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Help - forced to eat at Spring Rolls! Is there ANYTHING decent there?

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will be forced to eat at Spring Rolls this weekend (Front St location) . I've only eaten there once (a terrible pad thai) and hadn't ever planned to eat there again. I know how chowhounders feel about this place...but is there anything decent I can eat there? Alternately, are there any suggestions for a decent restaurant close by (or further west), with a similar variety and price range? I MAY be able to convince my party to change locations but only if it fits these criteria. Thanks!!

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  1. No experience with the Front Street location, but I've enjoyed the "sexy summer roll" along with their version of pho gai at a couple other Spring Rolls.

    1. perhaps eating something else beforehand and then just ordering an appetizer and drinks at the actual dinner.

      You can just tell your friends that you're not terribly hungry. That has saved me from eating some truly heinous food in the past.

      1. If my is arm is completely twisted to go there, then I am partial to the Vietnamese bbq chicken and pork.

        1. Stick to the appetizers, with the exception of the sui mai (blech). Fried things are ok, summer rolls are ok. Lettuce wraps are edible, but way salty.

          1. I used to enjoy the mango salad with satay chicken skewers with peanut sauce and rice. Nice light meal that didn't get too messed up....except when the chicken skewers came out pink on more than one occassion. You'll be fine.

            7 Replies
            1. re: food face

              When I've gone to SR, I've found the chicken satay skewers to be fairly decent, along with the mango salad (though, at times, I've found the mango to be a bit underripe). Also, as mentioned by someone, the lettuce wraps aren't bad (I've never found them overly salty...but I'm a bit of a salt lover). I also find the shrimp dumplings to be pretty reliable (hard to screw them up).

              Though I normally love spring rolls, and you'd think that theirs would be good given their name, I've found theirs to be highly uninspired.

              1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                You mean they got something right by accident?? because mango salad is supposed to be made with unripe green mangos so it's more like a vegetable. Run of the mill restos use ripe sweet mangos because they are much easier/cheaper to come by.

                1. re: Teep

                  I guess so... Who knew? It's wrong, obviously, but I prefer the mangoes to be somewhat ripe (not super-ripe though) because I find the really underripe ones very hard to digest.

                  1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                    I can see that the mango salad may not be authentic but they used a good quantity of tasty mangoes (I like green mangoes and ripe "normal" ones) and a nice light dressing that complemented the taste. So overall, a good experience at an otherwise not so great restaurant.

                  2. re: Teep

                    My thoughts exactly: almost every green mango salad I've had in Toronto was made with shockingly ripe mangoes and was, as a result, way too sweet.

                    1. re: vorpal

                      Actually, many places get away with it by calling it just "mango salad". If you don't know any better, you'd think that ripe mangoes is the right ingredient.

                      1. re: Teep

                        Interesting! I hadn't noticed that.

              2. I've managed to get by a few times by snacking beforehand and then just going with the mango salad.

                1 Reply
                1. re: maritimah

                  I second the motion to eat before you leave and have appetizers. Spring Rolls has been on an extreme downward spiral for some time (or maybe I remember it being decent before because my palate hadn't developed yet??). In any case, you will fit right in by ordering apps and also save your money for a better meal elsewhere!

                2. Last time I had it, the mango salad wasn't too bad. Ditto the vermicelli plate. I'd probably stay away from the chicken though, wasn't well trimmed the last two times I met someone there.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: plainjane_to

                    Ok - mango salad and appetizers it is! Thanks guys!

                    1. re: zainab13

                      I second the mango salad though I haven't eaten at SR in quite awhile. I also sometimes used to like the curry pud thai but that's hit and miss.

                      1. re: Ediblethoughts

                        I third the mango salad.. it was pretty decent.. the mangos were pretty fresh with some light fish sauce dressing

                        The skewers were a bit dry.. but whatever WAY better than anything else SR has to offer =D

                  2. I agree with a lot of people here. Eat something first and then get the mango salad. There drinks are pretty good.

                    1. Been in that boat several times. It's a tough one, because even when my wife and I have managed to find something somewhat edible on one visit, it has turned out to be awful the next time we're dragged there. So it's all a gamble. They mystery of why non-foodies are drawn to this chain with such zeal deserves an in depth scientific study.

                      1. I have never been a fan of this place. Was also forced to go a few weeks ago and had the Lemongrass beef. By far the best dish I have had at this place.

                        1. Spring Rolls is the bane of my existence. I'm probably forced to go there about once or twice a year. I'd say you can go with pho or maybe a ho fun. Even if you're paying twice as much as you would if you were going to a real pho place.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Crispier Crouton

                            I respectfully disagree on the pho. Broth tastes like the powdered pho-flavour packets you stir into hot water and it comes with mushy ho fun noodles!

                            Like others, I would stick with the mango salad.

                          2. The chain is much, much worse than back before it was a chain.

                            But every 6 months or so, I get a craving for their satay pad thai, with lots of extra hot sauce. It's one of the few pad thais I enjoy in the city, even if every once in a while, a shrimp is still cold in the middle.

                            The lettuce wraps are also tasty.

                            Green Onion on Dundas is probably too far away for you to suggest it as an alternate, and Mengrai Thai is a similar distance away, and not pan-Asian. But they're both very good.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Adrock75

                              I concur with the comment about it being better before it was a chain. I actually loved the Yonge & Bloor location way back when it first opened. Of course, pan asian was more of a novelty back then but SR used fresher veg and I think the quality of the dishes was overall just better---then.

                            2. Don't know if the take out is the same or not, but once in a while when I feel like junk food I get their General Tso Chicken from the counter at Yonge/Bloor and it's not bad.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Teep

                                Haven't been forced to go there in a while but the last time I had the General Tso Chicken, I almost went into a diabetic coma! It was disgustingly sweet - and I have a sweet tooth.

                                And as an Asian person, I am grossly offended by the liberties they have taken with the cuisine. If you blindfolded a Chinese person and fed them some of the pseudo-Chinese dishes, there's probably only a 1/100 chance it would be identified as "Chinese food" and that's being generous.

                                I do however have to admit that the drinks were ok.

                                1. re: chefhound

                                  Is it really supposed to be Chinese? I always assumed it was that monstrous "fusion."