Showing posts with label Vietnamese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vietnamese. Show all posts

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pho Tien Thanh: The Soup

There are some great perks to living downtown and being able to walk to some lovely dining options is certainly one of them. VN and KN both live just outside of Toronto's core around the Ossington neighbourhood. Yup -- that's the same place as Libretto (aka the best Neapolitan pizza I've had), but that's not what I want to talk about now. I want to talk about this small shop, Pho Tien Thanh, which is just down the street from Libretto.

VN and I walked to the pho restaurant and smelled their lovely broth about five feet away from their door. Once we took a step inside, the fragrant smell of BBQ'd pork (thit nuong) filled our nostrils. At that point, I knew we were in for a tasty dinner. The smell just invoked all the good memories of having Mom's BBQ pork. Our winter this year was very long, to say the least, and it seems like it was years ago since I had her marinated pork. We luckily got there just as the dinner rush was finishing up and so we were seated immediately in the restaurant.

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I couldn't decide if I wanted to deviate from ordering pho or actually change it up and try the bún with the thit nuong. Either way, I knew it was going to be tasty. In the end, I stuck to my guns and went with the small rare beef, beef balls and well-done beef pho. Once my bowl arrived, I took a sip of the soup. The aromatics were there without being overpowering. It had none of that strong cinnamon taste like most of the pho in Ottawa's Chinatown. The soup wasn't overly sweet either. Most of the beef was actually still uncooked, which is a huge bonus! You could order some rare beef on a plate and then add it into your soup yourself for $2. I think it's unnecessary in this case though. Only the thin slices that was touching the hot soup had cooked. When I separated the slices, they cooked gently in the soup. I was thrilled that the beef was actually rare by the time it arrived.

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This was the bun thit nuong cha gio that VN had ordered. We both liked how their cha gio was made with rice paper. It's the legit stuff. (For those who don't know, VN is Vietnamese. Like I said. Legit stuff.)

We washed it down with some cooling beverages. A refreshing coconut water with young coconut meat for VN and an iced Vietnamese coffee for myself. In our excitement to order, we accidently ordered the coconut water instead of the coconut slush had originally wanted.

The Asian Pear told me that if I wanted to have the best pho, I'd have to choose between two different pho establishments in Toronto: one with the slippery fresh noodles or one with an outstanding broth. Pho Tien Thanh is the latter. I wonder how their other dishes taste. The cash-only restaurant is open for business from 11am to 10pm everyday, so you have no excuses not to try out this place. I know I'll be returning in the future.

~*~
Pho Tien Thanh on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Quick Cuon Meal

We often make large batches of stuff and freeze a portion for later. The best part of that are the relatively quick meals as a result.

Exhibit A: Cuon, a Vietnamese rice paper roll filled with vermicelli and a variety of ingredients

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We had spring rolls, nem, and grilled pork -- all homemade. Being winter and all, we didn't lots of herbs in our pots. There were plenty of the fish herbs for Mom to enjoy though.

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These are my sad summer rolls. From left to right: whole spring roll with grilled pork, grilled pork with homemade slaw, grilled pork with half a spring roll.

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At first, I scoffed at the idea of adding slaw in the cuon. I gave it a try and it was actually pleasant. This reminded me of a banh mi.

I prefer to have bun cha gio instead of cuon though -- in the summer when the herbs are fresh and plentiful. When it's a cold winter day like today, I'd rather go for a hot bowl of bo kho or something.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cheap Beef Shanks, Bo Kho

Now that Mom has added bo kho to her repertoire, we are always looking for cheap beef shanks and/or beef short ribs.

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Here's one loaded bowl of bo kho and rice noodles. It was garnished with cilantro and a small wedge of lime. My mom likes to eat bo kho with fluffy warm bread.

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My cousin, KG, came over for dinner. He had a total of three bowls. This was his second round of bo kho and noodles--this time with a large bone to gnaw on. Okay, you don't gnaw on the bone itself. You're supposed to pick off the tender meat and tendons that are stuck on the bone. Some pieces of bone have marrow too. You're supposed to suck out all that creamy goodness. (That's what she said.)

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He liked it so much that he had a third bowl. KG said that he took home cooked meals for granted when he was living at home. It was a great humbling experience.

Mom's bo kho really hit the spot. I liked it when the bo kho was thickened almost to the consistency to stew, but it seems like everyone else likes it more loose. I just love the flavours and richness of the bo kho.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Neighbourhood Pho Joint

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Mom was working late. Andrew had to pick something up at the Shoppers, which brought us to close to a few dinner options; Cozmos, PJ Quigley's, Tim Hortons, and the Authentic Vietnamese Pho House. It didn't take long to decide.

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After a long day on Saturday and another long day at work on Sunday, I was running on fumes today. It actually felt like I was coming down with a flu. I felt exhausted, frail, and weak. All I wanted was pho to boost my energy. Anything else was just a bonus. Iced coffee? Spring Rolls? Nah, that's just greed...

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Random Tidbits: May - June

Grandma Tea's jang (aka lo mai gai, nom asom, sticky rice with mung beans and pork) is the best in our extended family. Nobody can make it taste as good.

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I typically don't go crazy over them like Lucy. But on one particular day, I fried up some of Mom's batch of jang and had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Perhaps I was lazy to make anything else. Perhaps.


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We had a large spread of food during one of our extended family dinners last month. Before that, Mom tried out a new batch of ham chim peng. They were still quite dense. I think that we need some double-acting baking powder or just give the dough more time to rise before frying.

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Lucy helped make the prahok khati (aka minced pork curry with anchovies). It's different from gapit pao, which is made without the anchovies. We ate the prahok khati with sliced cucumbers and rice.

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There was also salt and pepper shrimp and a large hot pot of samlor maju (Cambodian sour soup) with skate. My aunt also brought over bo kho.


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We ended up having leftovers of a few things. Since we had some bo kho, I soaked some noodles and had it for lunch the following day. My aunt added her homemade spice blend in addition to the bo kho seasonings, which made it more fragrant and spicy.


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We started to plant some herbs in our garden. This was the basil plants after a few days of being close to the flowers -- they got snacked on by little critters! That's my basil! I don't know youuuu!


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How about some homemade baozi? Mom woke up super early and decided to make some. She experimented with adding canned beans and chickpeas. It tasted fine to me.


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For Andrew's birthday dinner, Mom made a layered mung bean dessert called banh da long in Vietnamese. She made two types: one was softer than the other.


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I had lunch with CA the day after. We opted to share the condensed milk brick toast at My Sweet Tea for dessert. When it arrived, we were both glad that we shared one order. We thought it was too much but then proceeded to inhale it in under five minutes. Woops.


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The rain still hung around Ottawa. It wasn't as hard as the torrential rain we had the evening before, but it still rained hard, although it was brief.


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We had a BBQ pork rib dinner. The pork ribs were baked in the oven for about two hours before getting a turn on the BBQ. We made a sauce using the pan drippings, onions, sugar, ketchup, and BBQ sauce.

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Lucy and Jimmy brought some chocolate cake. We couldn't finish it, despite the pot of strong jasmine tea. The cake reminds Lucy and I of Matilda. Oh gerd, where's Mrs. Trunchbull? I definitely added some peanut butter to my slices of cake afterwards. It tasted like a peanut butter cup, except that the proportions were the other way around: more chocolate than peanut. It was so good!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Authentic Vietnamese Pho House

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The first time I saw this restaurant, the Authentic Vietnamese Pho House, was earlier last summer when I picked up some groceries at the Metro. I swear I smelled pho when I walked through the parking lot. Am I going crazy? Am I just craving pho? I thought to myself. I shrugged it off and didn't think about it until Richard mentioned that there was indeed a pho place in that plaza. He said it was decent. I made a mental note.

Sometime back in October, I dropped by for a quick bowl of pho and an order of spring rolls. The pho was good. I've been on a lookout for a new pho place that's closer than Chinatown. The last memory of going out for pho was with VN at Koi Asia -- and it wasn't a good memory either. The soup was extremely salty and didn't resemble the old Pho Mi 108 soup as it had in the past. 

(For those who didn't know; Pho Mi 108 was bought by the current Koi Asia owners and apparently kept some of their staff to do their Vietnamese dishes. At first, their pho and spring rolls retained the same flavours after their take over. However, over a few months, their pho standards began to steadily drop. I'd only order their Chinese dishes from now on.)

CA and I have gone to the Pho House more than twice. During our first dinner there, she explained that she used to be a pho addict back in university (after I introduced it to her). Since then, she's had mediocre experiences at multiple restaurants and pho just wasn't the same anymore. That's until we began inhaling our bowls of pho at the pho house. A week later, we both went back for more pho after we both had a long day at work.

Sometime later, I received a worrying text from CA out of the blue: "I think I have a problem."

Holy crap! What happened? Thoughts raced through my mind.

My phone buzzed again. "I want pho again" she admitted. We just had pho twice in just over a week.

I tried to console her: 
"Well, you've done well. The first step to getting better is admitting that you have a problem. :p I'm proud of you. As a former pho addict, I've learned to control my urges for pho. Pho no longer controls my life. And I just want to say that I'm here from you. :)"

That was back in October. Fast forward to a few nights ago on Pie Day; we went out for a quick dinner. CA ordered the pho with rare beef and beef balls. I got their hu tieu with chicken and rare beef. It would've been nice to see some banh pâté chaud (Vietnamese meat pies) as a special Pie Day option. Ah well.

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We received a plate of vibrant herbs and bean sprouts soon after. As we waited for our bowls of noodle soups to arrive, we got our dipping dishes ready with some Sriracha and hoisin sauce.

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Oh yeeeeah! Mine came with wider rice noodles, slices of napa cabbage, fried shallots, and soup made of chicken. Both of our noodle soups were tasty.

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The small restaurant is located across the police station on Greenbank Road, inside the Greenbank Hunt Club Center. You no longer have to venture out from Nepean for a good bowl of pho.

Authentic Vietnamese Pho House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Weekend at Mont Tremblant

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This past weekend, we brought our Aussie relatives up to Mont Tremblant. We rented a chalet and did some sightseeing. As soon as we got back to the chalet, people were either grazing or making food - sometimes both. Let me just say that the photos cover most of what we ate.

Mont Tremblant

Beavertails at Mont Tremblant
On the first full day we were there, we went up to the Mont Tremblant Village and walked around a bit. The weather was -20 Celcius with blue skies. We didn't stay there long at all. After a brief BeaverTails break (the Kilaloe Sunrise is pictured on the bottom left; cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice), some of us went tubing while everyone else went back to the chalet.

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Prime Rib Dinner

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That night, we had a spectacular prime rib dinner with a few sides: mashed potatoes with mint, side salad, heart of palm salad, and gravy. There was also Japanese-marinated chicken (soy sauce, palm sugar, ginger, and garlic) for those who didn't like beef.

South East Asian Fruit Punch
There wasn't anything for dessert that night, unless you count the southeast asian fruit punch that JN made. We used some canned jackfruit, rambutan and some of the liquid, longan, pineapples, lychee jelly, and fresh strawberries with Sprite, tropical fruit juice, and Grey Goose.


On the following morning, we breakfasted on bacon, breakfast sausages, bagels, rice, toast, coffee, hot chocolate, and/or tea. Then we snacked on some boxed white cake with fresh blueberries.

Fruit Platter
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Before we had lunch, there was a fruit platter of guava, papaya, strawberries, and asian pears. Containers of hummus and baba ganoush were opened along with a few bags of chips.

Marinated Ox Tongue
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Lunch consisted of marinated ox tongue, which Uncle TS prepared and marinated the previous night. It was served with a nuoc cham-like sauce: fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, garlic, cilantro, green onions, and chili peppers.

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Both the ox tongue and dipping sauce were addictive. Delish!

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Mom, Lucy, Jimmy, and Richard arrived with some homemade bo kho for lunch as well.

We (Lucy, Jimmy, Richard, and I) left the chalet before everyone else ate a lobster dinner. We arrived in Ottawa just after 9:30pm. I was so exhausted that I don't remember getting into bed. There was just so much food!

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