Showing posts with label spring roll. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring roll. Show all posts

Toronto Pho for Delivery

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

For some people, the fall is signified by breaking out the boots and scarves; or for the youth, going back to school. In my books, it’s the return of bowls of steaming noodles and broth. My internal clock, which happens to be my stomach, yearns for it as soon as September hits. So, it wasn’t surprising to my husband when I announced that pizza was out, and pho was in.

Having followed Toronto Pho on Instagram for the better part of the year, they were the first company I called. Turns out they retired their own delivery service and now goes through Uber and Door Dash, so a quick zap of the app and my bowl of noods was on the way.

A deep-fried spring roll ($5.75 for two) goes with pho like cookies with milk. Sadly, Toronto Pho’s roll incorporates way too much taro, turning the filling into a crumbly bland mush. It didn’t help that the salt was non-existent, so all the flavours came from the sweet thin dipping sauce. Seriously, the frozen ones from the supermarket are better.

I’d go with the grilled rolls instead, our chicken version ($6.95 for two) was absolutely delicious, a bundle of vermicelli with bean sprouts and mint leaves, wrapped in lettuce, and then layered with grilled chicken and wrapped in a chewy rice sheet. The double roll helped keep the noodles soft while adding an extra crunch after getting through the soft rice wrapper. Meanwhile, the marinated grilled chicken had enough flavour but was further augmented by the savoury peanut sauce on the side.

The starters helped keep me satisfied while I heated up the broth in a pot and zapped the noodles in the microwave. Taking the five minutes to do this really helps enhance the experience. After all, I’m craving a steaming hot bowl of noodles… not lukewarm broth with clumped pho.

Toronto Pho’s broth packs a strong punch of spices (star anise and cinnamon?) and is seasoned well without becoming overwhelming. While Pho is never overly heavy, Toronto Pho’s soup feels extra “clear”, almost like a consommé than bone broth. It’s delicious, just not necessarily hearty.

The noodles remained chewy having been separated from the soup and there were plenty of toppings included with the bowl – the typical bean sprouts, Thai basil, and lime, but also a long leafy lettuce type vegetable and onions as well. Yum! I love the mix of herbs with pho.

They also didn’t skimp on the beef, there was plenty of it and soft tendon ($12.50) in my bowl. My only complaint was there was a thick end slice of the meat left with everything. Have you ever tried chewing through a cheap cut of lean beef that’s been sitting in transit for a while? Thank god I have the jaws of life.

I do have to give credit to Toronto Pho for using paper containers for their noodles and broth (sadly not the rolls, which is strange as there are plenty of small paper box options) and helping the environment.  While the experience wasn’t stellar, it nonetheless satisfied my “it’s-becoming-fall” stomach, and there will be plenty of grilled rolls and noodles in my future.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: Various locations
 Delivery: Uber and Doordash
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Xango (Toronto)


To see Chef Claudio Aprile in real life is a treat. To get to preview Xango’s menu before it opens made the occasion even more special. By being a Toronto Life Insider Member, I had the opportunity to dine at the restaurant before dinner service commences on September 18th and know that Claudio was actually inside the kitchen. My mouth would taste the food his hands touched!



For someone who’s about to showcase a whole new menu, he’s calm and collected. Claudio explains that he loves the opportunity to cook food his own way and with his own flavours. Having dined at his other establishments - Colborne Lane, Origin, and Copetin – Xango certainly differs from the rest and is perhaps closest to Uruguay cuisine, the Chef’s native country.


Of all his restaurants, he felt this was his “riskiest” as Peruvian flavours are relatively under represented and through Xango he hopes to push Torontonians to try new things. While it’s a noble thought, I’m don’t necessarily agree as there are already tons of mainstream Peruvian restaurants (Kay Pacha, Mira, Baro, and Chotto Matte). Plus, being part of the Liberty Group means there’s a lot of financial and corporate muscle behind the restaurant, not exactly risky. Regardless, if it helps expand the culture palette of the city, I’m supportive.

Family style dishes came out in quick succession following the short opening speech. We’re warned that not all these items will make the final menu and that we should vote for our favourites of the evening. Ask and you shall receive. Here are some of the top picks from each category for me:

Starter – The crispy thin tostones topped with black bean and salsa with a drizzle of crema and silky queso fresco was delicious. A quick two bites that works great to warm up the taste buds or for passed nibbles. With a bit more seasoning, it’d be even better.


Raw + Salads – I loved the big chunks of tuna in the ceviche. Along with watermelon, avocado, and daikon, it’s a great dish showcasing the mix of Latin and Asian flavours that’s popular with Peruvian cuisine. And those nori chips, yum! Such a good idea.


Even the simple tomato and avocado salad impressed. Intuitively, I wouldn’t have thought seaweed would work with tomato, but it actually sets off the fruit nicely and the kalamansi dressing adds a bit of acid without things becoming too sour.



Robata – We all swooned over the lamb chops that were cooked to perfection, simply seasoned with sweet chili. This has to be a keeper. Their octopus was also delicious brushed with a sweet soy so the meaty tender pieces has a wonderful balanced smoky flavour.



Large Dishes – Sadly, one of the dishes, the scallop, never made it to our table, despite numerous follow-up attempts. So, if I had to choose between the beef and chicken, beef generally is a top choice.  Like the lamb, the striploin is cooked to perfection – whoever is manning the meat grilling station is amazing. But, the fishy flavour from the encebollado really threw me off and doesn’t work with the steak unlike surf and turf. At the same time, I appreciate Xango’s attempt to push people out of their comfort zone and introduce an atypical combination of flavours. Maybe fishy beef is something I’ll grow to love.



Extras – In my haste to get some vegetables into the system, I forgot to snap a pic of the grilled and wokked gilan. The leafy Chinese green is elevated with a quick grill before being tossed with chili crisps. This works nicely as a side with the large dishes.

Sweet – To be fair there was only one dessert for the evening, yet it was all the table needed. A shallow dish of luscious coffee and milk chocolate pudding arrives with cinnamon dusted buñuelo (a fried tortilla) to dip into it. It’s a lighter alternative to churros, but still has that same satisfying end that you want with the meal.



There were some dishes that could be great, it just needs a tweak:

Overall, I really enjoyed the flavours in the spring rolls filling, which combined sweet shrimp and light maitake mushrooms. Yet, the filling’s paste consistency means the spring roll wrapper has to be crispier to provide a better contrast. Perhaps the more fluid filling is causing the wrapper to get soggy, so a layer of nori between the shrimp paste and wrapper may help to keep things crunchy.



While the halibut ceviche is such a pretty dish, arriving in halved coconut, it tastes bland since it’s really just a combination of mild fish with coconut milk. I’d imagine a hit of chili and something with texture, like Inca corn kernels, would help add pizazz to the dish.



The chimmichurri goes nicely with the whole roasted hen, but the actual fowl was overcooked. It could come down to the piece chosen or the difficulties with serving a whole bird to so many tables within a short time frame, but after the impressive lamb chops and steak, a dry bird is not how you want to end the night.



Most shishito peppers are grilled; at Xango they’re battered and fried like tempura. So while it’s tasty, I wouldn’t classify it under the “extras” sections, which to diners may seem like side dishes. It’s simply too heavy to be an accompaniment, but as a “starter” it works.



Lastly, if these dishes never made it to the final menu, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

For a dish the menu describes as being garnished with a caramelized peanut sauce, the crispy squid is oddly sour and lacks nutty flavours. I get it, calamari is a safe corporate option. But, it’s also on so many menus across the city that if it’s not fantastic, why even bother.



While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the skewer of chorizo, shitake, and pickled peppers, there’s nothing exciting about it as well. Literally, if tastes like you’re eating a mushroom, than chorizo, a pepper, and ending off with another mushroom. Is the progression of ingredients or combination really memorable or important? Not really.




In the end, it feels a little strange to be judging a Master Chef judge. After all, he’s the one that critiques the creations of so many hopefuls and offers suggestions in his calm friendly manner. Here’s hoping my thoughts came though as rationally as Chef Claudio himself. And to Master Chef Canada, if you ever need a judge, my services are always available. 
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Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 461 King Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Pho Vistro (Toronto)


Somehow when you hear the tranquil Green Sleeves playing while perched on the high top table, you know Pho Vistro does things differently. The dining room is a step up from the no-frills sparse tables where the condiments are centerpieces. Their menu to the point; there’s no spiraling notebook where the combination of proteins and offal is dizzying.

Pho Vistro focuses on pho – chicken, beef or vegan – either served in soup or dried form. There are also a few appetizers: the Vietnamese-style ribs ($6) arrives in singular form - a huge hunk of beef glazed with sweet hoisin that's tender with a bit of bite. It's just difficult to share so get one for yourself.


Their lunch special ($12) is a decent portion, consisting of a bowl of pho and spring roll (or and imperial roll for a healthier non-fried version). Unlike other restaurants that relies heavily on mung bean noodles or yellow beans, Pho Vistro’s roll contains plenty of finely slivered vegetables so you taste more than just crisp dough and starch.


Their soup contains no MSG and instead relies on boiling bones and herbs for over a day to develop its flavour. On the first sip, I could taste the difference – the broth seemed bland, but the flavours slowly built on the tongue. It’s atypical since the soup relies more on spices than salt. Without the MSG, many reviewers claim they weren’t thirsty afterwards; maybe it's the hoisin or sriracha, but I still downed a full bottle.


The noodles are cooked well, but the portion really skimpy. Typically, I order a small bowl at other restaurants and even I was left wanting more (extra noodles is definitely required). Their beef arrives in large thin slices and was really lean and healthy. However, the organic bean sprouts takes some getting used to as they’re rather shriveled and the concentrated flavour tastes similar to alfalfa sprout.  


I appreciate the healthy spin of Pho Vistro, but admittedly miss the fulsome rich salty beefiness of traditional pho. It’s good, just different. Let the evolution begin.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 259 King Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

Pho Vistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato