Deer Garden Signatures 鹿園魚湯米線 (Toronto)

While pho uses beef bones for their stock and ramen uses pork or chicken, Deer Garden Signatures offers their noodles with fish. First opened in Vancouver, there’s now two outposts in the GTA serving quick but satisfying meals. Although they have a variety of other rice and noodle dishes on their menu, what people come for is the no msg fish soup.

The broth is creamy and rich but has a lighter quality to it since there’s not an ounce of grease in sight. It’s the type of soup that you want to continue drinking even after the noodles are done and won’t leave you feeling parched an hour later. For those who don’t enjoy seafood, rest assured it’s not fishy; plus there’s always white pepper at the table that helps to mellow out the flavour.

Their noodle combos are the way to go – just pick up a slip of paper and check off the soup base, noodle type, toppings and drink you’d want. It’s a satisfying portion of food for only $8.75. With five fish soups, for my first taste the plain original option seemed to be the way to go. My mom had the tomatoes and pumpkin one, which completely changes the flavour profile with the freshness of the vegetables: it’s good but I find the tomatoes really drowns out the seafood essence.

For those who aren’t into seafood, other choices include chicken broth, tom yum, laksa, Szechuan and peanut sauce with chili. Sure, they all sound delicious but somehow I know they will remain a mystery to me as I’d much rather go to a Japanese, Thai or Malaysian restaurant to have these. If you’re going to visit a restaurant always order what they’re known for!

Next is a choice of 32 toppings (two are included with the combo and extras are $1.50). Mine incorporated the sliced cuttlefish and fish tofu to maintain the seafood theme. But, there’s also meat and vegetarian options available. Deer Garden certainly didn’t skimp on the cuttlefish, it seemed like every bite of noodles had a piece in it. The fish tofu is worth a try and has such a great salty flavour. They also throw in cabbage, mushrooms (button and prince), beancurd sticks, parsley and green onion so it ends up being a very hearty bowl.

The thick rice noodles ended up being a poor choice as they were much too soft for my liking. The Korean style sweet potatoes crystal noodle would have been better as they maintain their springy texture much better.

Ordering a couple side orders is a great way to start for the table. For only $1.95 they’re inexpensive and there’s just enough to share amongst a table of 2-3 people. The pan fried pork chop in maggi sauce was tender and flavourful. While the desert wings with ginger wasn't nearly as exotic as the menu describes, they were still decent crispy hot chicken wings.

One of my favourite foods is a big bowl of noodle soup – there hasn’t been a variety that’s disappointed me so far. I’m so glad to be able to add Deer Garden to the mix. It’s inexpensive, fresh and so satisfying. It’s that good that it'll become a year round eat – hopefully the restaurant has adequate air conditioning for the sweltering summer months.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 633 Silverstar Blvd

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!