A while back I reviewed Asia Republik, a new Vietnamese-Thai-Chinese restaurant along Bloor West in the Annex that dubbed itself, "Best Cheap Eats with Class". The food was great and the value impressive for such a swanky looking location (the former home of Goldfish ).
Since then, the Republik caved, remodelled a little (ie. crystal chandeliers) and was reborn this week as, "Crystal Rolls". I stopped in on opening night to see if underneath all that sparkle, the food was still any good.
Good news. The menu has changed around a bit, bringing even more options than before, but quality and value -- like the staff -- remain the same.
Sitting in the window with three friends, we start with edamame beans (#.50) and Vietnamese style spring rolls ($3.95). Standard beans and above-standard rolls. Crispy on the outside and absolutely p-a-c-k-e-d on the inside. There were gone in moments. The menu also features a number of cold rolls which I'll have to try my next time by.
From the entrees we chose See-U Noodles (pictured here) and Wok Seared Gailan (pictured up at the top).
The food took a long while to get to us, but just as we were getting weary, Crystal moved in to impress.
See-U Noodles ($8.95) is thick rice noodles stir-fried with chinese broccoli, eggs and soy sauce. We chose to have them done up with chicken, though tofu/shitake and seafood options are also available. The thick noodles were super soft yet solid enough to handle without falling apart everywhere - as can so often be the case. Chinese broccoli (gailan) and chicken were tender and mixed in generously. This makes a great lone entree or dish for sharing.
I picked the Wok Seared Gailan ($8.95) from a really colourful"Vegetarian Lover" section of the menu. It featured chinese broccolli/gailan (my favourite vegetable!) with mushrooms and sliced red peppers all tossed in shredded garlic and garlic sauce. This was much better than I'd anticipated. Everything was so incredibly fresh. For once, the photo really does tell the tale as this one was every bit as flavourful as it looks. With a side of jasmine rice, it makes for a healthy and satisfying dinner choice.
Of course, Asia Republik had such great pho and curries that we had to at least try out one. We went with the quintessential Pho Beef ($6.95) which pretty much comes in "one size feeds all". Note the size of the spoon compared to the bowl.
The amount of delicate rare beef (no fatty, cartilage-ridden pieces to be found) was really impressive as was the noodle portion. The photo below shows the post-mixed bowl as we passed noodles around to everyone. Wow.
Crystal Rolls is open til 10:30 daily, does take-out AND delivers between the huge area of St Clair to King and Dufferin to Parliament. Somehow, I am outside the range over at Lansdowne, but I'll definitely be stopping in, in person, again soon.