I was looking for a place to eat prior to the monthly Yelp Elite event – Pimp Your Profile Pic at Lomography. We arrived around 5:30PM to a relatively empty restaurant. It really is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with attempts of decor such as the paneled art on the walls (typical of a Vietnamese restaurant). The kitchen is towards the rear of the restaurant and makes you not want to know how your food is prepared.
In terms of service, it is totally non-existent except for when they bring you the menus and pot of tea. You will have to do cartwheels and somersaults to get service here.
Food-wise, I am torn. We ordered the Nem Nuong (grilled pork) as this is supposedly the dish that makes Anh Dao famous. Pho Dac Biet (Special Pho) and a rice dish that came with steamed egg, shredded pork skin and grilled pork were also ordered.
It should be noted that all of their Pho dishes come in one size at a price of $6.25. You do get a decent portion. The beef was not the most tender, but the noodles and soup base were amazing. It came with rare beef, beef balls and beef tripe.
The Nem Nuong was a disappointment as I found the pork to be dry. It is served with rice paper, mint, basil, bean sprouts, plantain bananas, cucumber, chives, and a hoisin-peanut dipping sauce. Other than the fact that the rice paper was not properly sized in order to make a wrap that didn’t fall apart, the ratio of rice paper to sausages was disproportionate. Six sausages to 5 rice papers. This problem could be remedied in 1 of 2 ways:
- Larger rice paper
- Double the quantity of rice paper provided. You can then half the pork sausage so that you can actually make a wrap that doesn’t fall apart.
The bean sprouts were showing bits of brown, which was kind of a turn off and I avoided using these in my wrap altogether. The hoisin-peanut dipping sauce was a bit diluted and not as dip-able. A thicker consistency would’ve made for better dipping.
The “com” (rice dish) was made with a short-grain rice and topped with scallion oil. Compared to other Vietnamese restaurants I would say that this is probably one of the poorer rice dishes I’ve sampled. I wasn’t a fan of the short grain rice as it gets progressively harder to get off the plate – even with a spoon. The grilled pork was overcooked, tough and dry. The steamed egg was nothing exciting.
Horrible service, but pretty decent food. I would advise that you stick to the Pho options on the menu as everything else isn’t really that great. I also wanted to try out the Grilled Shrimp on Sugar Cane (#14), another menu item that makes Anh Dao so popular, but was informed they were out. The damage at the end of the day was around $29 before tip. Cash only. If you are looking for a Vietnamese restaurant in the Chinatown area, go to Pho Pasteur on Dundas Street at the corner of Spadina Avenue. The service is great and the food is yummy!