After a long day spent working in the studio up in the giant pixelated box that is OCAD, there's nothing I enjoy more than grabbing a hearty, tasty, and affordable bowl of special Hanoi-style pho at Hanoi Bistro. Sure, I have my favourite pho spots closer to home (usually Pho Hung or Saigon Palace), but Hanoi Bistro has truly become a tasty little Vietnamese sanctuary closer to school. And judging from all the filled seats at lunch time, many others seem to share the same sentiment as well.
Having only opened a little over a year ago, Hanoi Bistro has already managed to find its true fit in the eclectic mish-mash of restaurants that is Baldwin Street. Offering classic Vietnamese favourites like spring rolls, delicious fruit shakes, and a variety of different kinds of pho, they have quickly become a local lunch time favourite for those who live and work in the area.
I started off this particular visit with my usual glass of iced espresso and condensed milk. Since living off of several of these a day on a trip to Vietnam a couple years ago, I have yet to find a drink more satisfying in the summer. Of course, in the winter, the hot version isn't all too shabby either.
Up next were the fresh shrimp rolls. An amazingly simply dish, but somehow some places still manage to screw this one up by exaggerating portions or wrapping the rolls too loosely. Well I'm happy to report that Hanoi Bistro is not one of these places. A nice combination of flavours and textures in a roll that manages to stay together quite nicely even after biting into it.
Finally, what is quickly becoming my all time favorite bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup in the city: Pho Dac Biet Sot Vang... or what they simply refer to as "Hanoi Bistro Special Rice Noodle Soup". This slightly heartier and richer take on the classic pho soup comes packed with a load of thin rice noodles and thick cuts of moist beef (cooked in white wine), all served in a rich beef broth with cilantro and green onions. Though their standard pho offerings are still right on the money, this particular Hanoi-style take on the dish always leaves me soothed and satisfied just a little bit more than the rest.
All in all, I'd definitely recommend giving this place a try if you haven't already. The owners are friendly, the place is clean, the food is spot on, and if you manage to grab a table by the window you'll have a lovely second floor view of the Baldwin strip below.