it ends just before the lunch crowd. there are some posts in the history about forestview.

    if you know of the names of some of the dishes you might be interested in trying and do not see them on the carts or really just want to try them.. one of the many m'aitre d like peopel will just get it for you fresh staight from the kitchen.

    do not hunt for ramen here, there will be little to impress.

    7 Replies
    1. re: pinstripeprincess

      Just noticed your comment on ramen and had to reply. I have been to Kenzo a few times and was very impressed. Here's a link to another board. Toronto has ramen that certainly seems to impress some seemingly knowledgeable people.

      http://toronto.ourfaves.com/things/Ja...

      1. re: Scary Bill

        i thought kenzo was just ok but haven't been able to get to their tonkotsu. there's only two people on that link that list it as faves.

        i just dont' think that a ramen hunt will be all that productive in toronto. so few places offer it as is and not that many offer up a great version. that's simply my point.

        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          I found Kenzo really disappointing, comparatively with ramen shops in NYC (and even true ramen enthusiasts find ramen shops in NYC mediocre to bad in comparison with Japan). It does make a stab at authenticity, just not a very good one.Their chashu was flavourless (simply seemed like boiled pork to me) and their shoyu stock without much depth. But maybe I need to give the miso, shio, and tonkotsu ramen tries before I avoid it altogether.

          I also agree that a ramen hunt in Toronto seems fruitless in that there are no places which specialise in ramen wholeheartedly and in a reasonably authentic fashion. Of Kenzo and Ajisen, the latter is a chain whose ramen is not really ramen (IMO) and the former, well, I'll have to see after a few more times eating at both locations. However, when cravings for ramen become overwhelming, Kenzo is the best one can settle for in Toronto.

          Another place to get handmade soba is J-Town up on Steeles. (I wonder if they get their soba from Soba Canada like Hiro Sushi...) Their bakery offers soba lunch on Tuesdays (12 PM-2PM), but only with reservations and limited to 20/day. The information is in their "Monthly Special" news bulletin. (http://www.japantown.ca/)

          1. re: lsk

            I can be guilty at times but this thread is rather pessimistic to say the least. On that note....

            Kenzo is Korean owned so their flavours tend to have a spicy slant to it. Although the owner/chef did train in Japan. I would take a pass on the shio/miso/shoyu, the tonkotsu though is good if needing to satisfy a ramen craving. It is by far their best offering. I would otherwise pass on ramen anywhere else in the city.

            Soba Sunday at Hiro is the real deal, expensive but worth it. It might be a bit intimidating for a first timer though. Worth the reward.

            Now, there are a plethora of noodle choices, the best being Chinese oriented. A highlight will be Sun's Kitchen in Pacific Mall, in the heritage food court upstairs. It has been talked about many a times on this board, do a search. I also quite enjoy the various chunk beef soup noodle found in various Shanghai restaurants in this city. My fav is actually one at the food court in First Markham Place. It's the one closest to the left of the stage.

            http://www.flickr.com/photos/aser/159...

            Vietnamese is talked about below but my recommendations are Que Ling, Golden Turtle, and Anh Dao. Don't just stick to pho, try other things like the bun bo hue at Que Ling.

            For Thai I like Vanipha Lanna which is Laotian Thai.

            http://www.vanipha.ca/

            1. re: aser

              re: Kenzo - spicey is not a problem. I love a good spicey noodle soup. Tonkotsu ramen is also a fave of mine. Sorry to hear there is not much Ramen in the city - Im a huge fan of good Ramen.

              Thats being said, I really like to try other varietys of noodle soups.

              Whats is Soba Sunday? Is that a special they run at Hiro's on Sunday? Not sure what you mean be it possibly being intimidating. I've had soba many times - whats different about Hiros?
              Sounds very interesting.
              Wow that shanghai beef noodle soup looks amazing! Thats exactly the kind of dish I want to find on my adventure!
              re:viet - sure Im open to other types of noodle soups. I'm not sure what bun bo hue or Vanipha Lanna are - Ill do a search after I post this & find out.

              Thanks to you (and all the others who replied) I will print everything out & take with me!

              1. re: aser

                aser - one question - what is the name of that soup on your flickr album, the pic between the "shanghai fried noodles" and the "eel"??
                Is it Bakso? Looks great!

                1. re: aser

                  completely agree with aser about the noodles at Sun's Kitchen.....well worth the trip!

        2. There are many, many threads on these topics, so I suggest you search this board.

          The heart of Chinatown is Spadina and Dundas. There are dozens of great places within a block or two in any direction. For Dim Sum, which is available any day of the week, and at some restaurants all day, Roll San is moderately priced and very good, while Lai Wah Heen (north of City Hall) is expensive-by dim sum standards- and the best you will ever have.

          1. pinstripeprincess: Ill check out forestview!
            Scarybill - Thanks, Ill look into Kenzo. I have been searching the boards (read the 10 most recent pages so far!) I like your idea of exploring Chinatown, I'll have to put that at top of my list. Any special Thai or Viet restaurants you recommend?
            Really looking forweard to my visit, havent been there in many years.

            3 Replies
            1. re: drmlabs

              Avoid Thai food in Toronto completely. There are no offerings here worth your time: the food is all boring and heavily North Americanized, and some of the worst I've had, which is disappointing because the availability of Thai ingredients here is very good. Save your Thai food experience for a visit to a different city, follow some of the hound recs here, and appreciate instead what Toronto does well.

              1. re: vorpal

                Thai Bistro. On Yonge between Sheppard and Finch. Run by a Thai family. Not North Americanized.

              2. re: drmlabs

                I know this isn't what you said you were looking for, so please everybody hold the slagging, but if you are walking around Chinatown, and you want to have a non-noodle treat after days of noodles, just a block north of Dundas and west of Spadin you enter the Kensington Market district. It is an old market area with , among the butchers, fromageries, etc, several Latin American restaurants/street food stalls that sell empanadas and pupusas. If you've never had them, you will find them quite interesting. Latin American beverages are available as well.

              3. soba sundays:
                http://www.sobacanada.com/
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/304584

                forestview is happy hour from 10am to 4pm non-holiday weekdays.


                Chow!
                HL.

                1. I think that noodle-wise, toronto has good pho, hk-styled noodles, ie. wonton, beef brisket or tendon noodles, and northern chinese noodles. for hk-styled, try yaukee (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/432563) at steeles and middlefield for bamboo beaten wonton noodles. they're the best ive had by far in toronto.

                  for pho, again uptown (sorry dude, hope you have a mode of transportation) at midland and finch is vietnam noodle star. run by non-vietnamese, but tastiest in my opinion. their soup is rich, and noodles so slurp-able. i think i have a craving for it every 3 days.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: jennjen18

                    There's also a Pho place on Kennedy between Ellesmere and Lawrence, called Pho Vietnam that's pretty good. It's kind of higher end, but well, you can't really be high end with Pho... Their jumbo shrimp with rice(not sure what the exact name is, but it's the most expensive rice dish) is really good too. Try that!

                    On the other end of the city, Pho Mi 99 on Dixie and Dundas has the best Hue style Pho that I've tried in GTA. The one at Eglinton and Hurontario is good too but not as good though.

                    Ramen at Konnichiwa in Baldwin village is good. I liked it more than Kenzo, but may be that's just me. Don't eat the sushi there though...

                    There are a number of Korean places in Toronto too. You can try Jam pong(spicy noodle soup), or Moo Naeng Mein(Cold beef noodle soup) at any one of them, since I haven't found one to be outstanding yet, but most are acceptable. There was a really good one when I lived in Vancouver, but when I went back last time, the old couple that used to own it passed the shop to their son in law, and it just wasn't the same...

                    1. re: wciu

                      I agree that the jumbo shrimp with rice is really good at Pho Vietnam. The sauce of the shrimp is so tasty and good to eat with rice !

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        After our first trip to Vietnam in January, we went on a quest to find the best Pho in Toronto.
                        Our first choice after more than a dozen recommended places was Pho 88 on Bamburgh Circle.
                        You can google the thread as there were many opinions and suggestions, and it became very long.
                        We have since tried the few mentioned that we had not been to, and Pho 88 is still our first choice for Pho.
                        Our only disappointment was that they didn't serve saw, which we consider a vital ingredient.
                        We didn't compare the other foods.

                        1. re: erly

                          which ones have you been to?


                          Chow!
                          HL.

                          1. re: erly

                            Pho Phuong on Dundas West has saw in their pho.

                            1. re: cowhound

                              What is saw? Are you guys refering to Phakchi Farang?

                              I've been to:
                              Pho Vietnam - above average, quality of ingredients seems higher. Has PCF, plus more variety of veggies depending on what you order. Generally, their "alternative" pho(non beef and different styles) are better than what you get elsewhere in the city except for Pho Hue. Jumbo Shrimp Rice is good!

                              Vietnam Noodle Star - Above Avg, but don't go there often. Feels more like a HK place than a pho place... And it is...

                              Pho Mi 99 Dixie & Dundas - Above average, good for Pho Hue. I am not sure, but might have cleanliness issues, but I take risks for favor....

                              Pho Mi 99 Eglinton & Hurontario - Above average, quality close to Dixie & Dundas, seems cleaner too.

                              Golden Turtle - Only been there once, wasn't really impressed, probably gonna go back and check it out again. It has beef 7 ways
                              that I want to try.

                              Pho 88 at Alton Towers - below avg.

                              The one at Metro Square, I think it's 88 - below avg.

                              Various "Train" Pho - none of the existing ones are good - taste varies, but I generally avoid them, except for the one as Woodside Square.
                              Not because of good food, but because it's convenient.... There used to be one at Yonge and Steeles, haven't been there for a long time. That used to be the best of the train Pho's, and the Jumbo Shrimp rice was as good as Pho Vietnam.

                              Pretty much everyone on Spadina - Most of them are below avg. to avg. Nothing really special...

                              A different Pho 99 at Hwy 7 and Mccowan - Avg. taste, quiet place. Again convenience more than taste....

                              Another question. Do you prefer dried noodles or fresh noodles?! :)

                              1. re: wciu

                                Fresh noodles much preferred.

                              2. re: cowhound

                                I thought that the broth at Phuong was O.K.
                                The meat was sparse and chewy, and the tendon was mush.
                                It might have been an off night, but have not returned.
                                Too bad, because it is the "saw" that finishes the pho for us.

                              3. re: erly

                                Granted, Pho 88 @ Bamburgh is always crowded, but I always feel a little dirty/greasy when I leave (not that that stops me from going). It's good for an inexpensive bowl of pho.

                                Another good place nearby is Pho Viet at Warden/Steeles (same strip as Ajisen Ramen). $5.15 for a small, $5.95 for a medium, and a substantial difference in size. I saw a large feed a couple, but I don't share my pho! Fast, friendly service, not too greasy, and I really like their broth. And they have an excellent Vietnamese coffee (with condensed milk, of course)....mmm.......

                            2. re: wciu

                              I whole heartedly agree that Pho Mi 99 on Dixie and Dundas has the best Hue style Pho in the GTA - they also have something like 8 or 9 types of Hue style Pho! You're lucky if you find one decent Bun Bo Hue in most Pho places.

                          2. Ematai on St Patrick has a pretty tasty ramen noodle. It is frequented by lots of Japanese businessmen (that's a good sign, right?) ;) It has a huge menu - don't get distracted - focus on the ramen. Oddly enough, I like the ramen noodle at Tokyo Kitchen on Charles street (e of Yonge). It reminds me of the noodle shops outside of the Tokyo subway stations.

                            For something really different, I recommend a lunch at Okonomi House also on Charles street (w of Yonge). Okonomi is a specialty of Hiroshima. It's a fat omelet thickened with flour and jewelled with bay scallops, shrimps, or whatever tickles your fancy. it is finished with a smear of bbq sauce(?) and a squeeze of kewpie sauce. nums! it's the only one in town and it is good enough to rival the shops in Hiroshima. trust me!

                            Best rare beef pho - I think is Golden Turtle on Ossington. Some people dis it but I could eat it everyday. And great for the price. It also puts you in a great neighborhood if the day is nice.

                            If you have never tried dim sum and have the cash - do go to Lai Wah Heen in the Metropolitan hotel. Holy smokes. It will make your eyes roll to the back of your head. It's that good. But if you are interested in a more gritty authentic experience I am sure many of the post-ers have better suggestions in Chinatown or north of the city.

                            I also agree re: thai food in the city. Take a pass.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Apple

                              Haven't had the ramen at Ematei but their cooked dishes are the closest to an izakaya in Toronto. Their nabe yaki udon is one of my faves.

                              1. re: Apple

                                Ematei's ramen isn't great, but it's acceptable given the standard for ramen in the city. Kenzo was better, though I'm not sure now that they've changed management (I haven't been back recently).

                                Okonomi House is great, since I can't think of anywhere else that serves okonomiyaki, but it's not as good as it is in Japan, unfortunately. It's relatively inexpensive though, so not a bad deal. They also have a pseudo hanbagu that isn't bad (but again, not really like the Japanese version). A quick correction though, Okonomi House serves more of a Kansai/Osaka-style okonomiyaki (mixed) than a Hiroshimi-style (layered).

                              2. Chinese noodles should provide more 'adventure' than their ramen/soba Japanese counterpart. For Cantonese style, there's Big Joy, 'Jen Jen', Congee King, Congee queen....etc. For Northern style, there's Hi Shanghai, Northern Dumpling Kitchen, Ding Tai Fung, 369...etc. Not all is great, but the choices and variations are many.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Sort of had a noodles night last night. Had the "Over the bridge" rice noodles in First Markham place's food court, which was much better than expected. The best I've had since Spicy Mama closed down. Then went to V2 for HK style wonton noodles, good as always. :)

                                  Personally, I think Chinese noodles are much more interesting than Ramen, at least in Toronto....

                                  1. re: wciu

                                    I think both Japanese ramen and Chinese noodle are interesting as both of them have a lots of variation. However, personally, I prefer Cantonese style wonton noodle which has a clear soup base than the heavy tonkotsu ramen, where both are very popular in its own criteria. It is a pity that I have not found a single wonton noodle place that even provide a "pass" grade or close to "pass" wonton noodle in Toronto. V2's noodle is way way way too akaline, not to mention it's jumbo boring wonton and lack of taste soupbase...it is just too bad with the high population of cantonese in Toronto.

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      When V2 first opened, their noodles had a much stronger ammonia taste than now. I think they've improved a lot. No where close to what you can get from the better ones like "Wing Wah" or "Mak Un Kee" for sure, but it's Toronto. :p

                                      It's kinda funny that you mentioned how but the wonton is though, we were talking about the exact same thing as we were eating it last night. I actually don't understand why "sai yung" is so big, as suppose to the ones that can be hiddened by the noodles in a smaller bowl. It must cost them more to make them so big. Just seems counter intuitive.

                                      1. re: wciu

                                        Still, the quality is just too bad. Toronto does better in a lots of other chinese food item like roasted pigeon or roasted BBQ, but not the most popular wonton noodle ?! For the cost, I guess it also has to do with the quality of ingradient other than the quantity of it. Maybe it shows that wonton noodle is really tough to master !

                                        1. re: skylineR33

                                          Hello skylineR33!
                                          I know you wasn't that impressed with ' Jen Jen''s won-ton noodle when you tried it out last year. Broth too salty for your liking?! Anyways, I was there two days ago and had the won-ton noodle again. Still think their's the best in TO. The noodle was extremely thin and chewy. Very very close to some of HK's best. The soup was still a bit salty but possessed the smell and taste of the flame toasted dried flounder. The thing I like the most is that JJ is the ONLY outfit in TO that actually uses shrimp eggs and the more expensive yellowing chives in their noodles rather than scallions. Just like Tasty, Mak's and Mak Man Kee in Hong Kong! If they would only drizzle some 'unhealthy' lard over the noodles too! That would make it really HK like!

                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            Yes, I agree the wonton noodle at JJ looks familiar with HK's compared to the others one in Toronto. However, base on my one visit, the soup is too artificial for my liking, the wonton wrap is brand, same goes with their noodle, just like the one I can get from a chinese store (maybe they use a different noodle back then ?). Wonton is ok as a whole though, but lack of the freshness smell and smoothness from the shrimp used and prepared. I will give it another try if I am in that area, hopefully it is only an off day on the day I tried it ?!

                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              Hey Charles, I've been on the look-out for the yellowing chives since you mentioned this in another posting on wonton noodles. I understand they are the standard in Hong Kong, but not here in Toronto. A new place in the Bamburgh mall (Warden&Steeles) named Yogi Noodles uses them. Also their broth had no/little hint of that alkaline or soapy taste common with most places. The wontons are the typical larger dumplings (I prefer smaller ones), but all in all, a new go-to place pour moi.

                                              1. re: T Long

                                                Tried Yogi. The noodle is not elastic at all, same as the one I can get at chinese grocery store. The only thing that is quite good is it's broth, at least I can find dried shrimp roe in it. I also tried their hot & sour pork meat sauce noodle (炸醬麵), the sauce is ok, not too bad, a nice one in Toronto area.

                                  2. If any chowhounders are interested in the 'Cantonese version of Jar Jeung Lo Mien - aka Noodles with spicy penny hot sauce' TASTY DELIGHT inside the First Markham Mall food court has the 'Best in TO' IMO. The authentically tasting sweet and spicy sauce with firm textured shredded pork is almost like HK's Mak Man Kee?!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      I went last Sunday to First Markham. Unfortunately, lady told us they were 'sold out' of the Jar Jeung Lo Mein. Did everyone go after Charles suggested it?

                                      Will try again next time.