Address: 125 Ossington; Toronto, Ontario
Date & time of visit: May 8th 2016 + 1:00pm
Price (large): $8.50 CAD
Broth: 5.5 | Beef: 7 | Noodle: 8.5 | Condiment: 7 | Service/atmosphere: 9 | Overall: 7.4
LRW Class Average
Broth: 8.4 | Beef: 7.9 | Noodle: 8 | Condiment: 8.4 | Service/atmosphere: 7.5 | Overall: 8
Overall Rating: 7.7
Quality per dollar (based on large pho): 0.91
Write-up from Jason:
Stay Golden, Turtle
Things can get lost when you break an experience down into its constituent elements. I recently started watching Netflix’s Stranger Things. The show is highly derivative, drawing from works like ET, Goonies and Super 8. The latter of those films is itself a nostalgia-filtered vision of what it was like to be a nerd growing up in the 1980s. We often condemn the derivative, but I’m not sure that’s fair when it comes to such loving recreations of simpler times (that, in actuality, weren’t that simple).
The same can be said for Golden Turtle, which despite being a less-than-faithful copy of a Saigon pho joint, provides an altogether enjoyable pho experience. With an expert front-of-house staff, breezy open dining room, and patio, Golden Turtle is an inviting destination for a convivial gathering. And that’s really what my last visit was all about.
U of T Law’s premier former legal research and writing (LRW) students and I met this past Mothers Day for a reunion pho lunch. I deeply enjoyed hearing what everyone was up to, and truly, the pho was not the most important part of the lunch. But, this being a phodown, we have to talk about it. You’ll see above that I listed my scores along with the average of the eight students that attended. You’ll also see that, regardless of what you think about my LRW teaching skills, I didn’t pass along much of my pho philosophy.
As I alluded to in my (likely misguided) analogy to Stranger Things, I thought Golden Turtle was lacking when it came to fundamentals (e.g., weak broth, not enough beef, limited condiments) but provided a great overall experience. The students disagreed, finding the service and atmosphere to be Golden Turtle’s weakest point. There are at least two conclusions one might draw from this. Maybe, like legal writing, phodowns are something you learn by doing. And, if we did enough, you’d see more agreement. Or maybe the atmosphere really wasn’t that great, and I let my own nostalgia colour my judgments. For now, the data support both hypotheses.