Tag Archives: Vietnamese

Bach Yen




Que Ling

We had originally planned to review Que Ling and had even taken outside pictures, but something… unexpected happened. We were kicked out, within about half a minute of walking in—maybe more like 40 seconds—a record-breaking time regardless. They told us to take a seat, and then claimed the restaurant closes at seven, despite the fact a guy who walked in literally at the same time was allowed to stay. All kinds of reasons went through my head, that they didn’t like bloggers, had all of their tables reserved,  to maybe some kind of prejudice against certain customers. But either, d@mn that was a quick time, even Soup Nazi would be shocked.

Bach Yen


The closest other Phò restaurant, Bach Yen, was forgiving in that they actually liked paying customers. I was rapidly overwhelmed by the very bright interior.  As my eyes adjusted to the pitch, they revealed a decor of cheap furniture and one (maybe two) Asian paintings. But in many areas of Toronto, restaurants have an appearance many times worse than this, but have incredibly good food. This was—{breathes}—definitely not that.

Dining chairs


Let’s do a Pros and Cons list. What were the pros of the appetizers? There were pretty cheap: we afforded both the veggie spring rolls (order #3) and chicken satay (order #4) with peanut butter sauce, without having to mug someone for spare change! The cons? Everything else.

Spring rolls


The spring rolls tasted weird, not the weird flavour of pure genius, but rather the cacophony of bad ideas someone who thinks they’re genius would make. I really shouldn’t blame Bach Yen however, but rather the grocery store they got the frozen boxes from. Same could be said of the chicken sauce, I made a better peanut dish at home, all I did was crack open a jar and spread it on a tortilla wrap. I didn’t even add honey. By the way, the chicken was a bit chewy, and mom felt like it was a frozen product too.

Chicken satay


But maybe the appetizers aren’t the chef’s speciality. Maybe it’s a restaurant based off of one or two dishes and the rest are menu filler. The rare beef and beef ball phò (order 327) was going to put that to the test.

Pho soup


Unfortunately, we’ll never know, since all I got was a bowl of alien, brown liquid. I’m not saying I could ever make phò—unless stealing a bowl from someone else counts as “cooking”—but I can taste it. I’m on the easier side of the food world, I can’t produce my own stuff, but can judge who deserves praise and money like a dad with too many kids. As a soup, it wasn’t bad, but the only interesting flavour was a flowery back note. In a dish with many tastes mixing together, this would’ve been good, but in a slightly salty broth, it sticks out like a cuss word in kindergarten. This was the only time I hadn’t turned a bowl upside down to drink every last drop of the phò, there could’ve been a prize lurking in the bland depths and I would’ve been none the wiser.



Bean sprouts

The usual condiments that come with Pho

There’s a voice in the back of my head saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”, to which I reply, “Shut up you nasally parasite!” I also hear a second voice telling me to go back on the meds, but that’s not important at the moment. In order to be balanced and fair, there are some good qualities to Bach Yen, much like how a graph of the economy has upwards climbs of hope before crashing down into the abyss of Wall Street-esque anarchy.



I liked the tea, there were flowers in the pot which added a meadowy perfume to the drink, although I found myself picking microscopic petal fragments out of my cup like a passive-aggressive OCD sufferer. The service was friendly and quick, shame about the food though. I was thinking if someone wanted to open a can-opener Vietnamese diner, they should’ve have done so far away from Chinatown, where there are a host of better done Phò eateries.


Rare beef pho

Bach Yen wasn’t horrible, but it was pretty bad. I understand cooking is hard, but customers—put very nicely—don’t give a flying rat’s @$$. If you have a critic light years higher calibre than me, the kind of guy who exhumes pretentiousness and already had a rare truffle dish today, s/he’s not going to care either. You could go to Bach Yen and pay to have someone heat packaged food for you, or you could go to a better chef, or you could whip up your own experimental disaster at home yourself. Either way, I’m not recommending this.

Bach Yen 738 Gerrard St E.
Bach Yen on Urbanspoon


Anh Dao


I used to think that I did not like Vietnamese food because my sister took the family to a really bad place a few years ago. More recently my mother and I went to a better Vietnamese restaurant (not the one I’m reviewing) because she knew I would like real Vietnamese food.

When we went to Ahn Dao it was pouring rain, so we went in to get both food and shelter.

Soda Chanh Durong

Basically sugar and lemon juice in iced Club Soda. You use the spoon to mix everything together and it tastes alot like a lemonade only a bit sweeter and more watery.

Condiments for the Pho

The condiments you see here are fresh coriander (aka cilantro), bean sprouts, lime wedges and black bean sauce (in the red bottle). What you do with this stuff is add it to your Pho.

My Pho - Beef Balls & Rare Beef

To avoid sounding like a tourist, pronounce it FAH. The soup comes so hot that you push down on the rare beef (not with your hands) in order to cook it. The broth is savoury, a bit salty and kind of herbal. The food here is really really good. The beef balls’ taste reminded my of shrimp. The rare beef was lean, thin and went well the black bean sauce.


Nana and I both agreed that the chicken was tasty and tender. There were no fatty pieces in the chicken or the beef. The soups were huge portions, so make sure you come hungry.

My Mom’s Bun with Bar-B-Que Pork and Deep Fried Spring Roll

I think I should make it clear, that there are not actual pastry buns in this dish. Again the meat was lean and tender as well not too dry. Alot of times this meat is just fat or so dry it is like beef jerky. The rice vermicelli noodles went right to the bottom of the bowl, as opposed to the usual floor of bean sprouts used to puff up the dish.

Fresh Spring Rolls

I like spring rolls, but I don’t like these ones. It was mainly lettuce so you couldn’t taste anything else in the roll. This was the only item that we tried the was not very good.

With the exception of the spring rolls I would definately eat here again.

Ahn Dao 383 Spadina Avenue

Anh Dao on Urbanspoon