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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Week In Yum Jan 16-22 Pho Hung, Patois and Wahlburgers

my rare beef pho was every bit as delicious as I remembered and it will not be 10 years before I return


Pho Hung

I have to say just one thing before I get started:
One of the things I love most about The Kid is the fact that he will go rogue when we eat out and order something off the menu that none of us have ever heard of and doesn't really even care what might or might not be in it.

It was haircut time so we made our way to Kensington Market an hour or so before the scheduled appointment so we could whip in to Tap Phong for some espresso cups and grab lunch. Even though I know that neither of my boys feels the same about Vietnamese as I do, I asked if he would mind if we went to Pho Hung.

I started going to Pho Hung 30 years ago, when I first moved to Toronto. It used to be at a location a bit farther north on Spadina and although I miss the open kitchen and the big, wrap around bar that you could slurp your soup at, the current location is nice and bright and cheerful and it's only old fogies, like me, who still refer to it as the "new place". I used to eat at the Bloor St location from time to time during TIFF when we worked out of the Intercontinental Hotel but I think it's been at least a decade since I have dined at the Spadina restaurant. Despite the fact that we are at Kensington at least two or three times a month, we never eat here because I am the only one who ever wants pho and it's usually Shack, our picky toddler,  who decides where we will eat.

waiting for the strong coffee to drip into the cup of condensed  through before adding the hot, sweet coffee into the glass of ice

The minute we walked in the door, I was assaulted by familiar smells and I almost wept with happiness and nostalgia. Not even having to read the menu, I ordered myself a small rare beef pho and a cafe su da for The Kid. I went over the menu quickly to recommend a number of dishes that I knew he would like when it happened:

"I'm going to try #37"
#37 was just called  BÁNH XÈO or "Vietnamese Pancake with Shrimp and Pork"

Honestly, that could be just about anything. Is it a crepe? Is it a pancake? Is it more like an omelet? the whole shrimp and pork thing could mean anything.

It ended up being this giant, almost crispy omelet like thing stuffed with a ridiculous amount of bean sprouts, shrimp and pork and served with tons of fresh mint, lettuce and pickled vegetables.  He couldn't finish it all because it was huge but he liked it and said he would eat it again but would prefer to order it as something to share so that he could have something else too.

So, hat's off to The Kid for officially becoming the most adventurous eater in the family.

Patois


If you haven't had brunch at Patois yet, you need to do something about that. We joined some friends for brunch last weekend and I took a page from my kid's notebook and ordered something new. I pretty much always just want the fried chicken with waffles but, instead, I got the Patois Eggs Benny with jerk mortadella and hollandaise served over mini beef patties. It was so good that I don't know what I am going to do the next time we go there. Life was so much simpler when I only craved the fried chicken but the combination of the spicy meat from the patty, with the smooth, creamy sauce and the rich, runny yolk was absolutely perfect.

The Kid got that Hong "King" Kong Waffle with nutella, berries and whipped cream up there and judging by the speed at which he inhaled the food, I would say it's probably pretty tasty. Underneath the waffle is some french toast stuffed with spekulas cookie butter. I didn't get to taste that because it belonged to the son of a friend and so I am not at liberty to just take a big bite but, like the waffle, it was devoured in no time. The special was the Rude Boy- an oxtail grilled cheese served with coleslaw and kale salad. This is not a brunch for the faint of heart, the mildly peckish or those looking for a simple smattering of egg and bacon but if you want to try something new, delicious, decadent and indulgent, this must be on your list of places to visit.


Wahlburgers

Shack and I popped into Wahlburgers last weekend to see what that's all about. It wasn't super full when we first got there but by the time we were finished our lunch, there was a line up and it was absolutely jam packed. So, these are not cheap burgers at all. The burgers are all at least $9.25, fries, onion rings and tater tots are another $3.50 so you are looking at a $15 burger and fries lunch. If you are bringing a couple of kids, it's going to add up and so it better be one fantastic burger and fries, right?

We decided to try the trio of sliders for $16, which is actually not a bad deal. Each of the sliders is actually somewhere between a slider and a full sized burger at 3oz each and I really wanted to try more than one flavour. The big surprise for both of us was the Thanksgiving Burger. A moist turkey patty covered in stuffing, cranberry sauce, squash and mayo was our favourite out of the three and the one that we would happily order again as a full size burger. The buns are delicious, fresh and just soft enough to squish down so the burger fits in your mouth but with a nice, shiny crust that keeps it from falling apart.

The BBQ Bacon Burger was a close second but the OFD was not that great. It's a fine burger patty but it's kind of bland and there are way too many bulky toppings. It totally fell apart when we tried to eat it and we ended up just picking at the deconstructed burger. Burgers that can't be eaten unless you have a mouth like Jim Carrey are my pet peeve (which is why I love the Burger's Priest so much).

Fries arrived lukewarm and so we sent them back and when they were replaced with piping hot fries, they were very good and we barely touched the caesar salad that tasted like mayo with a touch of garlic. If Shack doesn't finish a caesar salad it says more about the salad than anything I can write, so there you go.

A featured array of grown up $15 boozey milkshake  tell me more about the crowd they are catering than anything else about the place - I use the term "grown up" loosely because no true grown up wants to drink a cocktail that contains four kinds of flavoured liquor, ice cream, chocolate cookies and blueberry syrup.

All in all, the food was good, it's really bright and lively, kind of loud and I would imagine it's hopping whenever there is a big sporting event going on. I will stick to lunch.



I want to Target this week with The Neighbour to help her pick out a frame for a photo and this is what happened to me. I just want to say that to all of you assholes who are crowing and almost gleeful that Target Canada was a failure and is pulling out, there are also over 17,000 Canadians who are going to be out of work. Say what you will about Target's issues with stocking shelves and pricing, they know how to train their staff to provide great customer service and I, for one, will miss my neighbourhood Target and I will miss the always smiling, helpful staff and I would take 100 understocked Targets over 1 Walmart and I hope that all the smart retailers out there run to snap up the wonderful staff that are going to be out there looking for a job when the door finally shuts.
Target, we hardly knew ye.

Oh yeah, my recipe for Cauliflower "Wings" Three Ways  has been included on The Healthy Living with Greatist #StumbleBloggers List




Again, it's almost time for Winterlicious! If you haven't tried my favourite Indian restaurant, Pukka, now's the time.
I think I am going to try to hit Daisho for lunch, Lee for dinner and then I have to pick a spot near the AGO for the day we go to see the Baquiet exhibit. Make sure to try at least one new restaurant before it ends on Feb 15.

Pin of the week: Oh, this will be happening in this house

Instagram of the week: This woman's feed will make you drool all over your shirt

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