Happy New Year from your Friends at Toronto Phodown

Eastern Promises

It’s truly been one hell of a year here at Toronto Phodown.

I suppose I’ve always been a glutton for progress, and 2013 certainly improved dramatically as it went along. The progress can be seen in the 100 Dates of Summer series (which will soon wrap up – I promise!), which began after a long, trying Winter and evinces both a culinary and metaphysical transformation.

It can be seen in Eastern Promises, where for the first time in my life I lived outside of North America in a country where English was not the dominant language. I still have very nostalgic and emotionally evocative memories about long MTR rides home after a big exam in Central Hong Kong, many beers, and a bowl of spicy soup with new friends in Wan Chai. Times when every worry I had about work, school, and Toronto couldn’t farther from my mind.

And it can be seen in Chin to Chin, where my brother and I cut a swath through Vietnam, and where I consumed the best pho I’ve ever had. 2013 was a year of many firsts, many high highs and low lows, a time when I figured a lot of stuff out, and of the 32 I’ve seen, one of the most memorable.

To 2014.


Introducing Toronto Phodown Presents, Eastern Promises Presents: Chin to Chin

It’s an absolute pleasure to introduce yet another feature here at Toronto Phodown (as if 100 Dates of Summer and Eastern Promises were not enough).  And today is a special pleasure because it involves a much awaited trip to Vietnam with my brother Mikey (@Zerowritingcredits).

Here’s the deal: Mikey came to visit me in Hong Kong a few days ago – I introduced him to a few of my favorite restaurants, and now we are eating our way through Vietnam. So far, it’s been a revelatory trip and we are doing everything we can to keep the momentum going.

So here it goes…

Eat Toronto Presents, Eastern Promises Presents: Chin to Chin

Eastern Promises Intro


I’m currently sitting in the Taipei International Airport, waiting for a connecting flight to Hong Kong where I will be on exchange until December.

I know – the 100 (probably closer to 50, in actuality) dates of summer is not even close to finished. But time caught up with me and here I am.

It turned out to be a difficult decision to follow through on this exchange. Summer unfolded in a way that I didn’t expect and in fact turned out better than I ever hoped for. It was a very important time in my life. On one hand, I wanted to keep the momentum going and continue to explore the new life I had carved out in Toronto. But I also recognized that I may never get a chance to live in East Asia again. It was a difficult decision and one I did not come to lightly.

So here I am. It’s 6AM and I’m sitting in the international waiting lounge in Taipei. A baby is crying and the smell of beef noodle soup wafts from the cafe next door. There are already people in Toronto I miss dearly. While that’s a tough pill to swallow right now, I think in the long run that is a very, very good thing.

So here are my Eastern Promises:

-I will approach new experiences with an open and eager mind.
-I will approach new food with an empty stomach.
-I will find something I’m scared of doing and do it.
-I will surprise myself.

100 Dates Update

So, summer is fading and I’m only at about 20% of goal. The frustrating thing is that I’m pretty sure I have met my goal of 100 – I just haven’t had the time to write about them.

Now that work is over I am going to make a serious effort to actually write these damn things up, before they get lost in the recesses of my brain. Forgetting: one of our greatest defense mechanisms and one of our greatest limitations.

I’m Branching Out

Don’t get me wrong, I love pho as much as the next guy (the next guy is just having a hard time eating pho all the time).

But, I’ve come to the realization that as much I enjoy the Ford-factory level specialization that comes along with writing about one thing, and writing about it all the time, it’s just limiting.  I hope to dine out a great deal of the time this summer and it seems a shame to not write about it.

If you only want to read about pho, feel free to click the “pho” category on the right.

Italian dinner cat