HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
What have you made lately? Tell us about it

Iso authentic Vietnamese food

froglegs Oct 10, 2011 04:19 PM

We are planning a family trip to Vietnam. Would like to try some authentic cuisine( well as authentic as possible) here in TO. and hope chow hounders will recommend some good places in the gta, preferably downtown or west end. Thank you.

  1. Bobby Wham Oct 13, 2011 01:21 PM

    The soup stock at Pho My Duyen is king

    Pho My Duyen
    1208 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H, CA

    7 Replies
    1. re: Bobby Wham
      1sweetpea Oct 17, 2011 06:44 AM

      I tried the Pho Dau Bo on King St. in Kitchener and it paled in comparison to the Dundas (Mississauga) and Finch West locations in the GTA. The broth was fine, but the meat was of questionable quality. It seems the scruffiest, unchewable pieces were tossed into our bowls. I ordered the rare and brisket pho, hoping for some nice rare pieces and unctuous meaty brisket pieces. Instead, my rare beef was well done and the brisket was exactly 5 pieces of yellowish fat, all identical sizes and shapes. I took them to the manager and pointed out that there wasn't one scrap of meat on the plate. She said that that is exactly what they serve as brisket. I did expect the brisket to be on the fatty side, but not all fat. If I am incorrect in this assumption, and was served the appropriate cut, I'd love to know it, but I have ordered the same dish at tien thanh and was served the most lovely thick-ish pieces of brisket that weren't particularly fatty. I always wonder when my rare meat arrives well done if it was done intentionally because the quality of the meat is not good enough to actually serve rare.

      1. re: 1sweetpea
        aser Oct 17, 2011 09:26 AM

        Ask for rare beef on the side, I routinely do this @ tien thanh. They charge 50 cents extra, but give you more.

        What can I say? I'm a control freak. I like to determine how cooked it gets.

        1. re: aser
          1sweetpea Oct 17, 2011 10:33 AM

          I always forget to ask for rare beef on the side. What was up with the meat free fat globs posing as brisket, though? The manager at the Kitchener Pho Dau Bo told me that that's what people who order it want. Could it be so?

          1. re: 1sweetpea
            foodyDudey Oct 17, 2011 10:40 AM

            He must be the same guy who was working in a Chinese retaurant I was at about 20 years back. I pointed out a few dead fish in the tank of live fish, and he says " no they are not dead, they're sleeping" :-)

            1. re: foodyDudey
              hal2010 Oct 18, 2011 09:35 PM

              Did they have beautiful plumage? Perhaps they were nailed to the tank?

              Back on topic, I always find the brisket in pho to be fatty. Is it supposed to be? I think the meat is more about the texture than the taste, which is why you get those beef balls that are like erasers, tripe, tendon etc.

              1. re: hal2010
                1sweetpea Oct 19, 2011 08:19 AM

                Yes, brisket tends to be fatty, which is why I was so pleasantly surprised when the brisket I had at Tien Thanh was not. But, the Pho Dau Bo Kitchener brisket was ALL fat, which was such a turnoff.

                I agree with you, hal2010, that texture plays an important part in pho. I have grown to appreciate the springy beef balls, chewy tendon, soft rare beef and the flavour that the fatty cuts bring to the broth. I am not a tripe fan, but that's just me. My mind just rebels, though, at the thought of eating fat blobs. It just seems wrong.

                1. re: 1sweetpea
                  1sweetpea Mar 12, 2012 12:32 PM

                  Okay, so the last time I was Tien Thanh, I asked about this pho with the fat globs and was told that the English description is inadequate. It is not rare, brisket and tendon in the bowl, but rare and the FATTY tendon portion of the brisket. The server told me that many diners, mostly Asians, like the richness of that cut and order it regularly. When a non-regular patron orders that dish, they usually confirm that it is what they truly want, BUT ... if the server doesn't really speak English well and the diner is definitely an anglophone, they often skip the confirmation and just give regular brisket instead, to avoid the awkwardness of complaints and a bowl being returned to the kitchen. My guess is that when new pho joints create their menus, they look online and take the descriptions from other menus, because any place that offers this option seems to have the same ambiguous description. I'd love to provide a better description so that those that want the fatty brisket will get it and those that don't, won't. I can't deny that the fat globs make the broth taste AMAZING, but the fat just isn't what I want clogging my arteries.

    2. prima Oct 11, 2011 06:02 AM

      I like Pho Phuong for their broken rice platter. The crab that was being served at another table when I was last there looked interesting.

      Pho Phuong
      1603 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6K1T9, CA

      1. j
        junkie Oct 10, 2011 11:40 PM

        pho linh for banh cuon, hu tieu bo kho mon-thurs, bun bo hue fri - sun, pho made with fresh noodles (opposed to dried)
        pho tien thanh for pho, catfish sour soup or braised in pot
        pho phoenix for banh xeo, home style cooking plates
        peach garden (finch/weston), pho canh buom for "home style"
        que huong, rose's cafe for banh mi

        other random notables:
        pho con bo, banh cuon thanh

        any specific foods you're looking for? and how west?

        3 Replies
        1. re: junkie
          1sweetpea Oct 11, 2011 07:45 AM

          My all-time favorite hu tieu is in Windsor, at pho Nguyen hoang. You get a mix of seafood and BBQ pork on aid of rice and egg noodles. The dry version is served with a tasty seasoned soy sauce, small bowl of broth, lemons or limes, chiles and sprinkled with garlic chives and freshly fried crispy garlic slices. It is awesome. I have nothing even remotely similar in the GTA.

          On a different note, I tried Rua Vang on Ossington, aka Golden Turtle. The kitchen sink pho was missing brisket and tendon. The veggie version was uninspired. I thought both were lacking in anise and cinnamon. I was especially bummed to see no sawtooth herb or fresh chiles on the herb plate. As well, there was no cilantro in the pho. Otis or traditional, necessarily, but often replaces the sawtooth herb. Without either, I found the broth flat. I was sorry I did not try the bun rieu instead, but then again, maybe it would have been no better. Is it me or is this place totally overrated? We wound up there because it was the Sunday of thanksgiving and tien thanh was not opening that day until 1 pm.

          1. re: 1sweetpea
            1sweetpea Oct 11, 2011 07:51 AM

            Can't seem to fix my typos. I meant to say that the hu tieu is served with a combination of egg and rice noodles.

          2. re: junkie
            aser Oct 11, 2011 10:03 AM

            While not a fan at all of the overcooked noodles in their pho, pho linh brings it w/ the bo kho (beef stew) and banh cuon.

            I sound like a broken record but my fav pho in the city is def Tien Thanh, with Pho Con Bo second and Dau Bo 3rd. I also like the homey feel and super cheap prices of Que Ling.

            Anh Dao meat platters are great if you want to DIY your own rolls.

            Anh Dao Restaurant
            383 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G6, CA

          3. g
            gtafoodie Oct 10, 2011 07:27 PM

            I've heard Pho Cuu Long Mien Tay on St. Clair W has really good Bo 7 Mon and Banh Xeo. The owner is supposedly the original chef who made the awesome Banh Xeos at the old Mien Tay on Ossington. This place is next on my list for authentic vietnamese.

            1. foodyDudey Oct 10, 2011 04:28 PM

              Here's a place you may want to try, I haven't been in over a year but usually enjoyed it.


              14 Replies
              1. re: foodyDudey
                1sweetpea Oct 10, 2011 05:56 PM

                Having traveled throughout vietnam and dabbled fairly extensively in the GTA's Viet food scene, I would direct you to a handful of places for a variety of solid examples of Viet foods.

                For pho, Pho Dau Bo at Dundas and Dixie or Finch and Weston, or Tien Thanh at Ossington, north of Queen.

                For Cha Ca La Vong and other northern specialties, Hanoi 3 Seasons.

                I have heard that the broken rice dishes and Banh Xeo (coconut and egg crepe filled with shrimp, bean sprouts and pork) are tops at Pho Phuong.

                Beef 7 ways should be sampled at either Anh Dao on Spadina or Kim Bo On Bathurst at Dundas.

                Go to Que Ling for Bun Bo Hue, though I have seen many Bun Bo Hue adherents at Pho Dau Bo and Tien Thanh.

                I have not pursued bahn cuon in Toronto, but there is a thread devoted to it. I had it in Hanoi and it is worth a try.

                I have yet to try Pho Linh, but it is high on the list.

                Try Pho Linh, Tien Thanh and Peach Garden on Gerrard for Bun Rieu, which is a crab and shrimp paste soup.

                Xe Lua on Gerrard East does a really good goat curry soup.

                Though I have not been, Kim Bo apparently does some killer Cha gio , which are spring rolls.

                I have not had any mind blowing bun dishes, but my SO once had a really good stir-fried beef with lemongrass bun at Pho Dau Bo on Finch.

                When in Vietnam, seek out bun oc, which is a soup with snails, bung mang vit, which is a duck noodle soup (try it at Pho Phuong).

                Bon voyage! Try the Banh mi (sandwiches) in Vietnam first, then explore the GTA's offerings.

                Hanoi 3 Seasons
                588 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

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

                Pho Phuong
                1603 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6K1T9, CA

                Peach Garden
                45 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5B2H9, CA

                Anh Dao Restaurant
                383 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G6, CA

                Kim Bo Restaurant
                358 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5T2S6, CA

                Xe Lua Restaurant
                625 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y2, CA

                1. re: 1sweetpea
                  Charles Yu Oct 10, 2011 06:27 PM

                  Wow!! What a great list! Not just for the OP but the rest of us chowhounder community!! Thanks!!

                  1. re: 1sweetpea
                    Learn2CooknEat Oct 10, 2011 06:41 PM

                    Nice list. I had Bun Rieu Oc before.
                    Is that popular or more commonly eaten as Bun Rieu or Bun Oc?

                    1. re: Learn2CooknEat
                      1sweetpea Oct 10, 2011 08:00 PM

                      I have only seen Bun Oc at a place on Gerrard East, west of Logan. The name escapes me, but it is where Rose' Banh Mi used to be. I had a Cha ca, which was pretty good, but my SO's Pho ga was not. I have not had Pho ga worthy of mention in Toronto. In the central highlands of Vietnam, I tried a Pho ga that was pretty much done the same way as a rare beef Pho. The chicken breast, from a freshly killed chicken, was placed atop the steaming broth raw, and cooked in the hot soup. It was a bit unnerving, but without a doubt the freshest chicken I have ever tasted.

                      I had some pretty interesting items in Hue, but I have NEVER seen them in Canada. Banh khoai, plus these groovy cold salad rolls that were different from those served here, plus a Banh hoi (roll your own) experience in the highlands that had an unforgettable herb plate to accompany.

                      I visited the Cha ca la Vong restaurant in Hanoi and found that I prefer the versions I have tried on Gerrard East. Shocking, but true. I sampled dog meat with galangal in Hanoi. It was an experience, but one I may not repeat, now that I own a tiny and beloved chihuahua.

                      Vegetarian food in Buddhist veg restaurants was good, but I don't think the veg options here come close to the really elaborate and funky mock meats I tried in Vietnam.

                      Last comment: Huy Fong sriracha is the bomb. I had no hot sauce, or hoisin for that matter, that came close to what we have here. that said, the Banh mi baguettes, fresh coffee and citrus, which in January resembled tiny sour oranges/limes, really elevated Pho to something special.

                      When in Vietnam, don't waste your time in too many restaurants. The best food to be had can be found in lanes and alleys, on childrens' stools and slurped from plastic bowls. Don't be afraid. I did not experience even a whisper of illnessbin that country, even while sipping snake wine and sampling the fetal duck egg.

                    2. re: 1sweetpea
                      prima Oct 11, 2011 06:07 AM

                      Thanks for mentioning Beef 7 Ways at Anh Dao and Kim Bo. Have driven past both, and noticed a sign at one of the restaurants mentioning Beef 7 Ways, but had never heard anyone mention either restaurant on this board.

                      Anh Dao Restaurant
                      383 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G6, CA

                      Kim Bo Restaurant
                      358 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5T2S6, CA

                      1. re: prima
                        julesrules Oct 13, 2011 10:37 AM

                        Actually prima I think Anh Dao has got a few mentions over the years, specifically for their grilled meats and maybe that omelette/pancake thing with the whole shrimp. I personally love their Bun, they are the only place that seems to make it with a good quantity of fresh herbs (I had it first there and have been disappointed pretty much everywhere else!). Bun with their awesome grilled pork is my favourite order but nothing really disappoints (although I have never tried the Pho). It is my go-to on Spadina.

                        Anh Dao Restaurant
                        383 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G6, CA

                        1. re: julesrules
                          prima Oct 13, 2011 12:34 PM

                          Good to know- thanks, julesrules.

                      2. re: 1sweetpea
                        NegativeSleep Oct 12, 2011 09:45 PM

                        Fantastic list!

                        I know you said that you haven't had any bun dishes that blew you away, but do you know of any place in town where one could get a decent bowl of bun cha or bun thit nuong? Just got back from Vietnam a few weeks ago and have a few craving for these dishes.

                        1. re: NegativeSleep
                          haggisdragon Oct 13, 2011 09:29 AM

                          For Bun Cha I like Pho Huong. Its very similar to Bun Cha I had in Hanoi. Edit: that on Pacific Ave at Dundas, in the Junction.

                          Pho Huong
                          394 Pacific Ave, Toronto, ON M6P 1Z2, CA

                          1. re: NegativeSleep
                            1sweetpea Oct 17, 2011 06:38 AM

                            Are you referring to the roll-your-own platters? While many restaurants offer it, I've not seen any that give the variety of herbs, banana flowers, star fruits, etc., that I had in Vietnam. The version I had utilized a savoury sauce that had ground meat, liver, I think, in the sauce. It was very different, but a welcome addition.

                            I will keep my eyes peeled for impressive looking platters around the GTA in my wanderings.

                          2. re: 1sweetpea
                            froglegs Oct 16, 2011 05:22 PM

                            Thank you very very much sweet pea!
                            What a thorough list of places to try!
                            Thank you to everyone for all suggestions I can't way to try all these places and familiarize myself with the viet cuisine. So looking forward to the trip & the food!

                            1. re: 1sweetpea
                              neighborguy Oct 18, 2011 05:02 PM

                              Yes, ditto that is a great list 1sweetpea!

                              Reminder if up at Finch and Weston at Pho Dau Bo or Peach Garden in the same plaza grab a bahn mi (or five and get one free) at Que Huong.

                              Peach Garden
                              45 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5B2H9, CA

                              1. re: 1sweetpea
                                prima Nov 27, 2012 05:48 PM

                                1sweetpea, are there any other dishes you'd recommend at Peach Garden on Carlton, besides the bun rieu?

                                Also, are all the Peach Gardens owned by the same people? Is the food of similar quality at the various locations?

                                1. re: prima
                                  1sweetpea Jul 15, 2013 12:37 PM

                                  I know it's been nearly a year, but I wanted to reply. I'm not sure about common ownership among the various Peach Garden locations. I have only eaten at the one on Gerrard. I can't say a lot about the menu. It is vast and I've only been there twice. The other time I had something vegetarian, which wasn't bad, but wasn't exciting.

                                  When my husband was spending a lot of time in that area a handful of years ago, he ate there occasionally, when he'd exhausted his regular Gerrard options. He never had a bad word to say about the pho or any other dishes he sampled, but he never insisted we go there together. He'd always go to Hanoi 3 seasons or MiMi or XeLua, if I suggested any of them. That says something, in my opinion.

                            Show Hidden Posts