Educate me about the foods/snacks in Chinatown
I work around the area and am looking for some easy to take-out meals/snacks/must try foods. Everytime I walk the area I get overwhelmed and am unsure of what to try.
Things in particular I am interested in are pho, bahn mi, and chinese snacks. Combo meals would be nice too. My knowledge of asian food is not up to par, so any recs for things that are must try's would be nice.
If you like Pocky, and you like salty snacks, try Pretz. They do tomato or pizza flavoured ones which are totally addictive. I think one of the uber-hip bars on Dundas was using them as a Caesar garnish.
Also, for cheap eats, try Buddha's Vegetarian on Dundas near Bathurst. A huge bowl of mushroom noodle soup will cost less than a latte would.
You're lucky to work in that area, pancake. Lots of great suggestions so far--you could walk a couple of blocks east on Baldwin to Yung Sing Bakery. Lots of delicious, well labelled quick lunches/snacks there. Also, for bahn mi, try Nguyen Hong on Spadina just below St. Andrew's, I think. I like them spicy, so just order a spicy bahn mi--$1.50.
You're correct. Nguyen Huong is on the west side of Spadina just south of St. Andrew.
Also, Mother's Dumplings is a favourite of mine, though I haven't been there recently:
For bakeries, I'm partial to Kim Moon, which is on Dundas between Spadina & Beverley. It's quite close to Mother's Dumplings if I remember correctly.
If you are curious about the Chinese BBQ hanging in the windows, you can get them on rice to go. E.g. Soya sauce chicken, roast duck, flattened duck, roast pork.. and you can get more than one choice at a time. Also you can have them in noodle soup, but that gets more messy.
Try Dumpling House on the west side north of Dundas, you can go for a meal or just grab a dozen fried or boiled (OMG get the fried ones!!!) to go...my fave's are pork + shrimp or pork + fennel...nearby there are some vietnamese food shops with many pre-packagesd items (very cheap) you can try, like gloriana said, these have Bahn mi at them (vietnamese sub sandwiches), another interesting item is the shrimp toast, you'll see them...and that is exaclty what they are...I wish there was more of a street food offering in the area...you could also try some exotic fruit from the street side stalls, I'd recommend mangostein's, like nothing else I've ever had...
For Spadina/Dundas Chinatown, Pho Hung is always a solid pick for pho. People slag Pho 88, but I like them.
Banh mi are so cheap, you can't go wrong trying one; they usually go for under two dollars. Get assorted (meats!) if you're not vegetarian.
Really, Asian food is so cheap ... you can try meals here and there and it won't burn a hole in your pocket. If something looks good, it probably is. I like eating quick lunches (noodles, rice) at House of Gourmet and King's Noodle. These places are cheap, quite clean, and often filled with people.
I don't eat many Chinese snacks, but Pocky are a mainstay of many.
I haven't offered much, not being an expert, but hopefully this will get the ball rolling for you and for other commentators to contribute.
These are all solid suggestions.
Another great snack option is Furama Bakery, which offers a great selection of savoury and sweet buns. Most aren't too odd if you're not used to Asian ingredients, but do watch out for the generous slathers of mayo on some of the savoury buns if that's not your scene (ham and cheese, for example). At $1 to $2 apiece, you can afford to experiment with several different kinds.