Lan Restaurant brings authentic Hanoi dishes to Broadview and Queen. It's named after owner Lan Nguyen, whose name means "orchid" in Vietnamese.
The entryway is topped with brickwork using bricks imported from Hanoi, and the theme continues throughout with another magnificent archway drawing the eye to the centre of the restaurant.
Antique decor includes buddha statues, a full-sized imported Vietnamese boat, an ornate 80-year-old wall piece and an antique dan bau (a Vietnamese instrument).
If it's hot out, an overflowing coconut smoothie ($4.95) is refreshing. If it's a little colder, be bold and try the egg yolk coffee ($4.50) where raw egg yolk gets added to the drink.
The spice of the coffee goes unexpectedly well with the light texture of the egg yolk, which must be scrambled at high velocity before its added.
We try the deep-fried spring rolls ($4.95), which are filled with a pork, shrimp, and glass noodle mixture, and are served with house-made fish sauce. All the sauces are homemade, and items like rice paper are specially imported from Vietnam.
The Vietnamese pancake ($9.95) stuffed with mushrooms, shrimp and chicken and served with pickles is a classic: huge, greasy, and crunchy.
Pan-fried beef rice noodles ($14.95) also don't skimp on good greasiness, which is soaked up nicely by the crunchy fried noodles.
Lan only offers one kind of curry ($14.95) - it's a red chicken curry, but the dish can be modified for vegetarians or heat level preferences. You can also choose from three side starches: rice, vermicelli, or traditional Vietnamese baguette.
One of Lan's specialities is "shaking" beef ($18.95), so called because it's cooked in such a way that the outside is cooked well-done, while the inside of the beef is preserved in a more medium-rare state. This dish is also served with rice and veggies.
Lan's steamed banana cake ($6) is a unique piece du resistance. Made by compressing yellow and red bananas into a cake and steaming it, we add the final element ourselves by pouring a hot milk and coconut milk mixture over the dessert. The result is a gooey, textured, not-too-sweet dessert that rounds off the spice of our meal.
Photos by Hector Vasquez