Sherman's Food Adventures: Dundas Eat + Drink

Dundas Eat + Drink

Awhile back, I was invited to participate in the Six O Pho Challenge at Dundas Eat + Drink.  Prior to that, I had noticed they had re-branded from a fish & chip joint (still available) to a mainly Vietnamese eatery with a few twists.  Even though I was busy trying to scoff down all the pho I could handle, I did notice it was quite good with quality meats and a clean broth.  Well, we were invited back to try some of their other offerings (in particular, their new vegan dishes), where we didn't have to do any eating challenges.

For this tasting, they wanted to introduce some of their vegan offerings.  Naturally, I was skeptical at first, but after trying the first few dishes, I was impressed.  The usual issue is that vegan or even vegetarian food can sometimes be bland, but they really developed some good flavours here.  The garlic, ginger and fried shallot dressing for the Kale Salad was very impactful and in fact, with the copious amount of raw garlic, was very sharp and spicy.  The fried tofu was nicely crispy and added a "meatiness" to the salad.   They were also successful in creating a great tasting Vegan Curry where the spice level was medium while the aromatic coconut milk gave the sauce body the depth.  Yes, there was no meat, but the chunky, not overdone, veggies were robust and filling.

The next 2 offerings were the Vegan Pho and Vegan Bao.  Of course, it is always a challenge to develop umaminess when using just veggies for a broth.  I would say it was definitely clean and naturally sweet.  I detected some depth possibly from mushrooms.  However, it was definitely lighter due to the lack of meat, bones and marrow.  Regardless, I can see someone who is vegetarian or vegan being happy with this.  Stuffed with veggies, red onions and a seasoned tofu crumble, the bao were not devoid of ingredients.  Hence, it was a messy to eat, but that was a positive (you want things overflowing!).  The bao itself was warm and soft even though it sat a bit while we took photos.  The veggies were still vibrant while the tofu crumble was flavourful.

Our last vegan dish was the Vegan Pad Thai and we transitioned to meat with the Deep Fried Wontons.  The Pad Thai was appealing in colour and subjected to enough wok heat for caramelization.  The noodles were chewy while the veggies were still crisp including the raw sprouts.  With a squeeze of lime, there was a nice tangy and sweet balance while the savouriness was there too.  I wished there was some ground peanuts, since something seemed to be missing (and it wasn't the meat either), but most store-bought peanuts have been processed and may not be considered vegan.  I enjoyed the wontons as the skins were fried up beautifully being lightly crispy moist and tender filling, which mean it was rather soft.  The side of dipping sauce was tangy and spicy.

Onto a soupy item, we had the Pho Sate featuring a spicy broth that was nicely balanced in terms of saltiness and sweetness.  I thought the spice level was somewhere between mild and medium, but I can handle spice, so interpret this accordingly.  The noodles were still chewy despite sitting in the broth for quite some time as we took pictures.  There was a decent amount of sliced beef within the broth where it was more natural in texture indicating that it had not been subjected to tenderizers.  Served on a sizzling cast iron plate, the Shaken Beef (Luc Lac Beef) was meaty in texture, yet ultimately tender.  It was nicely seared and mildly seasoned.  The accompanying veggies were caramelized and sweet.

One of my favourite items was the veritable Lemongrass Chicken on Rice.  This was a good portion consisting of chewy rice that was on the drier side, however, that was perfect since we drizzled the nuoc cham on top.  Thick and well-portioned, the deboned chicken thigh was nicely charred and caramelized.  It was properly marinated where the aromatic lemongrass and savoury components had penetrated the meat.  Furthermore, that resulted in a succulent and tender texture.  One of the more unique items was the Asia Burger served with fries and sriracha aioli.  Well, the burger ate very much like most other versions, but it was a very good one though.  The patty was super moist and thick with the benefit of onions inside.  The brioche bun was soft, but held up to the wet ingredients including the sunny side egg.

Onto our last 2 items, we had the Dundas Platter consisting of spring roll, salad roll, chicken and beef satay, cassava fries and sauces.  Taking nothing away from the rest of the items, my favourite part of the platter was the crispy cassava fries.  These were crispy while soft and dense.  Loved it with the sriracha mayo.  The salad roll was solid too being tightly wrapped with on point textures.  The satays were well-seasoned and grilled where there was a smokiness in addition to caramelization.  The most creative dish was the Dungeness Dundas Nachos featuring fried wonton skins topped with crab, creamy Japanese mayo, chives and onions.  Light and crispy, the wonton skins were loaded with enough ingredients for impact including a decent amount of crab.  

Of course we have to talk about the Pho right?  Well, I went back and tried a normal-sized bowl rather than the enormous challenge portion.  This way, I could enjoy it for its clean broth that was mild-tasting with a touch of meatiness.  The conservative amount of sodium and lack of MSG made the healthy-tasting.  I found the noodles to be chewy and not clumpy while the meats were tender and well-portioned.  In addition to repeating the same dishes as above, I got a new one in the Dundas Spiced Wings (garlic butter flavour).  These were crispy with rendered skin with a seasoned batter.  The meat was succulent and juicy while the flavours were fairly mild.  So from sampling almost all of the menu from several visits, I can confidently say that Dundas Eat + Drink produces some pretty solid eats at reasonable prices.  This will probably be added to my regular rotation.

*Most food was complimentary*

The Good:
- All around good eats
- Reasonable pricing
- Nice people

The Bad:
- If busy, seating is at a premium
- Parking lot rather narrow (for those who are parking challenged... LOL)


LotusRapper said...

What's a father-son pair to do after a Pro-D day (again ?!?!?) morning spent on a frigid Grouse Mountain ? Get some F&C afterward!

We went there today. Quite impressed with their rebranding, room renovation and menu renovation. Service was good but slow since there's only one young lady tending to every table.

Food was pretty solid. LR Jr. had the 2-piece cod & chips. I had the grilled pork banh mi. No complaints.

Will revisit someday t try their vegan pho and other Vietnamese offerings.

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