Sherman's Food Adventures: Five Elements Cafe

Five Elements Cafe

For the second straight week, we stepped out on the Drive after Sunday morning hockey.  Why drive somewhere for eats when we could just stay nearby?  Since it was car-free day, we could do the leisurely stroll up to a random restaurant.  That we did with Five Elements Cafe, which serves up an eclectic mix of Vietnamese, Thai and house-made gelato.  Being counter-service, we merely picked out table and proceeded up to order.  For me, this was fine because I could get whatever I wanted myself such as more ice water and ultimately boxes for leftovers (without waiting an eternity for someone to do so).

We ended up sharing a plate of Chicken Wings as an appie.  Served with a side of lemon pepper dip, this had similar flavours to the version at Phnom Penh, but ultimately completely different.  The big, meaty wings were succulent while sporting a lightly crispy coating.  These were good in their own way with a touch of spice and accented by the peppery acidic dip.  For my main, I went for the Pho Dac Biet (or Mixed Meat on the menu).  Overall, I thought the pho was serviceable but hardly memorable.  The broth was fairly clean while a touch heavy on the sweetness.  I could pick out the meatiness which was definitely there.  The noodles were clumpy and a touch overdone while the meats were a fine except for the brisket.  I found it chewy and dry.

I also got an order of the Chicken Pad Thai which arrived in a strange yellow hue complete with the "shouldn't be there" Shanghai bak choy.  The abundance of veggies led to a wetter Pad Thai that didn't taste anything like a Pad Thai.  It was rather sweet with a touch of spice, yet it lacked tang and caramelization from adequate wok heat.  I found the big pieces of breast meat to be sufficiently moist considering its leanness.  Milhouse did not want to eat a whole Garlic Pork Banh Mi by himself, so I offered to share it with him.  Cold and not toasted, the bread was dense and chewy.  Inside, the pickled carrots and daikon were impactful with enough acidity.  The garlic pork was sweet and quite flavourful.

Milhouse wanted something lighter for his entree, so he selected the Chicken Stir-Fry with Rice.  Although the veggies were cooked properly being vibrant and still crisp, the dish itself suffered from a lack of seasoning.  Sure, there was a bit of garlic and sweetness, but overall, it was too watery.  Kaiser Soze went for the Thai Chicken Clay Pot which was served in a ceramic bowl (not really a hot pot).  This starch-thicken concoction was really sweet with a touch of spice (yellow curry).  We would've preferred to see a creamier version than the goopy one we see in the picture.  It was acceptable but hardly memorable.  Overall, we didn't dislike the food at Five Elements, but was hardly impressed either.

The Good:
- Large portions
- Vietnamese fare was okay

The Bad:
- Thai food was strange
- No A/C, quite warm inside

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