This is a follow up to the recent post on my favourite foods and drinks in Vietnam. Since we won’t be able to travel back there for quite a long time, I’m on a quest to continue discovering Vietnamese cuisine here at home.
Mainstream Vietnamese communities began arriving in Canada in the mid-1970s and early 1980s as refugees (also known as ‘boat people’) following the end of the Vietnam War. Most of them settled in southern Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Montreal, Quebec. Today, there are an estimated 240,615 residents of Canada who identify themselves as being of Vietnamese origin. In the Greater Toronto Area alone, there are about 74,000 Vietnamese Canadians, some of whom spend their daily lives enriching the city’s culinary culture with one of my personal favourite international cuisines.
Here are a few of my usual and new haunts for Vietnamese food in Toronto, Canada.
Pho Tien Thanh
📍 57 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Y9
This place will always have a soft spot in my heart as the place where Mr. Chuckles and I had one of our first dates, and where I introduced him to the joys of Vietnamese gastronomy. It’s a favourite spot for those who live out toward the west end of the city, particularly for their chả giò (fried spring rolls) and phở. I also enjoy the bún bi chả giò (vermicelli noodle bowls topped with spring rolls and pork skin) and the broken rice. Prices are reasonable, averaging $8 to $10 CAD per item. There’s a competing Vietnamese restaurant called Golden Turtle about a half block away that does not compare, so don’t go there. Another great feature of Pho Tien Thanh is that is it mere steps to Bang Bang, one of the top ice creameries in Toronto, so you have a place for dessert too!
📍 1156 College St, Toronto, ON M6H 1B6
I was introduced to Pho Linh by my mom, who vouches for this place as being one of the favourite authentic Vietnamese eateries amongst her social network of fellow immigrants from Vietnam. I think this gives it some extra credibility? The best dish here, in my opinion, is the bún. The phở is also considered to be pretty good. Unfortunately, this place was shut down temporarily back in January this year due to failing a health inspection, so that makes me squeamish. It has since reopened and continues to garner positive reviews on Yelp and Google, so perhaps all is well now.
Banh Mi Nguyen Huong
📍 322 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 1J6
As you know, I love bánh mì. In fact, I generally don’t like eating sandwiches, but I will nearly always be ready to consume a Vietnamese baguette. It’s difficult to find bánh mì that measures up to the amazing sandwiches we had in Vietnam, but the closest would probably be the ones from Banh Mi Nguyen Huong. This little shop in Chinatown sells bánh mì with either cold cuts or shredded pork along with pâté, for Vietnam level prices at only $3 each. They also serve other staples like bánh cuốn (rice noodle rolls), fresh spring rolls, and various Vietnamese desserts.
📍 241 Niagara St, Toronto, ON M6J 2L5
This place was a recent discovery, after Mr. Chuckles came across glowing reviews of it online. UFO Restaurant is oddly placed within a convenience store on a quiet side street, so unassuming that you would never know that it is a beloved local eatery serving fantastic phở and bánh mì. It has been open for takeout throughout the lockdown, so we stopped here a few weeks ago to try out the bánh mì. It was done a bit differently, filled with grilled marinated pork, reminiscent of the ones we had at Bánh Mì Phượng in Hoi An. I liked it, but missed the pâté, which I think is really an essential ingredient for good bánh mì. Price was also a little steeper at $5 per sandwich.
DZO Viet Eatery
📍 308 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G4
We found DZO on Uber Eats while searching for new takeout to try. It opened very recently, just this past March, and specializes in modernized traditional Vietnamese recipes. Interesting highlights on their menu include the ‘pho poutine’ and ‘Viet tacos’. I personally tried the taro fries and fried spring rolls, which were delicious. Would eat again.