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Foodies Beware!!!! - 'Saigon Star' is BAD! Way over-rated and Way overpriced!!!

Supposed to offer one of Toronto's must-try dish, Richmond Hill Saigon Star's famed "Curry Dungeness Crab" was well known even to out-of-town food lovers!

After 3 consecutive days of Cantonese food, we decided to take our LA guests to try out some high-end Vietnamese cuisine at this staple icon tonight. The result?! BIG MISTAKE!! A huge 'over-priced' thumbs down to their food that ranges from mediocrity to BAD!!

In addition to the Curry crab ( costing now a whopping $48 each, that used to be $38 ), we also ordered their house special Charbroiled Lamb Chops, Charbroiled BC rock oysters topped with minced garlic and buttered bread crumbs, charbroiled Thailand Fresh water jumbo prawns and Curry beef brisket hot-pot. To augment these, we also had a couple of bowls of Pho and stirred fry vegetables.

The House-Special Curry Crab was nothing special! Totally under-whelming with the crustacean smothered with a mediocre tasting curry sauce that lacked complexity, this was a bad start to our meal. For the price, I would opt for a 4 pound lobster from the Emperor any.day!

The 'mini-size' lamb chop that was less than 1/4 inch thick was a rip-off! Though quite tender and relatively tasty, however, at $5 a piece, this tiny Middle-Eastern clone is day-light robbery!

The charbroiled oyster in the half shell was super-greasy. At $6 per piece, this morsel was twice as expensive as the one offered by' The Emperor' but half as tasty! A 4 fold swing!!

The Jumbo prawns was another mega-disaster! Incredibly expensive, this $12 crawler not only tasted bland and uninteresting, the meat, instead of chewy was mushy and some even tasted stale!!

The rest of our dishes were all so-so. Vegetables were greasy and over-cooked. The soup for the Pho was almost tasteless.

Lastly, one more rip-off item to finish off our disastrous evening. Some of us, due to thirst (msg?? ), ordered a few of their 'young coconut' drinks. Instead of a fresh green coconut, what we got was a tall glass of syrupy liquid filled with ice and a couple tiny sliver of coconut meat. For this glass of ice and sugar water, they charged us $4.50!!!

Not only will I NOT RETURN, if city bylaw allows, I might even be tempted to put a warning sign outside the mall entrance!!

Warning: The photos I posted below are deceiving! The food might look good but in reality they are :(

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  1. Wow.

    With a review like that, I might get to see some cause and effect.
    Will this be the nail to this this place.

    1. Never get the prawns. They're a rip off and the waiters always try to push them on the diners there.

      1. Has it gone that downhill since you were last there? How long ago was your last visit before this most recent one?

        5 Replies
        1. re: T Long

          Myself, a couple of months! My relatives, regulars! Still, pushing questionable ingredients like the prawns is inexcusable!!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            It was still really good a couple of months ago!?? Perhaps they were just having a really bad day when you went this time then?

            1. re: T Long

              I posted this close-up photo of the greasy oyster on facebook and some of my friends actually commented the topping really looked BAD and 'gangrened'!!

              IMO , the standard of their food was never 'really good'! The first time I tried their crab, I was already at a lost as to what the hype was all about! Only acceptable dishes were their Vietnamese Spring rolls and their Curry beef brisket.

              Furthermore, for a Vietnamese restaurant to have a whole menu section on Pho but cannot even make a decent broth is impossible to justify!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Hmm... I guess it's revealing then the difficulty of getting really good non-Cantonese food in your part of the city when experienced foodies like you and the other poster below would take your out of towners to a place either not frequented or one that you already thought was a bit so-so. If you were able to repeat the experiience, where would you take foodies for non-Cantonese great food in your area?

                1. re: T Long

                  Restoran Malaysia. But not all their dishes are good!!
                  In fact, I might take them for some down-to-earth Good Italian chow at Tutto Bene!! Still most consistent restaurant in the area!

        2. My last visit a few months back was also disappointing - the crab wasn't what I remembered. The belachan clams were really good during that visit though: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/6...

          1. Unfortunately, I was with Charles taking our LA visitors to Saigon Star last night. Thought we would give them a chance after years of absence. The King Prawns that looked good had a powdery texture, typical for frozen and unfresh. For $15 each, it was rediculous. Shouldn't the chef try it first and determined that this was not fit for serving or eating. Their feature dish, curry crabs were okay, but tasted a little bland, but I can get this dish done much better in many other Chinese restaurant at 50% of the price.The lamg chops were good, but the chops were pathetically tiny. Since we were in a Vietnamese Restaurant, we ordered two bowls of Pho, they were amongst the worst pho I've had in Toronto in a long time, simply tasteless. Now I remember why I haven't been here for years. The total bill worked out to $45 person. Before last night, our LA visitors had experienced Omei, Emperor, Maple Ip (Luk Yu), Centre Street Deli, Congee and Wanton restaurants, little oval cakes made to order in Market Village, and the great chestnuts from the Chestnut Truck. they enjoyed every eating experience in Toronto, and now, they have the bad memories of Saigon Star. What I don't underatnd is why there is still lineups on the weekends. There are lots and lots of much better Vietnamese restaurants in the GTA.

            1. Thank you for reporting. I remember some wonderful meals there many years ago, and had been wondering whether it was them or me that I found that my recent meals (spanning the last few years) there were ho-hum. I thought it was partly because that we are now getting spoiled with all the great choices for seafood in the area, which was lacking back in the day.

              On the other hand, to be fair, we are missing good Vietnamese restaurants, especially one that has spectacular dishes and is worthy of bringing out-of-town guests to! SS used to be touted as such, and it's sad that this is no more.

              1. awww. This is so sad to see. Saigon star is one of my favorite restaurant in Toronto. My favorite dish there is the eggplant.
                I do agree many dishes there are over-priced. I wouldn't recommend the curry crab either. But I love the lamb, the assorted appitizer plater, and their clams.
                Hopefully the restaurant will get this feedback and improve on the quality and adjust their prices.

                1. Sad to hear that they've gotten so bad. I remember going here over ten years ago and I loved their rice hot pot dishes. I haven't been since then but my parents went sometime in the past year, also with out-of-country visitors, and I remember my mom, who's the biggest fan of prawns, telling me about the expensive blah prawns.
                  I'd be insulted if I was given that as a young coconut drink for $4.50.
                  So which Vietnamese restaurant would you recommend for the Hwy7/Bayview area these days?

                  1. Hmmm...it is pretty incredible to hear how bad the place has gone downhill. I have been there a few times and have in general enjoyed my meal there. I wholeheartedly agree that the price of the curry crab is totally insane even before the price increase. I believe the small was 38 the last I went. By western standards its not outrageous given the high 30 and low 40 dollar mains you see at many Toronto restaurants. With that said, I agree with Charles that it isn't the best value relative to other Chinese and vietnamese places. Especially when you know the crabs cost about 8 bucks a little pound at the supermarket.

                    With that said, I've always looked at it as a little treat for myself to indulge given that the crab feeds three easily and dinner typically cost about 70 bucks for 3 and usually are enjoyable.

                    I will definitely keep this in mind though and sorry about your bad night!

                    1. Such a shame. They were good when I started going there in the late '90s, I had the best eel in Toronto there - the waiter mentioned the eel was very fresh - it was live, simply grilled, and melted in my mouth, but it was the only time, haven't had anything so good since. $48 for curry crab is outrageous, especially if the sauce is only mediocre. Anyone know where we can get a good curry crab now?