Rua Vang Golden Turtle Restaurant
Address: 125 Ossington, Toronto
Date & time of visit: September 9, 2012 + 6:00PM
Price (based on deluxe pho): Small – $6.50; Large – $7.00; XL – $8.50
Broth: 8 | Beef: 7.5 | Noodle: 7.5 | Condiment: 8 | Service/atmosphere: 8.5 | Overall: 7.9
Broth: 6 | Beef: 6 | Noodle: 7.5 | Condiment: 6 | Service/atmosphere: 8.5 | Overall: 6.8
Broth: 7| Beef: 7.5 | Noodle: 7.5 | Condiment: 7 | Service/atmosphere: 8.5 | Overall: 7.5
Broth: 6 | Beef: 6 | Noodle: 6 | Condiment: 7 | Service/atmosphere: 8 | Overall: 6.6
Overall Rating: 7.2
Quality per dollar (based on large pho): 1.03
Write-up from Jason:
Tempers flared this week at the Golden Turtle Phodown. With a whopping 1.3 point difference between the high rater and the low one, there was perhaps more variance than in any phodown in recent memory.
I will begin with my experience, as I apparently played the “Paula” role in this week’s ‘down. And starting with the broth, I thought this was a strong showing for Golden Turtle. It wasn’t a highly aromatic brew, but I detected significant depth of flavor without too much salt. There was a sizable MSG hit, but I thought it only served to accent the meatiness of the broth. I also felt the beef was good: it was fresh tasting, and the brisket was well marbled, tasting of a thick cut of roast beef. The biggest problem with the meat, as most others noted, was that it was quite limited in quantity. I barely got any tendon.
I may have been a bit high on the condiments, perhaps overly impressed by bushel of freshly picked basil that topped the plate of herbs. Indeed, we only got two lime slices (for four people), and a handful of crunchy bean sprouts. I did appreciate the chili sauce that came with the sauces, but didn’t like having to ask for little plates.
My colleagues, on the other hand, described the broth as “bland,” “not very flavorful,” and “not hot enough.” They didn’t like the thickness of the beef and felt it was chewy and not the appropriate color (read: it was too grey). We did, however, agree that the noodles were perfectly average – somewhat clumpy and slightly overcooked.
We also agreed on the service and atmosphere being a tick higher than the average pho joint. Golden Turtle has a nice patio, a rarity among pho restaurants, and one that offers the distinctive opportunity of al fresco pho slurping. Points were deducted for a somewhat surly staff.
As a whole, this was quite a sobering experience for me. We rate phos independently before comparing scores, but ratings generally match up pretty well. The divergence in meat scores seem to represent a difference in preference for thickness, but broth scores are hard to explain. Perhaps my palate was just off that day, or perhaps my pho-palate is changing. These are the riddles that help push us through the slog that pho-season can become.
Perpend: Sierra was once again the low rater, establishing herself as this phodown’s “Simon.” Related to absolutely nothing, Sean ended all his comments with the suffix, “dawg.”