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Toronto recommendations?

Toronto recommendations?
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  • Post #61 - August 2nd, 2012, 9:29 am
    Post #61 - August 2nd, 2012, 9:29 am Post #61 - August 2nd, 2012, 9:29 am
    I echo Steve's comment -- great post. I'm debating a fall trip and Toronto is nearing the top of the list.
    -Mary
  • Post #62 - August 2nd, 2012, 10:58 am
    Post #62 - August 2nd, 2012, 10:58 am Post #62 - August 2nd, 2012, 10:58 am
    Good report, Bob. If you like the yerba mate, they have a decent roasted version at Argo. It used to be in the regular rotation, but nowadays you'll have to special order it and wait. I think it's worthwhile. El Mercado, the Argentine and pan-South American shop attached to Tango Sur has a vast collection of mates and all the utensils you'll need. It's also enjoyed, to a lesser extent, in Cuba and is the active ingredient in the easy-to-find Materva-brand yerba mate soda.
  • Post #63 - August 2nd, 2012, 8:32 pm
    Post #63 - August 2nd, 2012, 8:32 pm Post #63 - August 2nd, 2012, 8:32 pm
    Great report, turkob, and also many thanks to PIGMON above for flagging Mei Nung for what appears to be my personal ideal in NRM. It truly is a rarity to find a bowl that is hitting all the notes, heck, even more than just one. And I do hope PIGMON and trixie-pea share some more insights from their trip to Toronto, as I know they did some incredible damage.

    Another place worth a visit is Anjappar Chettinad, a mega-chain of Chettinad restaurants across the globe with 3 outposts in the GTA - http://www.anjapparcanada.com/. I finally had the chance to visit the Mississauga location earlier this summer and was so thrilled with the experience I'll be dragging my family there constantly to scour the vast menu.

    The parottas are excellent, and I particulalry enjoyed the straight-up plain parotta moreso than the mutton keema stuffed version - unadorned one can fully appreciate the impossible balance of flakiness and pliability they achieve, though the chicken gravy that accompanied the keema parotta was a savoury & slurp-worthy bit.

    mutton kheema parotta
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    plain parotta
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    Chicken Chettinad seemed a requisite order and, while it was plenty tasty, the version of this dish with which I have become most well-acquainted is a totally different beast, much sharper and bolder in flavour - Anjappar's version was almost too integrated, the complexity of spicing muted, and somewhat undistinguished, but still quite delicious.

    chicken Chettinad
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    In stark contrast, the kattharikkai kuzambhu (eggplant curry) was unbelievable - sharp puckering notes of tamarind, a bracing heat and a spectacularly complex and aromatic curry that still haunts my dreams. These curries are incredibly complex, at least to my Paki peasant tastes, and I can't even begin to put my finger on what's going on. And I eat a lot of different cuisines' curries but this one was a marvel I will not soon forget. Even better the next day served with some pongal at home.

    kattharikkai kuzambhu
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    The staff was not Chettinad, so we were sort of on our own to navigate towards those regional specialties, but the waitress seemed determined to steer me towards a dosa so I surrendered. Out came a 4-footer ghee paper dosa that was terrific, particularly the accompaniements (isn't that the point?). There are very few worthwhile dosa joints in Toronto (Guru Lakshmi is another), but I would go back to Anjappar just for a dosa session. Hypothetically, that is. There's just too many damn interesting Chettinad dishes to explore.

    ghee paper dosa
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  • Post #64 - August 3rd, 2012, 6:43 pm
    Post #64 - August 3rd, 2012, 6:43 pm Post #64 - August 3rd, 2012, 6:43 pm
    Pigmon speaks the truth -- Mei Nung puts together as perfect a bowl of niu rou mian as anyone could wish for. There are now quite a few places in and around Chicago offering this dish, and each one that I've tried gets at least one component wrong. Mei Nung shows how it's done.

    One correction that I'd offer: You are not assaulted by the odor of stinky tofu when you enter the restaurant. You are assaulted by the odor of stinky tofu when you enter the parking lot. (If you enjoy this dish, Mei Nung's rendition is a tasty one. But don't miss the main event.)

    And thanks also to tatterdemalion for the Patna Kabab House rec. I'm not sure that the nihari is better that what we can get around here, but this was the first bihari kabab that I truly enjoyed.
  • Post #65 - September 13th, 2012, 6:20 pm
    Post #65 - September 13th, 2012, 6:20 pm Post #65 - September 13th, 2012, 6:20 pm
    We are headed off to Toronto soon. Thanks to this thread, we have lots of great suggestions of where to eat while we are canvasing ethnic neighborhoods. One evening we are looking to do something more in the category of fine dining, for our anniversary, and wondered if anyone has suggestions. Spice Man is not a fan of the long drawn out tastings menus. The farm to plate movement has also never wowed me, as that is pretty much just what I am cooking at home! Looking for something in the line of Everest or David Burke's Primehouse. Ideas?
  • Post #66 - October 24th, 2012, 9:07 pm
    Post #66 - October 24th, 2012, 9:07 pm Post #66 - October 24th, 2012, 9:07 pm
    tatterdemalion wrote:... yesterday I had my first taste of horse at La Palette in Toronto...
    Plenty of reason to make the trip. :D

    Horse Tartare
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    La Palette
    http://www.lapalette.ca/
    492 Queen Street West
    Toronto, ON
    416.929.4900

    I'm loving this entire thread!! We have an upcoming two day trip to Toronto coming up.
    Having never had horse before, the pic has me thinking we'll have to make a trip to La Palette.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #67 - May 9th, 2013, 4:58 pm
    Post #67 - May 9th, 2013, 4:58 pm Post #67 - May 9th, 2013, 4:58 pm
    Just spend a few days in Toronto, and here are some notes on the good and bad.

    Kit Kat Lounge - an old school, Italian joint on King in the Entertainment District. I have a business associate who keeps taking me back to this place, and I need to find a way to stop it. I do not like the area, the food is spotty, the drinks mediocre, the prices too high. Other than that I love it.

    Dumpling House - posted on this in the Toronto Dim Sum thread, but the bottom line is that I liked it.

    Pain Perdu - a basque boulangerie and cafe out at 736 St Clair W. I had met the owner at Kit Kat and decided to give it a try. Not sure how good the duck confit would have been as I decided not to wait, but the Croque Monsieur was dry and expensive for what one gets. The gateau basque and pain au chocolat that I picked up were both quite delightful, however, particularly the gateau. I recommend them heartily. And as I walked along St Clair afterward, it was clear there are a lot of interesting places to eat up there. If I had more time, I would have gladly gone back to explore them.

    High end Toronto dining seems to be caught up in the small plate craze right now, so while I was mostly eating alone (except at Kit Kat, which makes it a double disaster), I ended up hitting two places that were meant for sharing. Somehow I worked through this. Both were relatively new places opened by chefs who had previously been doing a lot more adventurous work.

    I started at the original Origin, 109 King Street East. Started with the Fior de Mozzarella with mushrooms, truffle oil and spinach. It was tasty, and I liked the combination of richness and tartness between the mushrooms, truffles and a nice vinegary touch on the spinach. The sea salt crystals on the mozzarella were nice, but with the truffle oil tended to make the dish a little on the salty side. Unfortunately, I did not find the mozzarella to be great - good, creamy, but not exquisite. Bottom line - spinach and mushrooms good, mozzarella okay, dish a little salty.

    Followed that with the Halibut with clams, bacon vinaigrette, pea puree and grilled spring onions. Now, looking at that description, the one thing you would not expect me to say about this dish is that it was bland, but it was bland. The halibut was an excellent piece of fish, prepared perfectly, the peas were flavorful, the onions pretty tasteless, and the vinaigrette restrained to the point of disappearing. Could have used some salt, some seasoning, something. I will give the chef the benefit of the doubt here and assume the intention was to feature the ingredients, but it needed something.

    Dessert was excellent. Citrus (kalamansi juice and lime zest) curd with little half moons of meringue, coconut and mint. No seasoning needed here and the contrast and balance were great.

    The next night I went to Sussur Lee's current spot - Lee. Sort of a global fusion, small plate spot with some focus on pan-Asian foods. I admit to having real reservations about this, both because of my experience the night before, and because the chef has a food network presence which seems to create problems in my experience (too much success resulting in dumbing down the food, and overwhelming the kitchen). Happy to report that is not what I experienced. Started with the Singaporean Slaw, which they push hard as a specialty. So hard that they offered me a half order (I did not ask), as the normal order is generous for two people. It was a glorious, crispy and complex mound of vegetables topped with crispy onions shavings. I did not deconstruct all the ingredients, but I am pretty sure there was ginger, cabbage, nuts, something red, something blue, something borrowed... Anyway, I loved everything about it except the dressing which was a bit sweet for my taste. Discussed this with the waiter later, suggesting I would have liked it a lot better with some heat, slivered thai chiles for example, and he said I should ask for that next time as they gladly would do it. Okay.

    Next came someone offering bowls of ceviche from their sister restaurant, Bent. It was a Peruvian style, fish, mussels, chiles, kalamansi (apparently a hot ingredient in Toronto that week) juice to cure. Special price and very tasty. Then I moved on to a current food cliche - caramelized black cod with preserves, miso mustard and turnip cake. The turnip cake is why I ordered it - there is something about a good turnip cake that I love. Sweetness in the glaze, richness in the fish (perfectly cooked once again), and zest in the mustard were a perfect balance with the turnip cake grounding it all. Truly wonderful.

    I started with a variation burnt orange manhattan that was okay, nice flavor, good bourbon, but a little on the sweet side, then moved on to some unfiltered Sake that tasted more like alcoholic horchata than anything else, though not quite so sweet. Also excellent.

    Finished with the french and chinese tong yuen which was like dressed up mochi cakes with chocolate and nuts. Tasty enough. Definitely more food than I needed.

    Yes, it does seem like they lean a little more toward the sweet than I usually like, as evidenced by my cocktail and the slaw, but it was a delicious meal and the menu promises more deliciousness. I would definitely go back and even sample the slaw again with some chiles added.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #68 - June 3rd, 2013, 8:03 pm
    Post #68 - June 3rd, 2013, 8:03 pm Post #68 - June 3rd, 2013, 8:03 pm
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    Beautiful Weekend to be here...

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    ...eating and drinking in this world class city

    Toronto was my choice (with her consent) for my recent recreational trip. As time passed flight prices rose sky-high to out of country places we had in mind. So why not Toronto? It's not in America and it's only an 8 hour drive from Chicago. After this trip I'm ready to say it's easily the best place to visit that you can drive to in that time frame. Hell it might be my favorite city to visit in all of North America. There's also the added bonus of Niagara Falls nearby so if you've never been there to see that, this road trip is well worth it. It's got alot of similarities to Chicago down to it's beginnings as the center of the countries Stock Yards. Actually it just passed us in population.

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    Look's familiar...

    Before this trip was decided upon me and friends have had a trip here planned for Summer when Caribbean Carnival aka Caribana kicks off. it's the largest outdoor festival in North America with over a million visitors each year. It's rare for me to be overwhelmed with food options but there was no way I was going to be able to cover what I wanted to eat on three nights in town. That said I still think I did the city justice with this. It's a vibrant multicultural city that cant be covered in one, two or even three trips there. The type of place you look forward to going back to and see what else is going on. Let's do it.

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    Popular Sandwich Shop in Little Italy

    We got into town around lunchtime and decided to check out this trendy area before checking in. Traffic is pretty bad in Toronto but we found it easy to get around in other ways. The Fish Store and YuNes' Sandwiches was a high priority as far as eats go and my hunch was dead on. Fresh fish for sale and grilled sandwiches to-go are what they do. There's a few seats outside but other than that it's small. I went with the Artic Char Sandwich and added on avocado for a bit extra.

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    YuNes' Arctic Char Sandwich

    As tasty as it is pretty. Simplicity wins here. Perfectly grilled Canadian water caught fish with just garlic and herbs served on a soft Portuguese roll by a cute old Asian couple. This eclectic mixture of things became a trend on this trip. After that we strolled over to another spot I wanted to try. I found this BlogTO site to be pretty useful as far as finding locally loved food goes. They cover every last bite. Of course this thread was every bit as helpful and just as lusty.

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    Another popular Sandwich Shop in the neighborhood called Porchetta & Co.

    Porchetta is what they do here. Obviously. Although on our Friday visit they were serving soft shell crab sandwiches which they had on special all weekend. If they were half as good as they looked then I know they were great. As was their signature sandwich. The Housemade porchetta with cracklins' topped with grain mustard and Parmesan cheese served on the perfect roll to hold it all together was memorable to say the least.

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    Their Signature Sandwich is one of the best you'll find anywhere

    Couldn't ask for a better start with that 1-2 punch. We stayed downtown not far from the shopping district which is where you'll find Eaton Centre which was an absolute madhouse on a Friday around 5p. All of downtown Toronto was, it actually made Chicago seem kind of tame. Eaton Centre is one of the prettier damn malls I've ever walked thru. Taking up an entire block it's multi-leveled with a vaulted glass-ceiling galleria thats modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. I believe I read it's the cities largest attraction with one million+ visitors each week.

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    Inside the Eaton Centre

    I had to leave her behind to do her shopping solo while I went and had a beer. Beer Bistro in Toronto was right down the street from our place of rest so that's where I went. Plenty of good cold beer options here as well as some really nice looking bowls of mussels and what many call the best fries in Toronto. They were just ok. Either I've never had real frites or every place I've ever had them at serves them authentically limp. Still good beer food.

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    Beer and Frites at Beer Bistro

    Toronto has a little bit of an Izakaya Scene going on. It seems that most of these places come from other parts of the world. Mainly Japan but also Vancouver which is where Guu is from. They call themselves "the Pioneer of Izakaya" there on the West Coast and have a 2nd outlet in Toronto. It was on or list for Friday night.

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    Guu Izakaya via Vancouver

    We put our name down and were told a 35 minute wait which ended up being well worth it. The atmosphere makes you want to drink and the food is well done and of all the places stopped in at on our trip, it probably had the best bang for your buck value. The entire staff is imported from Japan and it's like having one big happy family welcome you to their home. Everything we ate was great, service was top notch and everyone in there was leaving with a smile on their face. Fantastic place. I can easily see why it's so popular.

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    a peak inside

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    Scallops Wrapped in Bacon and Takoyaki to start off

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    Spicy Negitoro (Chopped BC Tuna w/ Scallion)

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    Grilled Saba Mackerel w/ dill herb, garlic, lemon and onion on sizzling plate

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    Maguro Tataki (Seared BC Tuna Sashimi w/ Ponzu and Garlic Chips)

    Went to a couple other popular izakaya's on this trip so I'll just share them here so they can all be together as one. Izakaya Nejibee has over 30 spots in and around Tokyo with their one location outside of Japan located in Toronto. The subway was pretty easy to navigate and well ran. We used it a few times to get around while in town including our trip here. The place is hidden off a busy street in downtown Toronto.

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    Izakaya Nejibee via Tokyo

    Nice place to start the night, or end it I imagine. It was rather quiet here compared to the scene at Guu the night before but it was earlier in evening. Ice cold Asahi from the tap to start was so fresh and so clean. They have different Teppanyaki style items on the menu including their signature "Keichan-yaki". It's a popular eat in Hida-Takayama, Japan made with diced chicken thigh meat, assorted vegetables and a signature sauce served on a sizzling hot plate. Good drinking food. I almost ordered another round despite being headed elsewhere after that.

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    Keichan-yaki

    Saturday around 1a we stopped into Ryoji in Little Italy post bar for some late night slurping. "The only Okinawan-style Izakya in Toronto. With Okinawa's rich history and slightly different culture from mainland Japan, Ryoji offers traditional and inventive Okinawan cuisines and Ramens." This is the first location outside of Japan. There's five others in Okinawa.

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    Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya via Okinawa

    Large space with indoor, outdoor and bar/grill seating available. Our bartender was an engaging guy saying "bet you never expected to find a black bartender at a Japanese bar in an Italian neighborhood in Canada?" but as I said earlier this was a recurring role. Almost 49% of Toronto's population was born outside of Canada. Tonkatsu Ramen is their most popular item and a good way to end a night of drinking. I've never been asked "How would you like your noodles done" when eating ramen before and that was a good start to everything about the bowl with the exception of the meat itself which was too tough.

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    Tonkotsu Ramen

    I spied this place below that was flooded with cabs, some double parked to grab food to go, while waiting outside at Guu Izakaya and went inside to try a samosa as an appetizer.

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    Popular Cabbie Stop

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    Had to pass on steam table options but fried to order curry chicken Samosa was good

    We made it to a few places as far as drinks go with SpiritHouse being one of the fun ones for crafted cocktails. Yep they've made their way up into Canada, eh. Not cheap, but what places are? Even beer is expensive up there. That said SpiritHouse pour some very good drinks.

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    Inside Spirithouse for Cocktails

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    Strolling around town

    Saturday Morning was going to be spent at the St. Lawrence Market. This is the day to be there and it was just a 10 minute walk from our hotel so this one one of the things I had on my "must visit" list. I'll just reiterate what everyone else says, why dont we (Chicago) have anything like it? Only answer I can give is that there's not many places in North America that have something similar. What a spot.

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    St. Lawrence Market

    The Market is open Tues, Wed, Thurs and Fri from 8a to 7p. On Saturdays it's open from 5a to 5p and gets full use with a farmers market and the entire south part of the market open for business. "Pictures say 1000 words" is the old saying so I put a little collage together. It can do most of the talking. I'll just add it's an amazing place on Saturday's.

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    It was almost torture not being able to buy much since I had no time to cook any of it. They pretty much have any and everything covered as far as food goes. Every last inch of Toronto's oldest market which has been greatly expanded was covered with vendors. I had an excellent wood fired bagel from St. Urbain to start the day. This is just one of many places cooking food to order inside. I also got some stone crab claws for a $1/each off some kid selling them alongside one of the fish vendors permanent stands and tried plenty of samples from other sites inside. The other item I was going to have to give try was Toronto's signature sandwich.

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    Which one is it gonna be?

    The peameal bacon sandwich might be Toronto's most iconic food offering. In a metropolis filled with delicacies from all over the globe, this is an eat people from the city can call their own. Nothing fancy here, it's very straightforward in fact. Just thick cut slices of peameal bacon on a fresh baked Kaiser Roll. What's Peameal? "The name reflects the historic practice of rolling the cured and trimmed boneless loin in dried and ground yellow peas, originally for preservation reasons." St. Lawrence Market has two places that serve a popular version of this. I chose Carousel Bakery over Paddington's Pump.

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    Peameal Sandwich from Carousel Bakery

    The bacon itself was really good as was the bun. So obviously so was the sandwich but if they added an egg and some cheese you got a world class breakfast sandwich to be had here but you cant wish ill-will towards those that dont want to mess with tradition.

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    Street Performer outside St. Lawrence Market

    Toronto's other signature eat might be Roti. Not from there but popular around different parts of the globe which made its way there with the people that eat it. It's a south Asian bread made with stone-ground wholemeal flour consumed in places like Pakistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka as well as South Africa and the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago in particular. Toronto has all sorts of variations of these on offer. I decided to wait on the Caribbean roti's which should be abundant during Carnival while trying a popular place for East Indian style ones instead.

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    Eastern Indian Style Roti Shop on Queen Street West

    I read this is one of the cities best places for Roti of any kind so had to give them a try. They were making the roti fresh in the hot stove before filling it with any of their wide variety of options. I chose a butter chicken with some mango chutney on the side. Similar to burrittos although this roti wasn't eatable by hand. I was fine with that as it was excellent. Nothing like it here in Chicago that I know of so I may have to go back when I return.

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    Butter Chicken Roti from Gandhi

    My favorite neighborhood on this trip is another popular marketplace that has a multicultural community within it. The entire area of Kensington Market is a National Historic Site in Canada. It's a unique blend of specialty food shops, bars, restaurants and homes where many people from all walks of life in in Toronto descend upon, especially on the weekends when it's nice out. That it was on my strolls thru the area which I visited 3 of the 4 days we were in town. Let's have a look around.

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    Kensington Market

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    Some sights from the neighborhood

    Just like St. Lawrence does, Kensington gives shoppers the luxury of a wide range of cooking needs all within a one stop reach. But here they're open for business seven days a week. It's not centered on food though you will find plenty of options for that. It's Chicago's Belmont and Clark mixed with Logan Square, Hyde Park and Maxwell Street Market and whatever summer street festival is going on all rolled into one. Tons of specialty stores ranging from clothes to music with most every bar and restaurant offering outdoor seating in the middle of all of it. If you're looking to step away from the chaos you can check out the world famous Hot Box where $5 gets you a non-alcoholic drink and access inside where theres pool tables, board games and a nice outdoor space out back to make all those things more enjoyable.

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    I'll be right back...

    I stopped in for research to see what was up. "We do not sell Marijuana" greets you a few times upon entry. But they do have papers, pipes etc. After you give them the fee you're free to play Hungry Hippos, shoot some pool or do whatever it is you do out back. What I walked into was a scene similar to the rest of Toronto. A few young Asian ladies speaking in native tongue followed with some hipsters seated next to a group of well dressed 40 something doctor looking yuppies with a Jamaican crew blowing big ones in back. No violence or tension whatsoever but there were quite a few blank stares. So uh yeah, you know where to roll. My bottle of Ting was as refreshing as ever. As far as crack dens go? I dont know, you'll have to ask the Mayor where to find those.

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    ...who's hungry?

    Toronto is the North American hub for Caribbean people so there's no shortage of snacks from the islands. Mentioned upthread and also on BlogTO's "Best Patty list" I took note that the Patty King had a location in the Kensington neighborhood. Ever since my first (of many) trips to Jamaica I've had more than one love, beef patties included. This is a Asian-Caribbean owned bakery putting out some top notch patties and a common street food in Trinidad & Tobago called Doubles. They're sandwiches made with fried flat bread with curried chick peas in between. Chutney toppings vary.

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    Jamaican Beef Patty and a Trinidadian Double from Patty King

    JeffB wrote:Any good Mexican?


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    Yep!

    While walking around one of the days I got a whiff of some really great smells coming from a small walk in space with lots of people around it. Upon stronger smells I realized it was a taqueria which goes by Seven Lives Tacos y Mariscos. With the smell too much to pass up we got a spot in line.

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    Inside Seven Lives Tacos

    The people who opened up this popular place came from San Diego so the tacos are reflective of the offerings you'd find there. Both the blackened mahi-mahi and their signature Gobernador were excellent. The latter coming with smoked marlin, shrimp and cheese. At $5 each they weren't cheap but were stuffed as far as fish and shrimp goes. Really good.

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    Blackened Mahi-Mahi and a "Gobernador" Taco

    One of our days walking around we decided to sit-down on the patio at Amadeus which is a Portuguese restaurant around the action. Sausage was good but expensive as were the mussels and sangria. This is one of the few places I'd probable have little interest in going back to but would be down to drink on the deck.

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    Outdoor Lounging/Dining at the Market

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    Sangria and Mussels in the sun at Amadeu's

    Aside from Guu we had two other dinners planned and unfortunately I forgot my camera in a rush to make our reservation at Enoteca Sociale in the West End. So those of you with the attention span to read this report take note, the place is f'ing amazing. Nothing fancy just simple Roman cooking with the best possible ingredients. Amazing pastas and perfectly paired drinks. Rodney's Oyster House is the 2nd location from a Vancouver original. If you're in love with bi-valves like I am this is a great stop. Wonderful selection from both coasts and plenty of freshly grated horseradish and strong martinis to boot.

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    The bar at Rodney's Oyster House

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    a pretty plate of slurpers served

    On our last day before heading to the Falls we spent the morning and early afternoon walking around the Spadina avenue Chinatown (there's four total in town) and just like every other market and mall we went too on this trip it was pretty impressive.

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    Spadina Avenue Chinatown

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    Dumpling House

    I love me some dumplings and had seen the Dumpling House mentioned upthread amongst other places and decided to walk in for breakfast which ended up being perfect. An order of the pork ones fried and the pork and cabbage steamed were around $10 and normally would of been more than enough for two people but these were really hitting the spot and as good as any I've had in some time. Particularly the fried ones.

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    Handmade Dumplings - Steamed Pork and Cabbage

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    Fried Pork Dumplings

    Final activity was to take the drive around thru some different neighborhoods we hadn't seen since my car was left with the hotel valet for most of the stay. As I did this I was left with wanting more and excited about the prospect of coming back. Added bonus while doing that I also managed to squeeze out a couple spots I'd had on my hit list.

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    Rolling thru the neighborhoods

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    The Original Mr. Jerk in Cabbagetown

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    1/4 Jerk Chicken Dinner w/ Cole Slaw and Rice & Pea's with Gravy

    Fantastic 1-2 Punch to end my trip. Mr. Jerk is a popular place with several outlets outside of the original I visited. The chicken might of been a tad bit dry from sitting in the warmer but it was authentic with hints of smoke and a really nice paste on top of the gravy they lace over the rice. Some of the better stuff I've had outside of the island served by a sweet Chinese-Jamaican lady.

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    Pizza Pide in East End of Toronto

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    Turkish Pizza from Pizza Pide

    I've never been to Turkey but now love me some Turkish style pizza courtesy of Pizza Pide. Fantastic! I got the Turkish sausage with cheese after a long contemplation of some excellent looking offerings. It was enough to feed two ($10) which worked great because the leftovers were better than anything I was eating in Niagara Falls later that evening. All the side toppings of parsley, onions, lemons etc and the bread itself was something I want now But I know I cant get any until I return to one of the great melting pots in all of the world. Toronto, if you didn't know, you need to go.

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    Hope you enjoyed the ride...see ya next time

    The Fish Store & YuNes' Sandwiches
    657 College St
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-533-2822

    Porchetta & Co.
    825 Dundas St W
    Toronto, ON
    +1 647-352-6611

    Beer Bistro
    18 King St E
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-861-9872

    Guu Izakaya
    559 Bloor St W
    Toronto, ON
    +1 647-343-1101

    Izakaya Nejibee
    24 Welesely Street W
    Toronto, ON
    +1 647-748-2882

    Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya
    692 College Street Unit 690
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-533-8083

    Mehran Restaurant
    398 Church
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-596-6434

    SpiritHouse
    487 Adelaide St W
    Toronto, ON
    +1 647-277-1187

    St. Lawrence Market
    95 Front St E
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-392-7120

    Gandhi Indian Cuisine
    554 Queen St W
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-504-8155

    Patty King
    187 Baldwin St
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-977-3191

    Seven Lives
    69 Kensington Avenue
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-803-1086

    Amadeu's Restaurant
    14 Duncan
    Toronto, ON
    +1 647-260-4156

    Enoteca Sociale
    1288 Dundas St W
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-534-1200

    Rodney's Oyster House
    469 King St W
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-363-8105

    Dumpling House
    328 Spadina Ave
    Toronto, ON M5T 2E7, Canada
    +1 416-596-8898

    Mr. Jerk
    209 Wellesley St E
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-961-8913

    Pizza Pide
    949 Gerrard St E
    Toronto, ON
    +1 416-462-9666
  • Post #69 - June 4th, 2013, 9:07 am
    Post #69 - June 4th, 2013, 9:07 am Post #69 - June 4th, 2013, 9:07 am
    Awesome stuff, Da Beef. Slightly off-topic -- where did you stay?
    -Mary
  • Post #70 - June 4th, 2013, 9:42 am
    Post #70 - June 4th, 2013, 9:42 am Post #70 - June 4th, 2013, 9:42 am
    Ahhh, Beef, you've done it again! A mighty feat of endurance, perseverance, and appetite. And, obviously, an enormously well-researched plan of attack. Let me know when you come to Montréal--I'll probably learn something about my town from you!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #71 - June 6th, 2013, 7:20 pm
    Post #71 - June 6th, 2013, 7:20 pm Post #71 - June 6th, 2013, 7:20 pm
    The GP wrote:Awesome stuff, Da Beef. Slightly off-topic -- where did you stay?


    Thanks. One King West was our place of residence this trip. No major complaints from me.

    Geo wrote:Ahhh, Beef, you've done it again! A mighty feat of endurance, perseverance, and appetite. And, obviously, an enormously well-researched plan of attack. Let me know when you come to Montréal--I'll probably learn something about my town from you!

    Geo


    Merci sir. I really need to get back to Montreal. Last trip there was in my middle 20's and I really liked it but was more into the wonderful dancing scene there than its food. Of course that was back then so when the time to return comes around I'll be hoping you are too.
  • Post #72 - October 29th, 2014, 12:35 pm
    Post #72 - October 29th, 2014, 12:35 pm Post #72 - October 29th, 2014, 12:35 pm
    Da Beef wrote: Toronto has a little bit of an Izakaya Scene going on. It seems that most of these places come from other parts of the world. Mainly Japan but also Vancouver which is where Guu is from. They call themselves "the Pioneer of Izakaya" there on the West Coast and have a 2nd outlet in Toronto. It was on or list for Friday night.

    Image
    Guu Izakaya via Vancouver

    We put our name down and were told a 35 minute wait which ended up being well worth it. The atmosphere makes you want to drink and the food is well done and of all the places stopped in at on our trip, it probably had the best bang for your buck value. The entire staff is imported from Japan and it's like having one big happy family welcome you to their home. Everything we ate was great, service was top notch and everyone in there was leaving with a smile on their face. Fantastic place. I can easily see why it's so popular.

    Image
    a peak inside

    Image Image
    Scallops Wrapped in Bacon and Takoyaki to start off

    Image
    Spicy Negitoro (Chopped BC Tuna w/ Scallion)

    Image
    Grilled Saba Mackerel w/ dill herb, garlic, lemon and onion on sizzling plate

    Image
    Maguro Tataki (Seared BC Tuna Sashimi w/ Ponzu and Garlic Chips)


    I've had some work in Toronto and was interested to try the Guu-empire izakayas and ramen shops. I was able to have lunch and dinner at the original Toronto Guu and the nearby Guu Saka Bar, which bills itself as a bit more refined but seemed identical - loud, Japanese rustic "gastro-pub" - except for the menus. The menus are also very similar, with some overlap, but they have enough different signature items that it's probably worth trying both places if you have the time. Kind of like some of Sotikiff's very similar, but different enough to make it count spots.

    The two places reminded me why Japanese food, more so than any major cuisine, remains largely an approximation, a theme, a riff on some ideal in Chicago city limits with a few limited exceptions (Sunshine, Katsu, and RIP Ginza and the original Matsuya). No matter how good the food is, Japanese in Chicago is like Mexican in London or NY. Guu hails from Vancouver, that most Asian of North American towns (even compared to Toronto, which has seen a huge influx of Chinese and other immigration), but the place is Japanese - so much so that few of the staff, all youngsters from Japan, speak much English at all. Anyway, it was the menu and the preparations that might stike you as quirky, brave, counterintuitive, weird (to a Westerner with notions of Japanese food molded by US/California sushi culture). A ton of mayo and cheese, for example. We know the Japanese love their Kewpie, but these menus are stuffed with kaki-mayo, kani-mayo, whatever-mayo. Massive pacific oysters in a less-healthy take on Rockefeller (hard to believe but true), laden with a ton of mayo, cheese and a little chopped spinach, are a mainstay. Another crowd favorite that the menu consultant might not think would work: salmon natto yukke - sort of a loose tartare with equal parts natto, diced salmon, toasted garlic, raw onions, cucumber, scallions, Japanese pickles and daikon. The server helpfully mixes, whips and froths the plate into a stringy, foamy slime that looks (and smells)more like vomit than anything I've eaten before. Delicious. But the best thing I ate at Guu, the Saka Bar in particular, was also the simplest and most traditional - a box pressed, Osaka-style saba oshizushi. I.e., battera, a very old-fashioned sushi style, with Portuguese etymology, made from one long, very fine, filet of mackerel. The only flare added was a quick once-over the skin with a torch, which is an obvious but brilliant touch, adding the crisp skin of saba no shio yaki to the square sushi.

    Not all is great at Guu, however. I ordered a side of rice for my natto slop, and received a bad Chinese takeout grade steamed mess. No seasoning at all, and a far cry from the sushi rice. The draft beer at Guu was less than teeth numbingly cold (a first for me among Japanese drafts at such spots) and worse, the beer tasted of a dirty line. The Saka beer was much better. Also good was the sochu and grapefruit I ordered. Forget fresh juice, just give me a grapefruit and my own juicer. Put me in the mind of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

    Image
  • Post #73 - October 29th, 2014, 1:12 pm
    Post #73 - October 29th, 2014, 1:12 pm Post #73 - October 29th, 2014, 1:12 pm
    PS, I might mention I tried a well-regarded "fancy" dim sum spot in Mississauga partonized almost entirely by Chinese and Taiwanese travellers. I think I might now have a good feel for what an expensive but mediocre-at-best tourist restaurant might be like in Taipei or Shanghai. Also took out from one of the many poutineries that seem a lot like the Lakeview grilled cheese places: slightly elevated junk food aimed at drunk kids. Like a Horseshoe or Hot Brown, poutine can only be so good in its orthodox form, and it was OK. Chicago could aspire to poutine greatness, what with our proximity to fresh curds and great fast-food fry culture.
  • Post #74 - December 31st, 2014, 12:02 pm
    Post #74 - December 31st, 2014, 12:02 pm Post #74 - December 31st, 2014, 12:02 pm
    Half of my in-laws live in Toronto, so I make it up there every few years for the holidays. As much as it hurts knowing what kind of vittles lie around every street corner, family time means going with the flow. So I haven't really explored Toronto the way I know best. I can always count on a few mornings for surgical striking, however, and this thread contains some jewels of wisdom that I carefully cherry-picked. And we had wheels on this trip, so the outlying good stuff was in sight.

    Unfortunately, stop #1 was kind of a bust. I'm in love with niu rou mian, but have a very narrow set of experiences with the stuff relegated to well, Katy's and a favorite stop in Manhattan's Chinatown. I love these bowls, but have a hunch they are not platonic ideals of the form. So you bet we were going to high tail it up the 404 to suburban Markham to check out Mei Nung Beef Noodle House for some OG Taiwanese love as PIGMON eloquently recounted above. Shoulda checked the Yelp, they were closed on Tuesdays. Fortunately they reside in a strip mall jammed packed with Korean stew houses, Vietnamese pan-Asian joints, and another soup noodle place called Kai Feng Fu Noodle House, which was packed, so we figured it couldn't be all that bad. And it wasn't, we ordered the house spicy beef noodle, mine with thin noodle, hers with wide. Noodles were nice, softer than what I know, but not soggy. The thin broth left something to be desired, its main character lent by a generous hand with the chile oil. I wished I'd ordered the brisket noodle, witnessing big ol beefy chunks bobbing in our neighbors bowls. Ours had a paltry scattering of tender-enough beef shards. I was a bit taken aback by the presence of fried tofu cubes and sliced shitakes, which may or may not be authentic, but I found distracting. Not bad, but not the transcendence we sought.

    We were redeemed by stop #2 on our way out of town. Maybe it was the relief of escaping a bout of holiday family fisticuffs, but this quite probably was my favorite meal of the year. A Pakistani Christmas lunch at Bar B Q Tonite. We actually pulled up and thought the place was closed (which would have been consistent with our luck on this trip). The lights did not appear to be on and the parking lot was comically littered with kitchen equipment parts and other refuse. There were cars in the lot, so I peaked in and was waved into the restaurant by a friendly young man. The interior was not as shabby or cluttered as the lot, though the lights were off. We were the first to be seated, but the place started bustling quickly, both take out and sit down biz. I ordered what looked interesting upthread.

    Bihari kebab (in the foreground)

    Image

    Extremely tender, loosely packed strips of beef with outrageous char. The welcomingly descriptive menu cross-referenced tatterdemalion's post above, explaining that the meat is marinated in papaya, which explains the enzyme- enabled tenderness of the beef. I loved this, though its flavor profile was over shadowed by the next two dishes.

    Reshmi kebab

    Image

    This was the best kebab I've ever eaten. Succulent, smoky, with a heady wallop from aromatic spices. Holy crap.

    Nihari

    Image

    I haven't eaten too many renditions of this, but this was one of the best meat curries I've ever had, period. The gravy seemed to be pure bone marrow, all gelatin and spiced fat. I was picking coarsely ground spices out of my teeth the entire ride back to Chicago, which is a testament to the scratchness of their cooking. Beef chunks, spoon tender. Love the matchstick ginger and deep fried green chile garnishes. My wife actually liked this better than the kebabs, which is insane, because there's nothing she loves more than Pakistani grilled meats.

    Roti

    Image

    Great and charred in spots but not as perfect as:

    Garlic naan

    Image

    Which was ideal.

    I tried to snap a few pics for tatterdemalion of the action behind the smoke- filled glass box, but they had turned the lights on by the time we left, so they are a bit glare-y.

    Image

    Tandoor:

    Image

    I've thought about this meal every day since I ate it a week ago. I need to figure out how to have more of this in my life.

    I should mention how sweet the service was. I told one server that this meal made my Christmas and he replied that I had just made his.

    Kai Feng Fu Noodle House
    3229 Highway 7, Markham, ON L6G 0A5, Canada
    +1 905-604-6980

    Bar B Q Tonite
    35 Dundas Street West, Mississauga, ON L5B, Canada
    +1 905-268-0088
  • Post #75 - January 6th, 2015, 8:18 pm
    Post #75 - January 6th, 2015, 8:18 pm Post #75 - January 6th, 2015, 8:18 pm
    Jefe, I was also up there that same week and wish I could've ripped some naan with you at BBQT ! Thanks for sharing your experience which sounds predictably Paki perplexing from your entrance. I've been in there a few times where it is entirely unclear if the place is open for business or is being demolished. Really pleased to hear it pleased and, based on your always colourful commentary, it sounds like they were on. Like good ol' American bbq, I find some of these Pakistani bbq joints wildly inconsistent from meal to meal - you just never know which way the smoke's blowing (oftentimes up yours!). OEE PIGMON often says a key differentiator from Chicago is the quality of bread, and that naan sure does look good.

    I had planned to make a trip there myself, however, my old man talked me into checking out another place he has come to prefer recently -- Cafe de Khan. CdK goes back to 1952 Karachi (check out the pics) and recently closed its doors in 2004. There are currently two outposts in Mississauga but they're soon to consolidate to the larger Millcreek location. In any case, I would like to track down the Rene G of Karachi (Rana G?) to sleuth out the story as these recipes that allegedly go way back are quite distinctive. Peshawari kebabs were ordered chicken and came smothered in salan that was different from your typical brown gravy. We couldn't quite put our finger on what it was, possibly the tang of tomatoes (or ketchup!), and most certainly a good hit of capsicum. Same goes for the matka gosht (essentially claypot mutton curry), proclaimed another house specialty by the server (who would not reveal trade secrets) -- uniquely complex spicing that we all found scrumptious. I wish my sister's mother-in-law hadn't grabbed the only shank in there. Bihari kebab had a slightly over-marinated texture to my tastes, but had some nice smoke and char to it. They do seem to have a good hand with the fire as the chicken tikka leg would indicate, and they were certainly proud enough about it to not serve any fixins alongside unless requested. Do order the tandoori paratha, in addition to the naan, it is an excellent bread, one I wish I snapped a pic of instead of the greazy fried paratha which made any poori taste like the gobi desert.

    Let's coordinate the next trip !

    peshawari kebab
    peshawari kebab.jpg


    matka gosht
    matka gosht.jpg


    bihari kebab
    bihari.jpg


    chicken tikka legs
    chicken legs.jpg


    fried paratha
    fried paratha.jpg


    Cafe de Khan
    812 Brittania Road West, Mississaga, ON (905.817.1881)
    and - 6400 Millcreek Drive, Mississauga, ON (905.817.KHAN)
  • Post #76 - November 4th, 2015, 12:07 pm
    Post #76 - November 4th, 2015, 12:07 pm Post #76 - November 4th, 2015, 12:07 pm
    Alas, can not go as far as Vancouver or Montreal, but spending a few days in Toronto. Any 'not to miss' places to eat or special cuisine unique to Toronto? Prefer budget minded suggestions if possible. Any help will be most appreciated. Thank you.
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #77 - November 4th, 2015, 5:11 pm
    Post #77 - November 4th, 2015, 5:11 pm Post #77 - November 4th, 2015, 5:11 pm
    Elfin wrote:Alas, can not go as far as Vancouver or Montreal, but spending a few days in Toronto. Any 'not to miss' places to eat or special cuisine unique to Toronto? Prefer budget minded suggestions if possible. Any help will be most appreciated. Thank you.



    Back when I was at St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto in the late 70s, there was a drug store on Bloor St. that served a great breakfast for $0.99. Unfortunately, it is gone.

    If I was in Toronto and wanted to eat on the cheap, I would head to the two major markets. St. Lawrence Market has been covered on this board quite a lot. It has about 60-70 stalls and you can get some great food. Also, if you head down Spadina from Bloor St., you will find a market just west of Spadina where you will find a lot of Jamaican and other Caribbean shops among others. Continue further down Spadina toward Queen and you will find a lot of Chinese food, including a number of bakeries.

    Do remember that currently the US dollar is very strong. In general, The Canadian dollar is closely tied to the price of a barrel of oil. Being that oil prices are near record lows, you will be exchange rates that you haven't seen since the late 80s.
  • Post #78 - November 5th, 2015, 11:00 am
    Post #78 - November 5th, 2015, 11:00 am Post #78 - November 5th, 2015, 11:00 am
    Just walk around the block enclosed by Baldwin Street and Elm Street. You'll find lots to enjoy. Unfortunately, the Chinese bakery has apparently closed.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #79 - April 20th, 2017, 10:56 pm
    Post #79 - April 20th, 2017, 10:56 pm Post #79 - April 20th, 2017, 10:56 pm
    So what's new or worthwhile in our neighbor to the north? Taking a trip to Toronto and Montreal in a couple of months, but food destinations in the former seem less obvious than in the latter.
  • Post #80 - April 21st, 2017, 6:33 am
    Post #80 - April 21st, 2017, 6:33 am Post #80 - April 21st, 2017, 6:33 am
    Vitesse98 wrote:So what's new or worthwhile in our neighbor to the north? Taking a trip to Toronto and Montreal in a couple of months, but food destinations in the former seem less obvious than in the latter.

    Toronto has a great Chinatown: Swatow, Rol San, Mother's Dumplings, just to name a few.

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