by Malcolm Jolley
I’m not sure if what follows qualifies as class warfare, but there was no limit to the rage I recently felt when I went to open the door at Rose’s Café on Broadview, just south of Gerrard a few weeks ago to discover my favourite Vietnamese sub joint had been supplanted by a frigging architecture firm! Pretty much ruined my day. And I am still a little sore about it.
Oh well, there are still a few decent Ban Mi joints (restaurant is far too formal a word) around downtown Toronto. And the easiest one to find is Nguyen Huong, just north of Dundas on the west side of Spadina – they also have location in Scarborough, North York and Vaughn. There for $2, you can buy a well put together Banh Mi of mystery pork (liver?) paté-like meat, marinated carrot and daikon, cilantro leaves with chili if you like (I like) on a buttered 8 inch roll that is as crusty on the outside and soft on the inside as can be. There is also “large” version for $2.50.
Interestingly, the family that owns and operates Nguyen Huong is the very same that produced brothers David and Phil Chau, who have opened Banh Mi Boys on Queen West this year. The younger generation is doing some very neat fusiony things with Banh Mi, but they are charging upwards of $5 or $6 for a sandwich! It’s at their parents’ places that you can still eat for pocket change – and there is something deeply satisfying about dining without opening your wallet.
What Nguyen Huong does not have, at least on Spadina, is anywhere to sit. So, I recommend dining on pleasant weather days. There are a few parkettes in nearby Kensington Market, but I like to walk for five or so minutes up to the U of T campus. There is a corner store at College and Huron that sells bottles of water for $1, so the sum total bill of a park bench meal is $3, including tax.
If only you could get a decent espresso for $2, life would be perfect.
322 Spadina Avenue – www.ngyuenhuong.ca.