When Hoang Long Casual Fare first opens on 109th Street, the name triggers a Pavlovian response, causing our mouths to water at the memory of meals at other Hoang Long joints in the city.
Fans of Hoang Long Noodle House and Hoang Long Family Restaurant will already be familiar with co-owner David Vu’s fresh Thai and Vietnamese dishes. While Hoang Long Family Restaurant has closed down, the Noodle House remains open. Now, Vu has brought his tempting, tasty cuisine downtown with his new place, a cafeteria-style restaurant that’s good for sit-down meals or as a quick take-out option.
The Hoang Long Thai salad is more delicious than any salad has the right to be – atop bean sprouts, baby spinach, red cabbage, basil and red pepper lies a hearty helping of succulent beef. The meat is lean, slightly crispy and tastes like no beef I’ve ever eaten before – it’s subtly sweet, but at the same time, intensely smoky.
While no dish can compete with the Thai salad – that magical beef – the Thai noodle coconut soup is a close second. The broth is decadent without being overpowering, a savoury mix of coconut milk, green onion and spice. There is a surprising amount of vermicelli noodles and chicken mixed in with the broth – it’s a good dish to share with a pal.
The beef sate pho is also a generous dish. It’s rare beef and rice noodles bathed in slightly salty liquid. Top off this steamy dish with an endless supply of bean sprouts and herbs from a self-serve station. (10037 109 St., 780-486-6998, hoanglong.ca)