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Dec 15, 2008 03:09 PM

Need a Pho Fix

Hey everyone,

I have a serious craving for some pho in the city - I live next to bloor and spadina and I do not have a car.

So who can recommend some fantastic pho in the neighborhood that isn't Pho Hung?

I've been eating at Saigon Pearl and I've noticed - it's not as tasty anymore!! Maybe the economic downspin has effected prices of MSG... who knows.

Looking forward to your responses!

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  1. Oh..... you dont want MSG... you want REAL flavour!!!!! Pho Pasteur, on the SW corner of spadina and dundas. It's ON dundas. Yummy. Very beefy.

    13 Replies
    1. re: jennjen18

      don't tease me jennjen! yummy and beefy without the msg? I am so happy - I can have a night minus a headache!
      This is a bit of a thrill!!!
      thank you!

        1. re: jennjen18

          Second this. Pho Pasteur is my favorite in Chinatown.

          1. re: Wahooty

            +1 for Pho Pasteur......

            I am there every weekend for my pho fix.....

      1. re: jennjen18

        i've been two times and had two totally different experiences there
        First time was awesome and i was thankful for the chow rec
        second time i went the broth was nearly inedible because it was so insanely salty!
        anyone else come across broth at pasteur that was like this?
        I never went back there after that experience.

        1. re: CoffeeAddict416

          The saltiness does vary - I think based on how long that particular pot has been sitting on the stove, boiling down. :) I've never had it so salty it was inedible, but I do have a pretty high salt tolerance (I sometimes think I must have been a deer in a past life). But it is still the only place in that area where I actually finish the broth and don't want to overload it with sriracha.

          Oh, and canadianbeaver, while Pho Pasteur does sometimes bring you ngo gai/sawtooth herb/Vietnamese coriander, you are under no obligation to use it. When I go with my friends, nobody fights me for it, which is fine by me. :)

        2. re: jennjen18

          Is it true this place doesn't use MSG? Are there many other vietnamese restaurants that don't use MSG?

          1. re: ultimate4g63

            I wouldnt say that they dont use MSG... nor do I really know. However, the beefy flavour is there... unlike most places that overuse their salt.

          2. re: jennjen18

            I'll second jennjen18's suggestion for Pho's the only good place for pho in Chinatown. It's also open 24 hours so you can satisfy your pho craving anytime. Too bad about not having a car, the really good stuff is in the west end of North York @ Pho Dau Bo.

            1. re: gtafoodie

              I used to go to Pho Hung a lot before I discovered Pho Pasteur,this was like 8-9 months back....since then i have only gone to Pho Pasteur atleast once a week.....but today I decided to do a taste check and went to Pho Hung and thats when i realised that I had made a wise decision.....I cant explain but compared to Pho Pasteur,the broth at Pho Hung almost tasted synthetic and the noodles were soft compared to the al dente texture we get at Pho Pasteur ......and yet the Pho Hung is packed to its its Pho Pasteur all the way.....

              1. re: warlock

                I think the phenomenon of why Pho Hung is packed to its gills is because of its location. Pasteur is tucked away on Dundas, ... whereas Hung is front and centre on Spadina.

                1. re: jennjen18

                  My minor quibble w/ Pasteur is the quality of the meat, they could do better. I also wish it was served raw so I can control the cooking by mixing it in with the broth. I wouldn't mind if they actually served less meat and gave more noodles, it's simply too much meat.

                  It is still the go to spot for pho in chinatown. For other dishes I go to Anh Dao, but they close early as opposed to my usual cravings that are satisfied by Pasteur at 2am.

                  1. re: aser

                    Well you can always ask them to serve the meat seperately.....but yes I do agree the quality of the meat could be better........
                    I dont want to say this but the beef at Pho Hung tasted so much better.....

          3. golden turtle - on ossington just north of queen.

            1. I've never had Pho before, but that's because I'm afraid of the cilantro/coriander...does all Pho come with that in it?

              10 Replies
              1. re: canadianbeaver

                It doesn't come in it. It comes next to it, to add with bean sprouts, etc. So if you don't like cilantro, you don't have to add it.

                1. re: pescatarian

                  Don't fear coriander, Canadian Beaver. You'll start to appreciate it's sublime fragrance and will never turn back. Besides, most of the green you'll get with your Pho is basil.

                  The trip to Golden Turtle (not a very far one) is definitely worth it. They seem to be among the rare few who still take pride in a complex broth.

                  1. re: Fishchip

                    Pho Pasteur is awesome, and the server's a hoot. And c'mon, open 24 hrs to boot? Fuhgedaboutit!

                    The cilantro/coriander thing, though? It's fairly commonly known that many people have a huge aversion to it, and that it's not any sort of regular distaste, but rather, of the "this is among the foulest taste or smell I can imagine", or "it tastes of burning plastic or horrible soap!" variety. It's possibly genetic, though there are some people who have eventually acquired a taste for it. Take a look at some of the vitriol spouted on this site though :)

                    various user submitted haikus:

                    Oh awful green herb
                    Nature has no such other
                    heinous creation

                    Look, yummy salsa!
                    Grab a chip and dip it in
                    Look at me gagging.

                    you are incorrect
                    no i will not acquire it
                    a taste for burning plastic

                    Secret cilantro!
                    Why did you not disclose this?
                    I can't eat this now.

                    Poor helpless taste buds
                    Grisly death if there was one
                    Damn you cilantro

                    A warm soapy bath
                    of cilantro and spices
                    held inside my mouth.

                    You don't belong here,
                    Evil usurper of taste
                    Kudzu of the plate

                    Messed up my haiku
                    Made it Seven Five Seven
                    I blame cilantro

                  2. re: pescatarian

                    Awesome. I look forward to trying Pho for the first time this weekend! It's one of the only foods that Toronto serves that I haven't tried yet...

                    1. re: canadianbeaver

                      Just want to update this to say that I am now a big lover of Pho (still with no coriander/cilantro). Although my favourite is the one my partner makes at home (from a Chatelaine recipe, actually), I have been to Pho Hung, Asian Bowl, Zyng and Spring Rolls. I have to say that despite Chowhound's negative attitude towards Spring Rolls, I really liked their Pho. Lots of meat and the broth wasn't bad.

                  3. re: canadianbeaver

                    When you order,ask the server that you dont want the cilantro/coriander.....

                    1. re: warlock

                      Sometimes the best places to eat though are the places that don't understand requests necessarily - or the gravity of this request. :)

                    2. re: canadianbeaver

                      my experience has been that it depends on the place you go to. i abhor coriander, and while most places i go to don't put it in (i don't even usually get it on the side with the bean sprouts), there are some times where i get an unwelcome surprise. i guess i could avoid this if i made sure to ask when ordering it at new places...

                      1. re: auberginegal

                        FYI - Most Toronto Pho Restaurants serve Thai Basil as an accompaniment not coriander or cilantro.
                        I can't eat either coriander or cilantro because I have a SEVERE allergic reaction to it when eaten raw.
                        Thai Basil I'm good. A little lime, a little thai basil, lots of sprouts and a side of hot sauce - yum yum yum!
                        Yes, Pho Pasteur was delicious!
                        +1 Pho Pasteur!!

                        Thanks Jennjen! I had a great bowl of soup last night thanks to your recommendation!

                        1. re: sweatersister

                          Oh I'm so glad! :) I've only found this place like a few months ago.. and I've been in love with pho for soooo long. I came upon it when my vegetarian SO told me about it. His friend took him there to have a veggie stir fry, while the friend had a pho... but he loved the stir fry there... so, I tried pho there. Loved it at first taste. :)

                    3. A Vietnamese friend recently *highly* recommended Pho Linh on College (just past Dufferin). Can't wait to try it! :p

                      Pho Linh Restaurant
                      1156 College St, Toronto, ON M6H1B6, CA

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JonasBrand

                        If you're going to walk this far, try the place on the SE corner of College & Sheridan.
                        I don't even know the name but it's my favorite.

                        1. re: otidra

                          The name of the place is Phoang Hoang. I like this place too and if you are going to Pho Linh you will be forced to go anyway because Pho Linh is closed for renovations till the end of the month!

                      2. Does anyone know of any good Pho places in the East? Danforth, Gerrard?

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: eateatTO

                          que ling on Bolton st just south of Gerrard, known for their banh cuon and bun bo hue. Good pho too....

                          1. re: aser

                            I go to Golden Turtle on Ossington and have the rare Beef and Tendon it's fantastic.

                          2. re: eateatTO

                            Absolutely. Go south to Queen and Leslie - it's called Hanoi 3 Seasons, at the top of a little street called Larchmount. Service is welcoming and you feel like family, food is excellent and perfect on cold winter days. Try the clams to start.

                            1. re: eateatTO

                              no idea why some people frown on De Xuala (sp?) on Gerrard east of Broadview (green sign, choochoo train on it. on the south side near Degrassi St).
                              we are always happy with our pho there.
                              i always get rare beef and beefballs with the homemade rice noodles. very nice broth with a cinnamonny flavour to it. very full bodied.

                              anyone know if most/all Vietnamese restos use MSG in their pho? i was told that it pretty much is a standard ingredient.

                              1. re: atomeyes

                                Yes, they all use a lots of MSG, if not why is your broth taste so good ? I usually only eat Pho at home, the ingradient used to make the broth easily exceed $6 per bowl.

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  I like Xe Lua (Choo-choo train) on Gerrard very much, but some dishes are much better than others. If you're a fan of curried goat, this is a highlight of the menu. The pho is good too, though not one of the best I've ever had. I notice that most people order pho there, or else rice dishes, so use that as an indicator of what's good to order. I've tried a vegetarian sate noodle soup (not great) and a seafood soup, nothing exciting.

                                  There's a Hanoi 3 Seasons across the street on Gerrard, though the new one on Queen has more ambiance and flair. Food and service there are a cut above the average Viet joint, but bear in mind that their menu is smaller and not as focused on pho and simple rice or noodle combos. It is more of a restaurant experience than any of the soup kitchen-esque places.

                                  I think MiMi Gardens also deserves a visit. My one and only experience at Que Ling was not a great one. Must have been an off day for the kitchen. I found my pho salty, flat, rather than complex in spicing and pretty greasy. They were out of bun bo hue that day. I also enjoyed Peach Garden further east on Gerrard. The menu is quite large there, with lots of veggie options. I ate veggie there, but my SO had pho and proclaimed it pretty good. I have yet to receive the sawtooth herb anywhere along Gerrard, though. That is a bit disappointing, considering it is sold in a few of the stores all along that street.

                                  1. re: 1sweetpea

                                    Yeah, those places are ok. But still prefer to make vietnamese food at home ... we are making the Vinegar beef hot pot of Bo 7 Mon tonight.

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      I agree -- it's better made at home. Then I don't just use one half sliver of lime, I can give myself as much as I want!

                              2. re: eateatTO

                                eateat, the best Pho restaurant in the city was at Warden and Eglinton. When they first opened they only used real bone broth, the place was packed and lineups out the door anytime of the year, their prices were very reasonable as well, but lately, I think they changed cooks, and we noticed that the broth had alot of MSG, they may have gotten lazy and complacent and thought customers would not notice, but it used to be the best. Also, they raised the price of everything on their menu by $1.00. I'm very disappointed now and in search once again for the best pho in toronto.

                                1. re: ramseywannabe

                                  my friends and I frequent the Xe Lua location on Spadina south of Dundas