Lorette C. Luzajic

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I Dream of Mi Mi's

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By Lorette C. Luzajic

It seems unanimous from the laminated reviews on Mi Mi’s walls that this garish little orange and coral hole-in-the-wall is cheap, clean, delicious and “undiscovered.” My discovery goes back a year or so, when the search for nourishing noodles and delectable Vietnamese cuisine led me to its humble locale near Gerrard and Broadview. The brown and rust walls boast a glossy panorama of Vietnam and an aquarium with giant fish give a bit of personality that’s sorely lacking among a few round or rectangular glass-topped tables. At the entrance, an altar spilling with oranges gives dues to the gods, and it would be advisable for you, too, to give your thanks when Mi Mi brings its fare to your table. This is outstanding food for the budget-conscious, and even those who can spend more may not care to as this is the best you can buy of Vietnamese in Toronto. There are hundreds of items, and you can go often, as the prices range from a couple of bucks to a whopping $9.50 for the largest platter on the menu.

On a hot day, the lychees with ice sounds a cool and exotic offset for the obligatory steaming tea, and sure enough, it is exactly what is described- a glass full of crushed ice and sweet, delicious lychees. Soup is a sure bet for a starter, but don’t order anything other than small- they’re meals on their own. I tried the shrimp dumplings with rice and egg noodles, but the more adventurous can try lean rare beef with beef balls if they like. There’s at least 30 soup options, so don’t be alarmed if you can’t brave the assortments of balls and tendons or pig organs and pickled cabbage on the menu.  

The shredded pork spring rolls were also huge, rolled in rice wraps with an abundance of fresh mint. I smothered mine in the sriracha chili sauce that sits invitingly on the table. A cool, watery and sweet fish sauce with shredded carrots helped with the ensuing internal fire. Now that I was full, the main course arrived. This time I tried the BBQ beef and BBQ pork with vermicelli and bean sprouts. Most dishes come with rice or with vermicelli noodles- both are wonderful. The BBQ selections are perfectly seasoned and I could gorge myself on nothing but mouth-watering meat, but I’ll leave that to Homer Simpson. Mi Mi’s is famous for Sugarcane Shrimp, and rightfully so. For me, it’s a toss-up with the BBQ fare, but I can readily avoid other authentic homeland options like stir-fired spicy pig intestines and “special assorted meats”- I wish I was braver, because Asian diners are definitely enjoying their aromatic platters, and I know those weird animal parts are packed with nutrients.

Only if you haven’t eaten for a week should you order the do-it-yourself platters. With rice wraps, chopped mint, basil, shredded veggies, vermicelli, peanuts,  and options of sausage, BBQ, shrimp and those “special assorted meats”, you stuff your own roll-ups before stuffing your gut. I enjoyed the ritual immensely, and liked trying the different tabletop vinegars and seasonings on my creations.

After dinner, head across the street to the markets- you’ll want to pick up bok choy, shallots, mint, peppers, rice papers, seasonings, and lychees and more to Do It Yourself at home. The shocking thing is that the stuff is nearly free- I bought two bags of greens and fruits and it came to $2.94. That leaves plenty to squeeze in another trip to Mi Mi’s later this week.

Mi Mi’s Restaurant
688 Gerrard Street East, Toronto


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