When I started this adventure, with pen and paper in hand I walked around the few block radius of my office and wrote down all of the restaurants in the area. It was rather surprising to me that a couple weeks after I had done this, friend and Spotlight Contributor Nina Popovic tweeted very positively about her meal at Porh Pawh Bakery – a restaurant that clearly fell within my allotted radius, yet I had so easily missed. I dutifully added it to my list, and finally, a few weeks, had the pleasure of going with another friend (and also Spotlight contributor) Pauline Dong.
Despite having address in-hand, and having looked at its location on Google Maps, I almost missed it again. A tiny shop in a nondescript office or condo building, there are no literal or even figurative signs (other than a small sandwich board in front) that suggest there is a restaurant inside. Pauline, standing a few feet away, also missed it, and called to ask where it was located.
I hypothesize there is a method to this lack of discernibility and public-ness. Run by the adorable and sweet Estella Yeung, Porh Pawh Bakery is a one-woman show. She cooks all the food and covers the small front counter, taking orders while also preparing the food. All diners were greeted by name, and asked if they wanted their ‘usual.’ There is a clear sense of pride in the food that Yeung prepares and serves. While tiny, the space is clean, open and modern. However, be prepared to take your food to go, as there is only 1 table on the main floor, and a small bar in a loft-like area upstairs, and, on the day that I went, they had been reserved by regulars who had called in their order so that it would be ready when they arrived.
The menu is compact, and all of the lunch options are Asian inspired. (Note – they are also open for breakfast, serving a variety of bagel options). There are also pre-prepared baked goods that are available for purchase. I ordered the Cold Noodle Salad ($5.25) and the Tuna Nappa Salad ($8.00), and Pauline opted for the Chicken Nappa Noodle Salad ($7.25). Due to the popularity of the restaurant, and the fact that only 1 person is covering both the front and back of house, expect a bit of a wait. Or, you can follow the suits and call in your order in advance.
The portion sizes were quite large, and I ended up eating only part of my noodle salad, keeping the remainder for a snack later in the day. Made with fresh ingredients, both of my salads were refreshing and light, and nicely balanced with a slight tang and hints of acid, and definitely delicious. The cold noodle salad was a heaping bowl of wheat noodles, with chunks of shiitake mushrooms, nappa cabbage and bok choy, with a smattering of walnuts on top for crunch. My other salad consisted primarily of canned tuna on a bed of nappa cabbage and bok choy, but also included ingredients such as seaweed, pickled ginger, cranberries and shiitake mushrooms.
Porh Pawh Bakery is a bit like lost treasure: difficult to spot, but when you find it, you may not want to share it with others.
Porh Pawh Bakery
70 Adelaide Street East
Adelaide & Church Street
For an excellent interview with Estella, and more about Porh Pawh, read this article by Mary Luz Mejia (@maryluzonfood).