Great Fountain (Toronto) 大泉港式快餐 for takeout

Watch food shows about Asian countries and they will inevitably feature street eats. The compounds may be located outside or indoors, but the common themes are the array of dishes available, the no frills communal dining area, and the unfathomed low prices compared to the hard work that goes into creating the dishes.

In Toronto, our closest comparison is the da pa dongs set in GTA strip malls. Scarborough food courts were once bustling in the late 1980s and 1990s, my parents and I used to regularly visit them in my youth. But once eateries switched to using disposable containers (they previously used real dishes and you could request a takeout container for leftovers), the environmentalist in me steered my parents towards restaurants like Congee Wong instead.

It’s a shame, as having stir-fried dishes at a da pa dong is the epitome of how they should be enjoyed. Within a minute, it’s out of the hot wok, onto a plate, and you’re digging into the fragrant dish in no time.

My favourite item is the stir-fried rice noodles with beef or gon chow gnow ho. Since the pandemic started, it’s also a dish that I’ve been getting from various Chinese restaurants around the city, always disappointed with the outcomes. Hence, after seeing it featured on Great Fountain’s Instagram feed, I worked in a visit to the eatery after dropping off provisions to my mom, who lives in the area.

The stir-fried noodles with beef ($7.50) was exactly what I had been craving - the noodles cooked long enough so there are bits of caramelization on the ends and to give the dish wok hay. There was enough soy sauce and condiments to flavour everything giving the noodles a lovely deep brown hue, yet they remained dry and not clumped together. I could even do without the beef, to be honest, as what makes the dish are the chewy aromatic noodles, sweet onions and chives, and crunchy bean sprouts. If it is this good after a 20-minute commute, I can only imagine how delicious it would be dining there.

Perhaps there was a bit too much bean sprouts in the Singapore stir-fried vermicelli ($7.50) as the noodles were a little soft for my liking. My hypothesis is the water from the bean sprouts soaked into the thin noodles as it sat in the container. Slivers of green bell peppers would have been a nice addition to substitute for some of the sprouts and add a pop of colour. Regardless, the dish a lovely curry flavour and was a nice balance of noodles, barbeque pork and vegetables.

Each dish is served with a complimentary drink (I skipped to cut down on plastic waste) as well as a free soup. Great Fountain’s hot and sour soup was still surprisingly warm after the drive home and while it’s not the greatest, it’s also not terrible for a free addition. It could be a touch spicier, but where it lacked in the “hot” there was enough of the “sour” element to give it flavour. It reminds me of the hot and sour soup found at Chinese buffets, and even comes packed with big cubes of tofu.

The popcorn squid ($5.99) was the sole disappointing dish; another item I’ve ordered regularly during the pandemic, and once again reminded why it must be eaten in a restaurant. Of course, it was no longer crispy, which is such a pivotal part to making the squid delicious, but Great Fountain’s also lacked seasoning, despite the slightly fiery red tinge.

During the lockdown, when we’re forced to take out from restaurants anyways, it’s the opportune time to visit da pa dongs again - the guilt of relying on plastic and Styrofoam containers dissipates slightly. So far, the meal from Great Fountain has been the tastiest alternative to eating stir-fried noodles at a restaurant. Long live “street eats”. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 8 Glen Watford Drive

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!

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