Location: 421 Dundas Street West, Toronto
The dish I ordered at Origination Noodle House turned out to be basically the exact same one I had at Dagu Rice Noodle. I probably should have realized that it was the same dish, but it didn’t occur to me until I actually started eating.
It was fine. I wasn’t crazy about it at Dagu Rice Noodle, and I was similarly unmoved by its charms here.
The presentation was interesting. It’s basically a bowl of noodle soup that features thick rice noodles along with various meats and veggies in a basic (and bubbling hot) broth. But at Origination, it comes completely deconstructed.
First, they bring you a plate with all of the various meats and vegetables, then they bring a bowl of noodles, and finally, a bubbling hot bowl of broth. Everything gets dumped into the broth, and you’re good to go.
I think the version at Dagu Rice Noodle was slightly better, if only because the meat (and the tender pork in particular) was more satisfying. It was otherwise very similar: chewy rice noodles, veggies of various textures that all taste about the same, and a simple broth that practically demands a very liberal application of chili oil.
Like at Dagu, I didn’t dislike eating it, but I can’t say I’m in any particular rush to have it again.
Location: 259 Queen Street West, Toronto
The pho at Pho Vistro was fine. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it, and I didn’t dislike eating it.
But it made no real impression on me; my biggest takeaway is that it was food and I ate it. It wasn’t memorable in any particular way.
They have a few different varieties of pho on the menu; I ordered the restaurant’s namesake dish, which features beef and chicken.
The broth had a nice, clean chicken flavour, but almost none of the distinctive spicing you expect from a good bowl of pho. They have a couple of bottles of sauce on the table that add a nice dose of spice and zestiness; these are absolutely essential. On its own, the soup is seriously bland.
The slices of chicken and beef are okay, but they all had a vaguely leftovery flavour, and they’re all a bit tough.
The broad rice noodles are what you’d expect. They’re good.
It all adds up to a very inoffensive meal that I can’t imagine anyone getting too excited over.
Location: 505 Highway 7, Thornhill
There are a couple of things that make Dagu Rice Noodle stand out from the typical bowl of Chinese noodle soup that you’ll find in the city.
The first is right there in the name: they use rice noodles, which are quite different than the standard noodles made with regular flour. They’re a bit softer, with a slightly gummy, chewy texture. I think standard noodles are a bit more satisfying, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with what they’re serving here.
The other thing that sets it apart? It comes in a Korean-style super-hot stone bowl; it’s a bubbling inferno. Honestly, this kind of baffles me. I’ll admit that I generally don’t like my food to be piping hot (if it’s so hot that you’re at risk of burning yourself, then it’s too hot. No thanks), so I guess I’m not the target audience here. But I just don’t understand what the benefit is to serving any food so hot you can’t safely eat it.
I suppose I should mention what the soup actually was. I ordered their signature noodle soup, which comes with braised pork, various sausagey meats, as well as a bunch of vegetables.
The super tender pork was probably the highlight. It was very similar to what you’ll find in a bowl of Korean pork bone soup, and it was full of meaty fall-off-the-bone goodness.
Everything else was fine. The broth was kinda one-note salty, but was immeasurably improved with the chili oil they’ve got on the table. The whole thing was enjoyable enough, but it’s probably not something I’d get again.