Like the One Ring to rule them all, to me, pho is the ultimate in noodle soups. That said, I know some people can’t have beef, or just prefer to change it up now and then. For those seeking variety, or have a group of particular eaters, Tao Garden would be a good option.
Located behind Lucky 97 in Chinatown, Tao Garden offers a pretty good deal – a customizable bowl of noodle soup plus a hot coffee or tea for just $10.50. Select a broth base, a type of noodles, and two toppings (ranging from vegetarian to meat and seafood) and you’re on your way!
Tao Garden menu
The broth choices surprisingly don’t include beef, but the dozen varieties include chicken, lamb and seafood-based soups. On my first visit a few weeks ago, I decided that the chicken broth would be a good baseline test. I added thick rice noodles, sliced beef brisket, pork and shrimp wontons, and (for an extra $1.50 per item) baby bok choy.
Loved the mismatched cups
The broth had been nicely skimmed, but was under seasoned. Punched up with some chili oil, the soup was satisfying enough. I’d likely venture into the lamb broths on my next visit. Regarding the brisket, I was expecting the thin-sliced versions found in pho, but the thick pieces of meat here, slightly on the chewy side, made for a nice serving size. The won tons were easily my favourite, full of flavour; I would have gladly ordered an additional serving.
My noodle soup
Though Tao Garden also offers some rice-based dishes, congee and appetizers, not one table ordered anything but their noodle soups. The “choose your own adventure” concept does make them unique. Combined with friendly service (the server refilled our tea multiple times without request, never a given in Chinatown, unfortunately) and a well-kept interior, it is a restaurant I wouldn’t hesitate to return to.
9642 107 Avenue