Quick Bites: Pho Tien Thanh, Ice Creamonology, Nani’s Gelato

Pho Tien Thanh
BBQ Pork on Vermicelli at Pho Tien Thanh

Not a ton to say about this one — aside from the pork being a bit dry, this was a tasty version of a classic dish.  Most of the herbs and veggies are under the noodles, so you’ll just have to take my word for it, but there was a really good proportion of meat, noodles, herbs, and vegetables.  The meat was a little bit sweet and nicely savoury, and the whole thing was thoroughly enjoyable, if nothing too mind-blowing.

Ice Creamonology
Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake at Ice Creamonology

I wasn’t crazy about Ice Creamonology on my first visit, but I’ve been back a couple of times and it’s definitely getting better (or maybe it’s just growing on me?).  The ice cream is nice and creamy, and while it’s still a bit stretchier than your average scoop, it’s not as gummy as it was the first time I tried it.  I will say, however, that I haven’t been back since they’ve moved to Queens Quay, so I have no idea how it holds up now.

Nani's Gelato
Pumpkin Pie soft serve at Nani’s Gelato

I recently mentioned that the Pumpkin Pie Blizzard from Dairy Queen is the king of Blizzards, and this is basically just that, but a billion times better.  I tried this last October (I’m still working my way through my backlog since the blog came back from hiatus);  if you like pumpkin pie, the next time Nani’s brings this back (hopefully sooner than next October), you need to try it.  It’s so good.

Pho Ngoc Yen is a Hidden Gem

Pho Ngoc Yen
Location
: 1090 Kamato Road, Mississauga
Website: https://sites.google.com/orderup.ai/ngocyenrestaurant/home

Pho Ngoc Yen is one of those restaurants that must rely pretty much entirely on word of mouth; hidden away in an industrial neighbourhood in Mississauga, it’s basically in the middle of nowhere.  The odds of you stumbling onto it are quite miniscule.

Pho Ngoc Yen

But yeah, it’s definitely got the word of mouth that it needs, and I can see why — it’s great.

Pho Ngoc Yen

I got the Pho Ngoc Yen Dac Biet, which the menu describes as “NY’s special: rare beef, beef balls and boneless beef shank with rice noodles.”

Pho Ngoc Yen

It’s a great bowl of pho.  The generous amount of meat is tender and tasty, and the broth is beefy, richly spiced, and thoroughly delicious.  The noodles were slightly on the soft side, and my bowl was missing the beef balls, but the broth and the beef were both so tasty that this never felt like a big issue.

A Tasty Bowl at Musoshin Ramen

Musoshin RamenLocation: 9 Boustead Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.musoshin.com/

I think ramen might be my favourite dish of all time, which means the last year and change has been a long, sad, ramenless slog.

(Yes, there is instant ramen, but that’s not even remotely the same.  You could also make it yourself, but that’s an all day project and it’s never going to be as good as what you can get at even a half-decent ramen shop.)

Musoshin Ramen

Well, ramen is finally back in my life, and, of course, it’s delightful.  Musoshin is actually a small Japanese ramen chain (they have three locations in Kyoto) that recently opened in Toronto, and yeah, it’s good.

I started with the karaage, which features very crispy pieces of juicy boneless chicken thigh; this was maybe slightly too salty, but was otherwise packed with flavour and was top-notch fried chicken.

Musoshin Ramen

Next up was the ramen: I went with the namesake Musoshin Ramen, which features a porky tonkotsu broth — it has a very rich, roasty flavour with a lot going on (is it made with seafood, too?  Because it definitely has some subtle seafoody notes).  It borders on being a bit overwhelming in its flavour, but it never crosses that line.  It’s very tasty.

Musoshin Ramen

The noodles were quite good, too, with a springy texture and a satisfying level of thickness.  The egg costs extra, but it’s nice and creamy and worth the two dollar surcharge.

The chashu, on the other hand, is the bowl’s clear weak spot.  It was pretty dry and had a very pronounced gamy, leftovery flavour.  Everything else is delicious enough that this doesn’t really matter, but it’s a bummer nonetheless.

Musoshin Ramen

I had the strawberry mochi for dessert, and it was the perfect way to end the meal.  Featuring a full strawberry surrounded by sweet red bean paste with a chewy mochi wrapper, this was a delightful mix of chewy and creamy with a perfect level of sweetness.

Tasty Fried Corn Dogs at Woofdawg

WoofdawgLocation: 1357 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.woofdawg.com/

Woofdog used to operate out of a cart (called Kung Fu Dawg), where they made their own hot dogs from scratch and generally outclassed what you’d expect from a street vendor dog.

They’ve upgraded to a permanent location and changed their name to Woofdog; as far as I can tell, not much else has changed.  They still make their hot dogs in-house — you can pick from beef and pork, beef, or chicken — and they’re still serving top-quality eats.

Woofdawg

On this visit I tried the corn dog, and went with a beef and pork hot dog.  You can get one that’s more extravagantly topped, but I went with the basic version that comes with grainy mustard and nothing else.

Woofdawg

It’s very tasty, though I’ll admit that I was comparing it to the one I recently had at Disneyland, which, surprisingly enough, was clearly superior.  The hot dog itself is very good — it’s meaty, not overly salty, and delicious — but the coating is a bit bland.  It’s nice and crispy from the fryer, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of flavour.

Woofdawg

Still, the hot dog / mustard combo is so tasty that this is barely even an issue.  I think the regular hot dog is probably the way to go here, however.

Tasty Sandwiches at Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot Chicken

Chen Chen's Nashville Hot ChickenLocation: 1184 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.chenchenshotchicken.com/

It’s hard to eat a Nashville hot chicken sandwich in the GTA without comparing it to Chica’s Chicken, a place that serves what might just be some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

No, the sandwich from Chen Chen’s isn’t on that level, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it; it’s quite tasty.

Chen Chen's Nashville Hot Chicken

You can choose from five spice levels: Southern (which they describe as “no heat”), mild, medium, hot, or poultrygeist (which they describe as “extra HOT!!”). I went with hot, which is very spicy but not face-meltingly so.

The chicken is tender thigh meat — always a good thing — and the exterior is satisfyingly crunchy. My biggest issue here is that it’s a bit bland; outside of the cayenne-infused heat, the chicken doesn’t have a ton of flavour. It’s underseasoned.

The sandwich is topped with zingy pickles, coleslaw, and aioli, which all does a pretty decent job of bringing the sandwich some flavour. But the chicken’s blandness does mar an otherwise above average sandwich.