Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fine Asian Bowl, Toronto Centre

I was spending sometime in downtown Toronto, around Yonge and Dundas, and felt like having a real good dinner – which means a beer or wine, appetizer, main dish and possibly dessert (if there was still room in the stomach) and coffee, so went on a recce one block on each of the four sides from the Yonge and Dundas Square.

There was a Mexican grill and Pumpernickel on Yonge, Spring Roll on Dundas, a micro brewery, an Asian restaurant and a steak-house on Yonge south.

I liked Asian Bowl, because I wanted to have rice. The board said it was a mixture of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, and I thought it might a fusion restaurant, or one of those restaurants that put a milder version of the original dishes from the source to attract a wider crowd, including the second generation.

For appetizers ordered soft shell crab and tom yum kai soup. The soft shell crab was different from what I have eaten usually at Japanese restaurants. Chunks of crab dipped in batter and deep fried but, unlike the Japanese variety, this was not crispy. It was served atop crispy thin sticks – it could have been some sort of deep fried rice sticks. There was no sauce.

I am not a big fan of tom yum kai, but I know it is considered hot and sour. I found an additional dash of sweetness and saw pieces of pineapple. It is good for those who cannot stand too much chillies.

For main, I ordered vegetable fried rice and Bun Bo Xao Xa Ot, which is supposed to be stir fried beef with lemon grass, hot chilli and garlic and onions. This is a variation of my usual preference for Vietnamese dishes – the bowl of broth with rice noodles and meat. I wanted to taste the rice vermicelli noodles without the broth.
The beef was tender and well marinated, while the noodles were just rightly cooked – not soggy and not too hard. It came with a garlic-chilli sauce but I asked for extra chilli sauce.

One of the differences between South Asian and Vietnamese dishes is that in South Asia the chilli is usually ground and added to the curry while in Vietnam the broth is kept neutral and one bites off of a chilli. Because here there were no chillies to be seen, and the sauce was too mild for my taste, I asked for chilli sauce.
The fried rice was very good, with green beans, carrots and broccoli chunks.
For desert, I ordered green tea ice cream. Nothing special about this.

It was a worthwhile experience and as I had imagined, this was a restaurant serving more of watered-down versions of the original, so to attract a wide variety of customers. Most of the diners were young people.

The restaurant does not serve alcohol, nor does it accept MasterCard or Amex.

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