Five Elements is a family owned restaurant providing a mix of Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.
Saw a couple of good reviews on dinehere and, being a Pho and noodle soup lover, had to try it out.
First, this is more of a cafe than a full service restaurant. You order at the counter and then someone will bring the food to you. You get your side plates, smaller bowls at the front and serve yourself water from the water jug at the front. There is no free tea, which was surprising as most noodle places offer this (whether full service or partially self serve).
My kids, (age 8 and 6) noticed a "weird" smell. It was strong of lemongrass and a few other elements. It was a little offputting. I am pretty easy going regarding aromas - but it was not entirely pleasant. The kids hemmed and hawed and wanted to leave - but with a promise of a cold can of ice tea - they settled down.
It was a good thing that I checked out their menu on-line before going there. The on-line menu is much better presented than the one in a the restaurant. There were no pictures or good descriptions. I ordered a bowl of the Peanut Satay Pho with chicken for $9 to split between hubby and I. I ordered a Lemongrass Chicken with rice to split with the kids. I ordered 3 cans of ice tea. With a couple of dollars for tip - the bill came to just under $24. (Note - I only tip a full 15 to 20% for a full service restaurant. My tip is smaller when I order at the counter and pay first, hence the smaller tip).
Speaking of service - I had to rate it mediocre. I wasn't warmly greeted. The two women at the counter seemed to be busy talking between themselves. There was no water offered - the jug had disappeared. I only knew about because I read reviews on Dinehere and Yelp. When asked, she brought it out again. Also, when our soup came out - there was no serving spoon. I just used the large spoons and chopsticks at the table to dish out our meals. I noted that other empty tables with bowls still needing clearing had large serving spoons in them. I guess they just forgot ours.
Anyways - onto the food - the soup was as good as any Pho I have had in the city. Excellent broth - if there was any MSG in it - I certainly didn't taste it (and i have pretty good taste buds). The lemongrass chicken and rice was a generous portion, perfect for the kids to share. I tried a bite - it was flavourful and tender.
The women's washroom was clean and well stocked.
I think that they could make the experience better by offering a clearer menu with photographs at the counter (like they have in their on-line menu). Also, keep the water jug on the counter and let patrons know they can help themselves. Invest in a tea urn and keep some hot tea availalbe for patrons to self serve. Do something about the exhaust to help clear the front area of the strong smell. Finally - make sure that all the serving utensils needed to dig into the fantastic food are available.
Notwithstanding these few quibbles - I would return and recommend.
My partner and I ate here last night. We had the papaya salad to start. Very fresh, crunchy and juicy and a generous portion (especially of the large shrimp). It was a little mild in flavour (could have used more fish sauce and dried shrimp in the dressing). Very yummy nevertheless. Followed with the Sate Peanut Pho. Amazing. Peanutty, spicy and very tasty with a no-msg home-made broth. Lots of beef! I would definitely order this again. Apparently it's a unique recipe created by the owner. Also had a crispy spring roll. Also delicious. Flavourful, very crisp and not at all greasy. My partner had the Spicy Lemongrass with Vermicelli Pho. Also, very tasty, although the lemongrass flavour didn't come through as strongly as he had hoped.
Overall a very enjoyable experience. Delicious, healthy food, great service, reasonable prices. Will definitely be a mainstay of our dining out!
Had a very pleasurable meal with great company and good food. Will definately return. I especially enjoyed the paste with vintage wine. Very well prepared, freshly made and the service was on the spot. the service was great from the time we arrived to the time we left. She was attentive, but not over bearing, very friendly.
Me and my girlfriend have come here twice now since the place opened, both times have been spectacular. The food is delicious, we've had the Pad Thai, the Bahn Mi sandwhich, and the Pho so far. All of the meals were extremely flavourful, and prepared quickly. Possibly the best Vietnamese restaurant on the Drive, we will be coming back again and again. The staff are friendly and actually seem to care, compared to some Vitenamese places we've been to on Kingsway. I highly recommend the food here, you'll be wanting to come back the minute you leave.