Pho: a noodle soup of filleted, rare beef brought to temperature in a shimmering pool of marrow-laden broth. Topped with coriander and Thai basil, spritzed with lime wedges and doused in chili sauce, this spicy, sweet and savoury dish is chewy and tender, and fairly enough described as a “textural Disneyland.” Best served in mercenary eating halls, where the reward is simply the food. Each outpost follows its own special recipe, so, in no particular order, here are five of Toronto’s five finest spots to grab some pho.
Pho Tien Thanh
Casually overlooked by lengthy queues out front the Golden Turtle up the street, Pho Tien Thanh is eagerly defended by its diners as the best on the Ossington block. Its rare-beef and brisket pho shouldn’t be missed, nor should its bare pink walls and friendly service. 57 Ossington Ave., 416-588-6997
Mi Mi Restaurant
With high acoustic-tile ceilings and familial service, Mi Mi Restaurant is praised by its east-end following for its hearty broths and delicately sliced beef. Pho is traditionally a breakfast dish, so skip the $15 brunch (read: eggs) down on Queen East and enjoy a bowl of rich flavours for half the price. 688 Gerrard St. E., 416-778-5948
Bright fluorescent lighting, a plastic plant or two, large communal tables — this is the eating hall vibe we mentioned earlier. Open 24 hours, Pho Pasteur’s mile-long menu and enormous portions are ideal at both 3 a.m. and 3 p.m. 525 Dundas St. W., 416-351-7188
Usually filled with Vietnamese patrons, west-end College’s Pho Linh is one of this town’s most authentic joints. Offering freshly-made noodles, its pho is worth a trek from any corner of town. 1156 College St., 416-516-3891
A classic. With its windowed shed addition, Pho Hung is a light-filled lunch spot occupying the corner of Spadina and St. Andrew. The beef is lean yet tender; the broth, light and flavourful. Take our advice and complement a bowl of pho with their chickens wings — death-row meal material. 350 Spadina Avenue, 416-593-4274
Image courtesy of Linh H. Nguyen.