The last time I ate pho was around 6 years ago when I was still working at IBM. I had completely forgotten what it tasted like so I decided to head out and try one of Toronto’s more popular places for pho, Tien Thanh. Most of the reviews for this place were very positive that I read and most of the complaints were related to the appearance of the restaurant itself which isn’t a big deal for me if the food is on point, so I decided to give them a try.

Upon arriving at the restaurant I noticed what the reviews I had read had been talking about. The place is kinda ghetto looking, but who cares if the food is good. We quickly were seated at Table #4 by a very friendly waiter and immediately offered some tea.

Inside Pho Tienh Thanh

The menu itself has a ton of options! I was determined to try some pho, so I went with the waiter’s suggestion. Amanda (@amandablake9) on the otherhand wanted to try the BBQ Pork Vermicelli w/ Springroll dish (#59). Here is a scan of their menu as of December 2011:

Pho Tien Thanh Menu 1/3

Pho Tien Thanh Menu 2/3

Pho Tien Thanh Menu 3/3

Not knowing where to start with this menu, as mentioned above, I went with the waiter’s reccomendation of a medium #15: Pho Tai Chin (Rare beef, well done noodle soup) which I believe he said was a combination of sliced beef and brisket.

Pho Tai Chin (Rare beef, well done noodle soup) - $7.25

Both Dishes w/ Sides of Sprots, Thai Basil & Lime

The dish arrived with sides of sprouts, thai basil and lime to add to the soup and there were also some sauces on the table (hot sauce & I believe a fish sauce). I quicky added my fixings and began devouring the soup. The beef was nice and still cooking in the soup when it arrived at the table. The noodles themselves don’t really have much flavour but are probably more just used to help you fill up. Once I got to the broth it was extremely delicious (though I may have added a bit too much hot sauce – rookie mistake). I had never really been too interested in eating pho because I didn’t think it would fill me up, but I was more than stuffed after finishing this dish. Overall it was very good and I would eat it again!

BBQ Pork w/ Spring Roll on Vermicelli - $7.75

Amanda ordered the BBQ Pork w/ Spring Rolls on Vermicelli. I did try a bit of her dish and can say I loved the BBQ pork, but the spring rolls didn’t do that much for me and didn’t have the greatest flavour. The portion also seemed quite small and consisted mainly of noodles which was a downside. Amanda also told me she had this dish prepared much better at other restaurants for a lower price, but would probably eat it again if she came back.

Coconut Milkshake ($3.50)

I washed my meal down with their coconut milkshake which ranked highly on their FourSquare tips. The presentation was kinda funny as it looked like they had attempted to make the lid into a makeshift umbrella (the kind you would receive at a tropical resort). The flavour itself to the drink was just okay, some small chunks of coconut, definite coconut milk (or cream) but it did seem a bit heavy on the ice though so it’s probably not something I would order again.


Our waiter (the guy in the purple shirt in the first picture) was awesome! He definitely works his butt off there (serving the entire restaurant) and made the experience 10x better! He had a very friendly approach and was probably one of the best servers that I have ever had!


Our total bill came to just over $20 so I think this is a great place to go for a sit down meal where you won’t break the bank. The pho was very flavourful and I would definitely return to try some of the other variations.


If you can get past the look of the place and are looking for a great dish to fill you up, I would definitely give them a try. Unfortunately I am not really an expert when it comes to pho so I will have to try some more places so that I can compare their dish and see how it rates against the competition. I will update this review once I get around to doing this. The service was incredible and the food was delicious, so based on these two alone I will return!

SCORE: 6.5/10

Pho Tien Thanh on Urbanspoon