Showing posts with label Singapore fried vermeccelli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Singapore fried vermeccelli. Show all posts

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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  • 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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Urban Hakka (Toronto)



As you walk by Urban Hakka, don’t be surprised when the dining room looks empty. Unfortunately, the restaurant inherited a long narrow set-up where the seating area is split into two with a bar in the middle. During the cooler months, they smartly sit guests in the back, where it’s slightly warmer and everyone is hidden from view – a disservice if someone is peering in and deciding whether they want to dine at the place.

The shrimp pakora ($13) is a great way to start the meal. Its batter is applied with enough to cover the large prawns without being overly thick. Although how long the pakoras are fried needs to be standardized – one night it was absolutely perfect creating crispy parcels of prawns, while on a follow-up visit it’s golden but the centre slightly underdone so each bite finishes mushy. While it isn’t overly flavourful, the spicy Thai basil chutney that comes with it is absolutely delicious.



This same chutney goes really well with the Hakka style rice noodles ($12), which is very plain by itself, but is a good choice to pair with other saucier dishes in lieu of rice. They’re essentially like Singapore noodles without the curry.



Urban Hakka’s Singapore noodles ($12) gets the Hakka touch with a healthy dose of curry powder, probably 2 to 2.5 times the normal amount you’ll find at Chinese restaurants. It’s not terrible, but creates a rather strong dish where you’ll only need a small portion.



Luckily, they provide a big bowl of rice with the rest of the dishes and even offers refills if it gets empty. You’ll need the rice to accompany the Manchurian chicken ($12), which packs a flavourful punch. With a choice between wet and dry, we stuck with the recommended dry and it was fantastic - still a moist dish with each morsel of chicken covered with a salty, spicy, aromatic rub that appears to be made with freshly pureed ginger, garlic, and a host of other spices.



Hakka cuisine is essentially Chinese-style cooking outside of China. In Toronto, it tends to signify Chinese dishes with an Indian influence. At Urban Hakka, the dishes that lean towards the Indian side of the spectrum is a lot better, while the Chinese side falls flat. For example, the General Tao chicken ($12) essentially tastes like sweet and sour, which could be overlooked if it wasn’t so saucy that the batter is rendered mushy and it tastes like you’re eating gluey sweet chicken.



The sesame crispy beef ($14) is better, but extremely salty and is too powdery so you taste the flour and corn starch. If you’re going to get a “crispy” protein dish, stick with the crispy chicken ($14), which is cut into larger pieces and not as heavily coated. Nonetheless, eat quickly. When it arrives, scalding hot, the sauce is fantastic; once it starts to cool it begins to crystalize and tastes like candy coated chicken.




I can’t help but notice how their poorly laid out dining room affects the experience. The food delivery companies keep stomping through the dining room to the kitchen in the back, which is distracting when the restaurant is so silent.

Urban Hakka wants to create a serene environment, the décor is posh and there’s jazz music playing in the background. If they’re going to create a tranquil space than they have to go all in and get rid of the distractions… mainly all the people walking by within inches of a diner’s table. Simply ask the delivery people to wait by bar and have a staff member get the food from the kitchen (this could be a problem as the place is already understaffed) or ask the delivery people to go to the kitchen through an outside door (likely the more realistic choice).

Otherwise, Urban Hakka can drop the jazz music all together and just create a livelier loud environment. When I eat Hakka cuisine I’m going for the bold loud flavours. It doesn’t hurt if the restaurant has a vibrant loud environment to go with it.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3305 Yonge Street

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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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Urban Hakka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Asian Legend 味香村 (North York)

Location: North York, Canada
Address: 5188 Yonge Street
Type of Meal: Dinner



In the past, all my visits to Asian Legend were at their Scarborough location (read more about it here). But, my husband and I were craving soup filled dumplings, so decided to drop by the closer North York location instead. Not quite as large, it still has ample seating and was very busy during our weekend visit (make reservations if you’re planning to go with more than two people).

Of course we had to get what we came for - the steamed soup filled pork dumplings ($5.99). These tasted the same - decent wrapper thickness and a good amount of soup encapsulated in each one. But, we also opted to try the steamed soup filled crab and pork dumplings ($7.99) as well. I didn’t bother taking a picture of both because they look exactly the same.


At first I felt dubious about the addition of crab and weather it’d be worth the extra $2. But, am happy to say that you can certainly taste and see the extra ingredient. Overall, it brings an extra depth of flavour to the dumpling; an aromatic seafood essence. Since I eat mine without vinegar, I could taste the crab’s natural flavours mixed in. But, if you’re going to top the dumplings with a lot of condiments, I wouldn’t bother going past the traditional pork.


Their pork potstickers ($4.99) were not as juicy as the Scarborough location. The wrapper also could be improved as a couple were splitting apart (hence letting all the juices run out). Additionally, it lacked the more developed crust of their sister location.


The Singaporean style fried vermicelli ($10.99) had some great flavours to it with the generous dusting of curry powder. Indeed, it’s a much smaller portion than my previous experiences and found there wasn’t much of the staple ingredients of shrimp, BBQ pork and egg.


Overall, the taste of the dishes are similar as they seem to follow similar recipes. However, the execution of dishes (the potstickers) and value-for-money (the noodles) definitely falls behind their Scarborough counterpart. But, if you’re craving Shanghainese comfort food and don’t want to travel far, Asian Legend’s North York location may help tide you over.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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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!

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