- VIETNAMESE FIEND Dec 17, 2003 05:09 PM
What is your favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto? What are the best items on the menu?
On College, near Brock(west of Dufferin) are two solid Vietnamese restaurants. The one on the North Side is called Ah Linh?, that's probably wrong but remember north side of the street, has amazing pork spring rolls. I usually order vermicelli dishes which are good but not worth going across town, however those spring rolls really stand out as being tasty morsels of deep fried goodness.
Thanks for the tip! I just went to Pho Linh, and am happy to have a new place to eat 10 minutes away from my house. I've been meaning to try these places for ages and just never got around to it till your post made me go.
I had the vermicelli with fried spring roll and grilled pork, and my partner had extra large pho with raw beef. My vermicelli was not bad, although the pork was on the dry side. But - you are so right about these spring rolls! They are delicious - great filling and not dripping with oil. The pho was better than the vermicelli, the meat was properly raw, just cooked on the edges, strong-flavoured soup base, and smooth noodles (although they could be chewy). With hot sauce and hoisin sauce, it's one huge and tasty dinner.
All in all, we had a great meal for $12.50. We'll be there often.
I love their Bun with bbq pork and spring rolls. Their bbq pork is the best!
Anyone noticed that Vietnamese spring rolls are getting weird at some spots? Thin, and filled with a greyish mush that seems almost like raw batter? I first experienced this at a donut shop on Dundas near University that serves Vietnamese and Chinese lunches, they were inedible and I won't go back there (had to hide them under my bowl, the nice lady kept asking me if I had liked them...). But then I got something similar at Mimi's on Gerrard, which is always crowded and gets decent reviews.
There is a franchise called Vic Hong. Had 1 downtown (gone). Had 1 in Scarborough (now called VH....different chef I believe). Still 1 left in Richmond Hill (leslie/7).
Would recommend the 1 in Richmond Hill.
I am addicted to Vietnamese food. I especially love Mai tho Phun which is clear noodles in a soup of assorted meat/seafood with beansprouts and onions. My favourite place is V&H at the south west corner of Sheppard and Brimley in Scarborough in the same strip mall as the Harvey's restaurant. I eat there for lunch at least 2-3 times a week. All my friends are addicted too! The food is amazing, the vermicelli dishes with the BBQ pork or beef or chicken is the best in the city as well as the spring rolls. I've eaten at all the vietnamese restaurants from Chinatown downtown Toronto/Richmond Hill to North York. The food is really cheap and you get very large portions. Also try their Shanghai noodles, it's not on the menu but if you ask for it they will make it... it's awesome as well.
What I like about Vietnamese food is that there are not alot of fried foods, yet the taste doesn't suffer.
1 more reccommendation: I think it's called Golden Elephant....new restaurant south of Steeles, 1 light east of Kennedy in Scarborough. Same plaza complex that has Scotiabank, Staples, Subway and across from No Frills.
Portions are HUGE! They also have Malaysian and Thai food, but have only tried Vietnamese so far. Was relucatant in the beginning cause too many advertised cuisines.
AT Highway 7 and Bayview, there is a restaurant called Saigon Star that has some amazing food that I have not encountered at any other Vietnamese restaurants. Two dishes in particular stand out: the curried crab and the giant grilled shrimp. The curried crab are large west coast crabs is a slightly sweet curry sauce which is not at all like the yellow curry sauce you get in Chinese restaurants (e.g. for curry chicken). The sauce is completely addictive and great for flavoring the white rice you should order with it. The grilled shrimp are truly giant (like small lobsters). Very simply prepared and delicious.
A couple of points about the restaurant. First, the crab is a mess to each for wear you eating clothes. Second, the waiters sometimes try to upsell you into ordering more food. One crab for two people and maybe a vegetable side should be plenty if you eat rice. Third, the place is not cheap. This is a not a $4.99 per dish kind of place. If I recall correctly, the crab is listed at "market price" but has always been $30 every time I've been there. The giant shrimp are $10 each. I've been told that the lamb chops are very good (I guess that's the French influence) but I have not tried them.
The restaurant is out of the way and not exactly cheap, but I think it is definitely worth a visit. It is very popular among the Asian community. Every time I've been there, the placeis packed with Asians (in fact frequently my wife is the only non-Asian person in the place).
re: Jonathan C
Good for you!
Finally, a few more people who realize Vietnamese food is not confined to pho and vermicelli - which is comfort food to me. Happiness can be found in a good pho. Anyways...
Although the Saigon Star has gone downhill a bit since I first visited back in the mid-90's, it's still pretty good. In fact, I think I'll go for lunch tomorrow and order the curry crab.
I highly suggest on your next visit to try the curry crab with the bread instead of the rice. Oddly enough, when myself and the man go, we order a crab, bread and a veggie dish as well. Have you tried the kong kang or kang kong, something like that. It's water spinach, delicious and packed full of vitamins and minerals-what a combo. In Halong Bay, I met a Brampton woman visiting her family in Vietnam. The one thing she asked her mother to cook was the water spinach, every day she was at home.
If the Saigon Star has fresh eel (make sure it's fresh, I would suggest the spring/summer season), order it. But it must be fresh, we had it once and it literally melted in our mouths, ahh the memories. The second time was not so successful, so its best to "grill" the waiter about it.
I think the people who run the place are actually Vietnamese/Chinese (they speak Cantonese). It's too bad they didn't import the love of wine because the selection sucks. Sorry about the rambling tone.
Eat well, live well
Thanks for the follow up. My wife and I are heading to vietnam in February and Halong Bay is one of the stops. I will have to try the water spinach both there and at Saigon Star. Thanks for all the suggestions. I will have to quiz my co-worker who is Vietnamese and first told me about Saigon Star.
re: Jonathan C
I'm envious, Vietnam is a great eating destination; but then there aren't a lot of places that aren't great eating destinations. If I may I would like to make a few recommendations, but please keep in mind that I was there in 2000.
If you're going to Hanoi, make sure you try the cha ca there, it's fish marinated in a curry powder then fried over dill, very tasty and a specialty in Hanoi. There's actually a street in the old town that had a few restaurants specializing in this. Be careful, we had cha ca elsewhere in Vietnam, but it was more of a fried minced fish cake.
In Halong Bay, there is a floating fish/seafood restaurant out on the water (unmarked). You have to hire someone to row you out. We got charged quite a bit for Vietnamese standards but not Canadian standards, and it was worth it (we went with the woman from Brampton). You pick your dinner from the live selection, including different kinds of shrimp, crab, fish and squid. Make sure you agree on the price beforehand, in fact, keep that in mind on all your transactions and always haggle.
If you happen across mud crabs, try them and please report back. I was not able to partake since I wasn't able to find them.
The street food is safe to eat and very cheap, although once again they'll charge you foreigner prices, so haggle, they'll still be making a killing on you. We had some lovely snails in a broth with fresh herbs prepared literally on the street. The woman slung the whole thing through a bamboo pole and carried it on her back, little stove and all.
Unfortunately you may be too early for mango season, but if you are heading southwards in Vietnam, dragonfruit is available as well as some very good sapodilla and dragon eyes (longan). They call the sapodillas "mother's milk" and the dragon eyes are so juicy they squirt when you pierce the skin.
Happy Eating and Happy Travels!
My favorite place was Dai Nam on Spadina south of College. They had a lot of things on the menu besides the standard pho/vermicelli options.
Unfortunately they seem to have gone out of business. Anyone know why?