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Kingsway Vietnamese ?

LotusRapper Nov 1, 2012 02:24 PM

Sorry have to ask, I know this topic is a regular one on this board and I could have gleaned 'nuff info from previous threads to reach a conclusion, or at least a shortlist.

Taking the parents for Vietnamese dinner tonight. They're not huge fans of Viet food, even though they are Chinese and nothing on Viet menus seem all that foreign to them. So the question is, what are your recommendation(s) for:

- clean, bright, spacious and ..... CLEAN (ie: anti-hole-in-wall);
- good value for $ (they like large portions);
- provides broader options in addition to the usual suspects of pho, bun, dry noodles, rice dishes.

I'm leaning towards Hai Phong due to their space, but I've only been once and only had a bowl of pho. HP has congee on their menu which would totally please my dad. Any other places I should consider ? Remember, my parents are picky and extremely value-conscious (just an observation ...) .Targeting between Fraser to Knight.

  1. g
    Geoduckling Nov 15, 2012 11:23 AM

    A happy accident yesterday. Had to drive to Collingwood community centre to pick up a lost phone, and on the way, starving, tried to stop off at Cafe Xu Hue to try their Bun Bo Hue. They were closed so I went next door to Mien Tay Cafe (2222 Kingsway). I was peeping the menu and the server recommended their Bon Bo Hue. I tried it and it was the best BBH I ever ate. The broth was balanced and clean (wasn't gooped up with BBH paste that you get in jars). The shank beef was super tender and instead of slices of viet mortadella, there was these light fluffy mortadella balls. Only gripe is the noodles were too soft, but those round rice noodles always tend to be soft. The blood cake was also spot on silky. A beaut of a bowl. Wish I had a photo.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Geoduckling
      LotusRapper Nov 15, 2012 11:49 AM

      That stretch of Kingsway is getting kinda clogged up these days with construction, right ?

      Not familiar with this place, a Google & Urbanspoon searches yielded Su Su Cafe, so presumably they changed names ?

      http://thefridaylunch.wordpress.com/2...

      And this is not Cafe Xu Hue which is a few doors east, right ?

      1. re: LotusRapper
        g
        Geoduckling Nov 16, 2012 12:36 AM

        Yeah..it was right before the construction kicked, just south of a shuttered CDN tire. To be honest, can't confirm the name. From my post-meal research it looks like the location has turned over businesses a few times already. But 2222 kingsway is the correct address. I mapped it. And it wasn't cafe xu hue, they closed on Wed.

        I'm gonna try their crab (cua) noodle soup next time I'm the hood.

    2. LotusRapper Nov 2, 2012 02:51 PM

      We ended with HP after all. We ordered:

      - 6 SPRING ROLLS
      - ASSORTED MEAT BALLS WITH VERMICELLI IN SOUP
      - VIETNAMESE BEEF STEW NOODLES SOUP
      - STEAMED DUCK ON RICE WITH GINGER FISH SAUCE
      - GRILLED PORK CHOP, SHREDDED PORK AND STEAMED EGG PIE WITH BROKEN RICE
      - VIETNAMESE BRAISED PORK
      - STIR FRIED MORNING GLORY (kang kong)

      All were ok, none really wowed me to be honest. The braised pork was a disappointment, dry, sinewy pieces of pork in a salty one-dimensional sauce (with a bit of chili). The morning glory was the better of the lot. But it still was a bit "lifeless" in color and texture and didn't taste as garlicky as it looked. Dad's beef stew noodles were pretty good, Mom's pork chop on rice platter was to her liking but the meat was thin and dry (she had a bit of trouble cutting it). Wife's steamed duck ..... devoid of flavour and lukewarm upon arrival.

      All in all, we weren't disappointed but nor did we feel the meal was a hit. Driving home on Kingsway, Mom pointed to KEN's Chinese Restaurant and uttered she hadn't been there for "a long while". I think that was her way of saying she'd rather have gone there ;-)

      3 Replies
      1. re: LotusRapper
        grayelf Nov 2, 2012 06:48 PM

        So sad to have a so-so experience! We have been consistently lucky at Hai Phong, but we do tend to order the same 6 or so dishes in rotation, and none of them are on your list. It's such a huge menu I guess there are bound to be some dogs. They are also in the process of opening another restaurant, being held up by a gas permitting issue I understand, so maybe their attention is divided. But as I say, we haven't had anything that we haven't really enjoyed in all our recent visits.

        1. re: grayelf
          LotusRapper Nov 2, 2012 07:16 PM

          Thanks GE :-) I'm not deterred, and plan to go back to gain a good experience. What are the 6 or so dishes you typically order ?

          1. re: LotusRapper
            grayelf Nov 3, 2012 02:02 AM

            I think I hit most of 'em in my earlier reply... the tamarind crab is a pretty good bet as well, though I don't personally indulge.

      2. chowtimes Nov 2, 2012 01:45 AM

        Check out Mui Ngo Gai. We like their interesting menu which is had a wide variety beyond just pho. Green Lemongrass would be my other recommendation.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowtimes
          j
          jmil Nov 2, 2012 10:39 AM

          I would second Mui Nho Gai as well. Hai Phong is usually my go to place, but the last couple times wasn't great (off night I suppose. It's usually quite good), however M N G was a nice change .. I was Pleased with the friendly service, reasonable prices and quality / variety of the dishes. Clean and modern interior.

        2. c
          clutterer Nov 1, 2012 04:06 PM

          Green Lemongrass?

          3 Replies
          1. re: clutterer
            grayelf Nov 1, 2012 06:07 PM

            I like GLG but I think it will seem too HITW for LR's 'rents. Also their breaky menu is the standout for me.

            Hai Phong has been my go to for a while, in fact we were there on Monday night. Get an order of the garlic chicken wings, try the banh xeo (bit messy but tasty and comforting), or splurge and go for the hot pot. I also like their porc au caramel but it can vary in terms of spicy heat levels so be warned. We had an excellent salad roll with the minced pork sausage where the sausage was *still warm* sigh... They do have a nice list of congee but it will be the Viet style of course, not Canto (I actually prefer it but am by no stretch a congee connoisseur). If you're feeling really naughty and they have it, try the avocado shake, drool.

            1. re: grayelf
              c
              clutterer Nov 1, 2012 08:27 PM

              I fail to see how Hai Phong is any more upscale in decor relative to Green Lemongrass.

              1. re: clutterer
                grayelf Nov 1, 2012 11:14 PM

                I wouldn't (and didn't!) call HP upscale, cause it ain't. The black tables, chairs and lighting seem more modern to me than the calico and curly back chairs at GLG. Also the room layout is a bit nicer. Neither looks all that great from the outside which doesn't bother me as I'm after what's inside but the OP's guests want clean, bright and spacious. GLG is not the last two.

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