Location: 515 Dundas Street West, Oakville
The Pho Beef Banh Mi at Just Braise in Oakville is pretty much exactly what you want it to be; it is the Brundlefly version of a bowl of pho and a banh mi, and it’s delicious.
Here’s how the menu describes it: “braised beef, pho sauce, pickled veg, cucumber, garlic mayo, hoisin+sriracha, cilantro.”
The combo of the beef and the pho sauce does a great job of capturing the flavour of that particular soup. The only issue: the beef was actually pretty dry, which holds the sandwich back from greatness.
Everything else was quite tasty — the pickled veggies and the crunchy cucumber add a nice bright counterpoint to the savoury beef, and the garlic mayo / hoisin / sriracha combo compliments the beef very well.
It helps that the bread is perfect; it’s lightly crispy on the outside, with a great fluffy interior. It’s a tasty sandwich.
Location: 780 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga
Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice is a Chinese chain that recently opened seven simultaneous locations in the GTA. Opening one restaurant is tricky enough; I can’t even imagine what must go into opening so many at the same time.
Whatever kinks they had (and there must have been kinks) since opening in September have clearly been worked out; the food and service were both top-notch. Apparently they have over six thousand locations worldwide, so I guess opening seven more is no big deal.
As you can probably guess from the name, Yang’s specializes in braised chicken rice, a dish in which tender, saucy braised chicken is served with a bowl of rice.
You can either get it standard or boneless (I went with the former), and you can pick your spice level (I picked “authentic,” which was actually quite mild; I’ll probably go spicier next time).
It seemed a bit simple at first, but it really grew on me; by the time I was done, I was 100 percent into it.
The chicken is quite tender, and has a nice soy-sauce-infused flavour from the braising liquid. Combined with the rice and the richly flavourful sauce, it’s surprisingly addictive.
Oddly enough, however, the chicken wasn’t the highlight — it was the slices of mushroom in the sauce. These things do an amazing job of soaking up all the flavour from the dish; they’re basically chewy little flavour bombs. They’re delightful.
Location: 8362 Kennedy Road, Unionville
Big Beef Bowl is another place that serves fresh, chewy noodles, which means I’m pretty much going to love it by default. I’m very easy to please when it comes to a big bowl of delicious noodles.
I got the braised beef brisket noodles, which comes with your choice from six types of noodles: round or flat, with three thicknesses each. I got the round noodles in a medium thickness. And they were great — they might have been ever-so-slightly too soft, but they were otherwise hearty and chewy and satisfying.
The soup itself wasn’t anything too special, but it got the job done. It was a bit spicy by default, but was improved immeasurably by a few hearty spoonfuls of the chili oil they’ve got on the table. You always have to be careful with that particular condiment, because depending on the place, its spiciness ranges from a moderate tingle to volcano hot. The one at Big Beef Bowl isn’t particularly spicy, but it has a satisfying toasty flavour that really improves the soup.
There were also several chunks of fatty, immensely tender beef brisket. I could have eaten a whole pile of these.