Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pho at Golden Turtle Restaurant - meh

After 'mandatory fun' (office all hands meeting) at the Ontario Science Centre, Tanya and I went to Golden Turtle Restaurant at Ossington between Queen and Dundas to grab some Vietnamese pho. Tanya had read somewhere that Susur Lee enjoys this place, so we thought we'd give it a try.

I had worried that since this place had gotten good press, it would be fancy. But, it was actually just like any other pho place with all the standard dishes, condiments, and place settings, which was a relief to see. I ordered pho with well done beef and tripe (I love tripe, really) and Tanya had pho with tofu and vegetables. We also ordered the standard fried spring rolls (with meat) and shrimp fresh rolls (vermicelli, mint, julienned veggies, fresh shrimp served with peanuts sauce). Since Darcy and Vince weren't with us, we ordered some takeout for them (pho with rare beef for Darcy; pad thai with chicken, tofu and vegetables for Vince).

What I love about going for pho is that since the stock is already made and the noodle take next to no time to boil, your meal is ready in less than 7 minutes. It is great stuff to have if you're in a hurry. The stock was a little bland and had a fruity taste that I wasn't used to, but it tasted clean and light. The noodles were thin cooked to the right degree. The beef was kind of tough, but I really should have ordered the rare beef instead of well-done. Tanya's soup looked really healthy with lots of colourful vegetables (carrots, cabbage, etc.) and large chunks for fried tofu (yum). The fried spring rolls were excellent -- crispy, savoury, and tasty. The fresh rolls were great too with crisp ingredients and nice, creamy peanut sauce.

The bill for everything we had plus the takeout was $45, so it was an amazing deal like pho usually is. I have a feeling though that Susur goes to this place because it is relatively close to his restaurants; not because it's outstanding. It was definitely decent, but it's not better or different than any other pho I've had in Toronto or Montreal. Golden Turtle is ridiculously listed in this 'Top 10 Restaurants' article on that includes Canoe and Bymark. I'm not saying that only expensive/pretentious restaurants belong in a Top 10. Golden Turtle shouldn't be on that list because it's not special. It's a standard operation that serves the exact same thing with the same quality that you could have at hundreds of Vietnamese restaurants in Toronto. They're just lucky enough to have an endorsement from a celebrity chef.

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