Pho Tien Thanh
Address: 57 Ossington; Toronto, Ontario
Date & time of visit: October 24th 2015 + 4:30pm
Price (large): $9.25 CAD
Broth: 6 | Beef: 4 | Noodle: 8 | Condiment: 8.5 | Service/atmosphere: 7 | Overall: 6.7
Broth: 6 | Beef: 4 | Noodle: 6 | Condiment: 6 | Service/atmosphere: 7 | Overall: 5.8
Overall Rating: 6.25
Quality per dollar (based on large pho): .68
Write-up from Jason:
Vancouver in Toronto
It was a cold, wet autumn day in Toronto. In fact, it felt a lot more like Vancouver. I guess Angela brought the weather with her.
Angela and I worked in the same psychology lab at UBC in the early 2000s. I hadn’t seen her since 2007 or thereabouts. She messaged me a few days before this very Vancouver-like day: She’d be in Toronto this weekend for a conference and wondered if we could do a ‘down. Of course.
I respect Angela because when she solicits advice about travel, she actually uses the advice and then reports back. She was in Vietnam earlier this year and retraced the Chin Bros’ footsteps to both Pho Gia Truyen and Pho Le. She loved both and documented her travels on Instagram. I don’t know why sharing experiences like that – over a year apart – matters so much, but it does.
All this is to say Angela knows pho about as well as anyone. I wanted to take her somewhere good, but I haven’t really been blown away by anything here in Toronto. She was also staying downtown so something relatively close to that, in an area she might want to explore afterwards – the list is thin. Well, Sarah Mac and I had a pretty good time ‘downing Pho Tien Thanh (PTT) a few years back. Why not that?
PTT was relatively empty at 4:30 on a Saturday but filled up in a hurry. There was a line when we left. It’s not so clear why – the pho here has gone downhill. We’re talking alpine, double black diamond downhill.
The beef here was the main culprit – as you’ll see from the photo there really wasn’t much of it (an issue in the previous review). And what was there was cut thickly and extremely chewy (a new problem). Angela had a hard time getting through one particular chunk and that should never be the case with tai. The broth didn’t help, coming in a shade below hot and not at all sufficient to cook the meat.
That said, the broth was fine, not too salty but rather watery and unaromatic.
Our only serious disagreement was over the noodles, which I liked for their lack of clumpiness. Angela, however, noted they were several clicks past al dente. I didn’t pick up on this, but I am getting old.
Rounding things out, I was very happy with the condiments. The presence of sawtooth herb (culantro) was a boon, but why three sprigs for two people? That made for a dicey division of condiments but the odds were ever in my favor. Service was a bit slow and while PTT certainly has the hole in the wall vibe down but I’d appreciate a cool fishtank or two. It does get appropriately steamy in there on a cold night.
Ultimately, while the pho wasn’t top notch, the company was: Pho knows no boundaries and neither does friendship.