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Category: Toronto Page 1 of 3

Wanda’s Pie in the sky

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My last treat in Toronto would be some pie and another trip to Kensington market. When thinking of how I wanted to end this excursion with a few hours to boarding, there was no other place I wanted to be. You never get enough snacks on a plane ride, even if it’s unlimited cookies and pretzels for a five hour flight. So stocking my belly full of pie that can be both a meal and a dessert, seemed like the obvious and smart choice here.

The building was hard to miss with its all yellow exterior, green trim with matching awning, and its name in scripted blue. And if you miss that, the patio with blue and yellow chairs and the light up plastic soft serve cone sure won’t be missed.

Inside it was just as rich in colour with art both edible and ornamental. The latter was by local artists for sale, on display. There was so much more colouring in the desserts and pastries behind glass, and even the cups used at their self serve water display were in a rainbow.

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When looking to purchase, I was tempted by one of their ornate sugar cookies: giant cyclopses in dress, animated panda bears, neon butterflies, calico cats, princess crowns, skulls with crossed bones, and even a head strong rhinoceros; this was a miscellaneous bunch of biscuits with a punk rock feel. But I came here for the pie, so had to by pass it all. Pie is what the cafe’s name suggests, and pie is what I was going to stick to.

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The triple long showcase was packed with single and share sized pies, in 6, 8, and 9 inches. Out the outside glass, in front of each kind was a label. On this label was their logo and the flavour of the pie in sharpie. The logo, a stick figured women in a yellow dress, with arms thrown back, she seems to be dancing on a red filling pie. They had fruit filled pies in cherry apricot, lemon meringue, wild blueberry, raspberry or strawberry with rhubarb, and peach praline. And pies in nut, cream, and custard; like chocolate pecan, peanut butter mousse, and coconut and banana cream.

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With the clerk’s recommendation for my question of “which is their best pie”, I ended up with their award winning cherry. They warmed it up and the buttery, crumbly crust paired perfectly with the tart cherry and its sweet jelly. I could see why this one won.

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Desserts went on and on with all sort of flavours of cakes, tarts, cheesecakes, squares, and cookies. They also had muffins and croissants with vegan and gluten free solutions. It was hard to decide on which or what to get, with all the viable choices on display in front of you. And there is much more available if you ordered with them a day in advance.

And if you are looking for a little more substance they also offer lunch with soup and sandwiches, pizza, perogies, and quiches. With daily specials like Mac and cheese and their signature enchilada pie.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was a cozy spot for some comfort food. A neat cafe to meet up at, as unique as the area it was in. I would return on occasion if this were part of my neighbourhood in Vancouver. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PIE IN THE SKY
287 Augusta Avenue, Toronto ON, M5T 2M2
416-236-7585
wandaspieinthesky.com
Wanda's Pie In The Sky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saku Sushi

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At this point during my trip to Toronto, I wanted sushi. My body felt like it needed something light and fresh to combat all the decant treats I have been sampling up to now. I have been over eating and truthfully, none of it was all that good for me. Today the sushi below would fill and satisfy in a way burgers and fries just couldn’t. Plus, you know you are missing Vancouver when you are craving sushi. I heard that our sushi scene can’t be beat so wanted to see how Toronto stacked up.

The doors were open and I was first one in at 11:25am, but they weren’t actually ready to serve until 11:30am. However I was allowed to sit and wait the five minutes inside.

The music was already playing and with the base and electronic beats, and the drink bar lit in neon purple, the restaurant felt more like a dance club this afternoon.

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The space was a narrow with seating across two sections, a step up separated both. I sat right in front, across from the bar and below a several panelled painting of speckled koi, hanging on the wall. Other than the iron statues of fish at swim and an urn of wheat, there really wasn’t much decoration. The space was concrete blocks, tiled ceilings, and a hard wood floor, with faux leather booths. Simple and clean, unlike the more detailed menu.

The sushi menu was the standard fusion offerings, as is commonplace in Vancouver. It offered traditional Japanese fish on rice, alongside deep fried rolls stuffed to the brim and topped with mounds.

I was weary of what to order given the pricing. There weren’t any $5.95 combos to try, like we had in Vancouver’s sushi scene. And the lists of a la carte seemed too complicated to navigate.

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So I went for their “deal” of a lunch special that still cost me $18 total. For the price asked I was expecting something more ornate than this Chef’s selection of 10 pc sashimi and 6 pieces of dynamite roll or spicy salmon roll. Although it was still much affordable than picking and choosing a la carte, especially for all that I got and got to try. I went for he spicy tuna roll and it came with a side of miso soup and a green salad that I did not touch. The quality was good, the fish was fresh. Everything tasted as I expected, and it was all no different than what I have had on the West coast with all its water.

But it was here that I realized we are spoiled in Vancouver. With sushi shops as common as Starbucks cafes around every corner, the prices are low and the product is fresh. Therefore I can not bear to return or have more sushi in Toronto, when I can get the same quality, if not better at half the cost in Vancouver.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would recommend the place to someone in town, as they aren’t too many sushi options in the city, and this one was good. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SAKU
478 Queen Street West, Toronto ON, M5V 2B4
416-368-7258
sakutoronto.com
Saku Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Delysees

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Originally, I stopped by just as they were opening, and as a result, I didn’t get a chance to admire the extent of their full baked goods selection. I was recommend to come back in the afternoon when they got a chance to get it all out, and so I did. I wanted the full experience of this well known bakery specializing in eclairs, on my last day in Toronto.

The modern looking bakery was a beige square block with its name and designation outlined in red. There was a patio out front shielded from the sidewalk by a wooden barrier. Behind it the gate protected several two tops of white tables and chairs, each set with some potted greenery.

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Inside, the sun poured trough their glass shop front. There was plenty of space between counter and the row of seating on the left. Chrome metal chairs and laminated table tops awaited those who choose to dine in. The walls were decorated with framed photos of green countryside, with some more greenery under cloched glass. In a similar fashion the light above the service counter too was encased in glass.

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But truth be told, you weren’t in looking at what decorated the walls, when you could be looking at what was behind their sneeze proof glass.

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There were showcases dedicated to what was freshly baked on the morning of. Loaves of savoury rounds, and lengths of crusty bread, flaky buttered pastries, and chocolate filled and almond topped croissants.

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And if you were looking for something more hearty they had sandwiches that could fit in the palm of your hand. Ham and cucumber with Brie, blt’s, feta with black olives, and salmon and cream cheese; to name a few.

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But really if you are at a bakery, like me, you are here for their delectable sweets. Like their refrigerating units with whole cakes at the ready, and chocolate ice cream bars and giant macaron ice cream sandwiches to go.

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Adjacent was their chocolate display of in house made chocolate hearts. One biters enrobed in red, and splashed with colour. Although as ornate as they looked, they were actually familiar dark, milk, and caramel chocolates. The shop did venture into more creative territory with the coconut and the strawberry vanilla filled chocolate gems.

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The themed showcases continued with one dedicated to miniature cream puffs and single serving cakes. Perfectly decorated desserts with glossy surfaces and fresh glazed fruit. The “lemon meringue” had each of its peaks slightly browned, you could see the light reflected off the varnish of the “chocolate raspberry pillow”, and the “tiramisu mousse eclipse” with its orange surface and pink polka dot heart catches the eye.

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But I was here for their most famous eclairs, I have never seen a place with a more extensive collection of them. An “éclair” is an oblong pastry made with choux dough, filled with cream, and topped with icing. But these were not your regular chocolate topped and white cream filled pastries. These were painted in bold colours, with the fillings to match. The roasted pistachio was a bright green topped with the crushed green nut, the salted caramel had broken pieces of caramel bark topping it, the raspberry was red with a single of its namesake fruit balancing on top, the “coconut cream” looked like a winter wonderland, the mint mojito was tye-dyed in shades of green and blue, and the London fog spelled out its intention on a white chocolate plate.

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These are so popular that they are available to take home in gift boxes designed to keep each lengthy pastry in place, as you travel from here to home. Looking at an example above the counter, it was hard not to want a box to go yourself. But my day was just beginning and I didn’t want to have to carry such a fragile dessert around with me in the sun. Instead I opted for two to enjoy in house.

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I went for a “pure matcha” eclair for the love of the flavour and the vibrancy of its colour. The name did not disappoint. The pastry was light and spongy, and filled to the brim with solid matcha paste. This is a great choice for those that don’t like their eclairs too sweet. They were served chilled to keep them from melting, but I think they would have been nice warmer, at least it would have made the dough softer and the filling creamier.

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And I had to get one of the gold eclairs, as it was the reason why I came in the first place. Never mind what flavour, where else do you find your dessert gilded in a metallic gold paint like this? The “gold gianduja” was chocolate and hazelnut. I found it most satisfying to cut into this one. It was soothing how the shell just cracked, like the sugar on creme burlee. The flavour was rich with nut and dark chocolate, very similar in intensity and texture as the matcha above. Now only if they had some gold macarons to match.

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I eyed the macaron showcases as well deciding on what flavours I should get. Creme burlee, simply lime, blueberry butter creme, double raspberry butter creme, espresso chocolate, hazelnut chocolate, and 60% chocolate; to name a few. They also had some fun ones with extra embellishments and dual colours. The strawberry cheesecake looked more like it would be cotton candy with its pink and blue shells. The strawberry cheesecake would have been more appropriately coloured dark and light pink, like the litchi raspberry. The chocolate and vanilla birthday cake came in red and blue, with sprinkles in its filling. And the chai latte creme looked delicious in its half yellow and brown shells.

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I grabbed a “Salted caramel” and two “Madagascar vanilla” to take back to Vancouver, for my partner. Those are his favourite flavours, and truthfully he is a bigger macaron enthusiasts as I am. He liked the flavour alright, but by the time I, and they arrived, they weren’t all that fresh. And it wasn’t because of the packaging, they travelled well across the country in their six pack box with plastic separator.

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Not being able to decide on which ones I, myself wanted; I ended up being able to take away some of their special macarons, after noticing a box of them on the counter. These were their doughnut macarons, and they are only available on weekends, but they had some leftover from last weekend and were willing to let me have them at regular cost. (I may have mentioned I was travelling from Vancouver, knowing I wouldn’t get the chance to return anytime soon). These were regular macarons, but the novelty is that the top shell is shaped and decorated like a doughnut, hole and all.

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Vanilla, red velvet, and strawberry. They were kept frozen in the back, so they looked good and tasted good, but sadly the texture wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked. I knew this would be the case when I ordered and paid for them. But at least I can now say that I have had doughnut macarons.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I wished this authentic French bakery was in my backyard, in Vancouver. There was so much I wanted to try and so much more i didn’t get a chance to blog about. You keep coming back for their rotating line up and seasonal flavours, and they keep you discovering something new on each visit. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DELYSEES
780 King Street W, Toronto ON, M5V 1C9
416-360-0095
delysees.com
Delysees Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Simit & Chai Co.

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It was my last day in Toronto and I was up early to take advantage of it. There isn’t much open at 7am, but luckily this Turkish cafe was; and it offered me my first taste of a simit. A “simit” is a Turkish street bagel dipped in molasses and covered with sesame seeds.

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The cafe’s all brick exterior, rounded arch way, and bold sign reminded me of a train stop. Inside the red brick continued and found companionship with wood flooring and faux marble table tops. There was plenty of seating within this open space with some unique pieces used for decoration. An old timey coffee grinder with wooden base and metal crank, a pointed pick with its end sharpened, miniature succulents in metal cans and concrete blocks, and a wood carving the length and shape of an enlarged baguette.

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Being early and the first customer in, they were still in the midst of setting up their selling counters for the day. Wooden trays and elevated platforms with labels awaiting their baked goods. Brownies, date squares, almond cookies, various muffins, and pre-assembled sandwiches in asiago olive tapenade and feta tomato.

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When ordering, the clerk assured me that I was pronouncing it correctly. Simits don’t look like your regular bagels. They are larger and thinner loops, making them heavier and denser instead of fluffy and chewy.

When looking for toppings I asked for the traditional filling of asiago cheese and pastirma, a dry cured beef. But they also them available with cream cheese and olive paste, fava bean purée, hummus, smoked ham, beef brisket, and goat cheese; amongst other things.

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The bagel was dry and hard from its molasses shell. It had a nice roasted sesame flavour, but the falling seeds made eating a messy affair. This was a good amount of food at $11.50, especially given the quality in ingredients used. Both the meat and cheese was fresh and fragrant, they gave some saltiness to the slight sweetness of the bagel. Over all it was one of the most interesting bagels I have ever had, it was so far from what I am used to, but definitely worth a try.

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I accompanied my traditional Turkish breakfast with a Turkish coffee latte. I am not a coffee expert so can’t tell the difference between Turkish coffee and regular coffee. But it was strong and warm. I couldn’t taste the milk and/or sugar if there was any.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I wish this was more accessible to me, with a location in Vancouver, so that I could have it more often. Truly a delicious treat or completed breakfast for the senses. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SIMIT & CHAI CO.
787 Kings Street West, Toronto ON, M5V 1N4
647-352-4161
simitandchai.co
Simit & Chai Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Little India Restaurant

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My time in Toronto was coming to a close. I had tried the many cuisines that this multicultural city had to offer, so thought tonight was as good as any for some Indian food. The night was cold and the wind was sharp, I wanted something within walking distance of my hotel. And apparently there isn’t much available after 7pm on Sunday. So I was in luck to be able to walk in and get a table right away, while a few others waited. Many were in the same position I was, out of options, and just happy that this was available. Especially after learning that this was one of the best voted Indian restaurants downtown Toronto. And given the amount of people they kept coming in well after 9pm, and all the take out orders that went through the exit, I guess it is safe to assume this to be true.

They advertised themselves and a fine dining Indian restaurant. Having sampled several Indian restaurants in Vancouver, I would consider their cuisine regular Indian food, good but certainly not the small portion and curated plates you think of when you think fine dining. I consider Vancouver’s “Vij’s”, and “East is East” more fine dining than this place, and they themselves classify their establishments as being on the casual side. It was especially the case here with their buffet line towards the back of the room. Metal troughs meant to keep cooked food warm. They weren’t in use now for dinner service, but I imagine them a quick and easy lunch option for those in the area.

Maybe the fine dining was in reference to the decor. It was a dimly lit space with white table cloths, red cloth placemats, and reusable cloth napkins. They also served water in goblets from a copper jug, and the staff were well dressed in vests and slacks. In comparison I underdressed in literally everything I packed with me. I planned for sun and Toronto heat, so when it was colder than I expected, I bundled up with layers and everything I had with me. This included a hoodie and sweatpants. But they served me and treated me with much consideration just the same. I really appreciated the conversation the server provided, going into more than just if everything was okay. He really wanted detail as to how the food was. There was care and pride of work in this young man.

I would be going vegetarian for this one. After eating so much over the last few days, I needed a vegetable cleanse, even if most of it was deep fried and covered in sauce. I ordered more than I could finish, and found much value in what I had. It was an impressive assembly that was not only tasty alone, but complimentary all together. I had things that looked mushy, turn out to be delicious with a creamy texture; and things I expected to be soft and tender, to be crunchy like raw carrots. The surprise was an adventure and I enjoyed it all.

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The meal began with a complimentary serving of sweet pickled vegetable with crispy thin rice crackers. This complimentary basket was definitely inline with fine dining. It was semi raw carrot cubes in a pickling syrup, eaten with the wafer thin cracker; not for taste, but for the airy crisp texture it provided.

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I started with an appetizer of “Vegetable pakora”. “Pakoras” are a variety of vegetables deep fried in a chickpea batter. It is a fritter shaped like a patty, with a crispy texture. It was spicy and savoury alone, and then more so with sweet and also spicy dipping sauce provided. The sauce was a neon red similar to the Chinese sweet chilli sauce in colour and in taste.

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The “Vegetable thali” is a platter sampling various starters. A combination of four different vegetable dishes, served with salad and plain paratha, Pulao rice, raita, and the chef’s special dessert. This was a lot of food and I recommend sharing it with three others, leaving room for some much needed palette cleansing desserts.

Everything was served in sample size portions, on a sectional metal tray. With various shapes and specific sizes I assume it was designed specifically for such a course. From the dips in mental for soups and sauces, to the small dents meant for a smear of plum paste.

I wasn’t certain how to incorporate the dollop of salted plum at the centre of the platter. But I assumed its sharp flavour was helpful in refreshing the palette in between flavourful bites.

The salad was a simple shredded lettuce in a tangy vinaigrette. It felt like it didn’t belong and was more of a place holder.

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“Paratha” is unleavened whole wheat flatbread. They are made by baking the dough before frying it. Parathas are more thicker and more doughier than their cousin the roti. They can be layered and stuffed, but this one was served plain like a side of bread. They made a great base for the other dishes, similar use to the rice below.

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The rice was flavoured basmati. I would have liked more of it for the starch amongst the vegetable stews below.

“Raita” is an Indian side dish made with dahi together with raw or cooked vegetables. It is milky in colour with the consistency of a melted cream and the tang of yogurt. It reminded me of a watery tzazki dip; without its thickness, but with its pickling. It gave the serving a great cooling element to layer on to your bites.

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The “Eggplant bharta” wasn’t much to look at, but it was at least tasty. Smokey grilled eggplant, mashed with tomatoes and onions, and seasoned with various spices. It made a great dip for the flatbread. Like a chunkier and lighter hummus, if we are keeping with the Mediterranean similes.

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“Palak paneer” is fresh spinach cooked with cottage cheese. A literal puréed spinach, spinach dip. I avoided this one as it looked like regurgitated greens to me and the visual eater in me wasn’t having any of that.

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“Chana masala” is chickpeas cooked in a spicy ginger tomato sauce. The peas were grainy, and therefore not my favour texture, but the taste certainly made up for it in my eyes. Plus it offered the platter some more chewing opportunities, where most of its neighbours were spreads and sauces.

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The “Vegetable jalfrezi” came on its own separate plate. It was nice that I got all this from one order, but I couldn’t have done without this bowl, especially as it was just a collection of frozen vegetables (You could tell by the grating pattern on the carrots). Mixed vegetables cooked with garlic, ginger, tomato, and spices.

By the end of the meal my mouth was burning with the slow accumulation of spice. I couldn’t pin point where it came from, but the dessert that followed certainly helped to soothe some of it.

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Tonight’s chef special dessert was the a milk-solids-based sweet “Gulab jamun”. It is basically a spongy cake ball that soaks up all the sugar syrup that it sits in. It was nice to have something sweet to end on, but after the initial bite, I found it too sweet. And sadly it wasn’t any better after my attempt at squeezing each ball, to rid it of any excess syrup. I am also not a fan of the soggy texture. Given the spice above, I would have preferred a creamed milk or better yet some chai flavoured ice cream, but I guess neither would be very authentic.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Indian food is hard for me to describe, I don’t have many point of references, I just know what tastes good in my mouth. Here everything smelled great and was so different from everything else. Not the most aesthetic dishes I have had in Toronto, but definitely some of the most tastiest. The only down side is, having such pungent food means you wear it with you, as your clothes absorb the scents and spices, and follows you back to your hotel. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LITTLE INDIA
255 Queen Street West, Toronto ON, M5V 1Z4
416-205-9836
littleindia.ca
Little India Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fresh Off The Boat

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This was one of the more memorable places I visited during my stay in Toronto, and not just for its name.

This “Fresh off the Boat” has no affiliation with my favourite Asian American family sitcom. Even though the restaurant actually played hardcore hip hop, including some tracks “Eddie Huang” would approve of. (You need to follow the show the get the reference.)

The term “Fresh off the Boat” was formerly used to classify newly immigrated Chinese citizens to western countries. It was used as a jab to point out their differences in culture, food, and beliefs. It was seen as something derogatory when I was growing up. To be someone “fresh off the boat” (aka F.O.B) was an insult, and as a Chinese student in a western school, you wanted none of it. But on the television series and in Eddie Huang’s memoirs, they have take back the term and use it lovingly to point about the uniqueness that a Chinese American family faces. And at this restaurant, it is used literally to emphasis the freshness in all the seafood they use in all their dishes.

The restaurant’s exterior had a clean look to it. All black with its name lit in teal. Although, it the large crab decal on the window that says it all: seafood joint.

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The theme travels inwards. Bleach wood wall paneling, rope tied in sailing knots dangling from the rafters, a propellor used in decoration, single light bulbs strung from wires, walls papered with a grey scale illustration of a school of fish at swim; and nautical themed photos of ships at high sea. Black and white visual memories of fishermen with their catch of the day, and fingers snipped by pincher claws.

The counter in which you order from is framed in a ceiling to floor moulding feature. It bevels and makes it appear that you are order from within a circle. Or perhaps, a ships’s window: a porthole?

The menu was easy to navigate with a series of items spelled out across several blackboards. Together, they formed a functional collage by the entrance. It all sounded so good, I took the proper time to go through each option. An Asian inspired po’boy meet banh mi with battered catfish and pickled kimchi. An Asian inspired surf and turf sandwich with Korean style beef partnering up with tiger shrimp. Catfish, sword fish, and mahi mahi grilled. The classic fish and chips combo with halibut. And a lobster roll, shrimp sandwich, seafood chowder, and fries topped with snow crab.

There was much of it I wanted to order and all of it I wanted to try. But I was just one woman, trying to eat all she could, and pack in a month’s worth of dining out in Toronto all into one weekend trip. I had to pace myself and prioritize my eating to what I felt was the most unique, what stood out from a list of creative seafood twists. Nothing was more this then eating a burger with a whole crab in place of an regular patty.

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Enter the “Soft shell crab burger”.
The “Soft shell crab sandwich” comes with a whole battered and fried soft shell crab, lettuce, and tomato on a grilled bun. It is served with with a side of fresh cut fries and a cup of broccoli and raisin slaw. Soft shell crabs are crustacean without the tough exoskeletons of other crabs. They have nothing to protect their juicy meat, and you can eat them without cracking into them. The crab was battered claws and all. Then with a dollop of mayonnaise, it was sandwiched between vegetables and two halves of a hamburger bun. In hindsight I should have ordered just the crab as is, as it was what I came here for and the only thing I ended up eating all of. The buns just made for great mits to keep my hands from getting saucy.

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The crab was juicy, each bite had liquid dribbling down my chip and moisture pooling between my fingers. You needed the firm grip of both hands, but even then it was hard to eat without looking like a savage. Half way through the burger buns broke apart, soggy with the moisture from the crab. From there it was knife and fork, picking at things. The crab was crispy bites with golden brown breading. Quite the treat, that I could have eaten a bucket of it, a la “KFC” style.

It is worth noting that, even the side of slaw was the restaurant’s own creative interpretation. I didn’t even know you could make a decent slaw using broccoli. Semi raw broccoli stems julienned down to size, coated in vinegar and mayo, along with carrots for colour and raisins for sweetness. It offered the perfect tang to partner with seafood, the freshness you need when having something deep fried, and the sweetness to reset your palette after every forkful.

But he forewarned you get thirsty quick with this one. Luckily they made available a self serve station that included iced water and all the napkins and utensils you would need. The lemon slices floating in the water was a nice touch as citrus naturally pairs well with seafood.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The place was something special, truly one for the seafood lovers. Classics and new flavours well thought out, and as consistent as their setting. This is one Vancouver needs, and would do well in our restaurant landscape. This is especially so, considering our great resources to fresh seafood and our already prevalent use of Asian flavours and ingredients; not to mention there is an the easy availability of both here. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FRESH OFF THE BOAT
404 Queens Street, Toronto ON, M5V 2A6
416-603-3333
fotb416.com
Fresh Off the Boat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Voodoo Child Cafe

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I am not ashamed to admit that I came all the way here for the novelty of their skull shaped glasses. This little shop is the perfect fusion of coffee and bourbon, all under one roof; as such, they offer the possibility for coffee cocktails for those who like their vices two fold. This was yet another concept I have yet to see in Vancouver, that got me excited during my visit to Toronto.

I missed its all black exterior the first time pass. It’s open eye within a heart logo caught my attention the second time around. On a sunny day like today I could see comfort in the simple patio, with minimal shade from the awning cover. A great spot for people watching.

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Inside, the walls were covered with chalkboard menus, written in some of the neatest chalk print I have ever seen. Scattered around the place were knick knacks and collectables worth starting a conversation over. A four print series of antique revolvers framing menu placards. The antlers of what look like a deer mounted by the ceiling. And a silver tea set with vials of dried leaves and flowers ready for service on a tray.

I propped myself up on their bar. It was a cozy seat amongst a cozy setting. I sat by their espresso machine, and got a view of their milk frother and hot water machine, just below their shelves separating spirits with coffee beans and loose leaf. It’s sanded down and paint peeling wood counters gave the place character and made for some great-rustic-morning-coffee-time photos.

What I appreciated most about this place was the conversations that approached me. I had a lovely girl suggesting places for me to visit during my stay in TO. She herself had been to Vancouver recently and we originally connected over that. I guess my wearing a toque in May and yoga pants with chucks gave my non Torontoian vibe away.

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The coffee menu had all the classics espressos and green and black teas, and flavoured lattes and hot chocolate under “specialty drinks”.

The bourbon cocktails menu didn’t list ingredients, but only mentioned names. It was a good show of trust in your bartender to have them recommend you the right one; or it would at least encourage a conversation with them over what was in a “the troubled cousin”, “suffering bastard”, or a “black magic”.

I asked and ordered specifically to ensure I got one of each coffee and bourbon in a skull shaped glass. A bourbon cocktail in the middle of the day followed by coffee to wash it down, yes I am planning to have a good today. Though, ironically I don’t like coffee and am not the biggest fan of bourbon. Yet I drank both all the way to the bottom, all for the love of trying new things and to not be anymore wasteful than I have been. Trying things for the experience of it and not being able to finish in order to fit in more.

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I clearly ordered the “Wu tang clan” for its name. And for similar reasons, the “Voodoo child” coffee ended up in my cup too. Both were strong and packed a punch. A great paring for the rest of my walking tour. Although as much as I am going on and on about the glasses, they were not easy to drink out of. It was almost cumbersome drinking experience. The glass just didn’t rest neatly between your lips, your lips didn’t cup the edge of the glass just so. It forced you to breath in sips and enjoy what you worked so hard to take it.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Sadly, because I am neither a fan of either of the genre of two drinks they specialize in, nor do I reside in Toronto, I do not see myself returning. However, for the coffee connoisseur this one is worth stopping at. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VOODOO CHILD
388 College Street, Toronto ON, M5T 1S7
647-748-1011
Voodoo Child Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

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I ventured in for some doughnuts mentioned on “you got to eat here”, and made by bakers who have won the Food Network’s “Doughnut Showdown”. I went expecting some pretty unique confectionary creations, and they delivered for the most part.

The pink and white themed doughnut shop was easy enough to spot. Their logo, a series of sketched out circles drawn in white, decal-ed the front window. It was simple and to the point, like their name: “Modern Doughnuts”.

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Inside, the decor was the same pink and white. There was not much in terms of decoration, but you are here for the doughnuts anyways. And they more than made up for the lack of patterns and colours in their strictly white and pink motif. There was a pretty cozy snacking nook by the front window. The space included pink plastic chairs paired with white plastic pedestal tables. The glossy cubes made for great seats or tables. But the best was the bench set against the window with pink throw cushions strewn for a more comfortable sit. I would later grab a seat here, to be able to enjoy my treat in comfort.

Their collection of doughnuts were behind glass at the check out counter. Each flavour included its own pink sign and the option to have them in a regular or smaller size. I liked the choice and the opportunity to go small to have a few, or to get the regular sized ones for a more fulsome dessert.

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The clerk was working in the back, she allowed me all the time I needed to browse their wares. Their doughnuts were not stuffed, but instead had their rings plugged. Filled to the brim with cream or custard for that extra indulgence. The “peanut butter cup” came with chocolate icing and a smooth peanut butter centre topped with the actual nuts, the “coconut” was with coconut cream with shredded coconut topping, the “s’mores” had its centre plugged with a marshmallow cube and dusted with graham cracker crumb, the “classic jelly” was powdered and glistening with strawberry jam, and the “maple bacon” had maple frosting and a centre of candied bacon bits. Their seasonal fruit doughnut was a mango, lime, and mint chutney. Their season’s favourite was a bit more tame with a chocolate coating topped with gummy bears. And their doughnut of the month was a “Mumbai fog with chai glaze”.

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I went with the “Madagascar vanilla with pink gradient sprinkles”. It wasn’t the most unique, but it certainly seemed like their trademark doughnut in colour. Dough, icing, and sprinkles came together for a layered flavour. Sweet vanilla with tangy grapefruit. The doughnut was definitely fresh with a spongy texture. The small was the perfect amount for a blogger trying to eat as much as she could on her last day in Toronto.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
My initial reason for visiting was because they won competitions like “Doughnut Showdown” and because they were featured on “You Gotta Eat Here”. But after speaking to the clerk, I learn all their achievements were set in Calgary, with none in Toronto. Though they still made a good hand dipped doughnut, and are one of the only places I have seen that offer their doughnuts with a choice of size: large and small. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

JELLY MODERN DOUGHNUTS
376 College street, Toronto ON, M5T 1S6
416-962-2053
jellymoderndoughnuts.com
Jelly Modern Doughnuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toronto Popcorn Company

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This shop is dedicated to just popcorn. Taking this everyday snack into the gourmet realm with handcrafted flavouring.

Today the shop was ran by two women. I was going to make a purchase anyways, but they were the reason I bought two more bags then intended, and came back for more the next day. We chit chatted, and when they learned I was from out of town, they mentioned that their popcorn is available for shipping all across Canada. Throwing in that it makes great occasion gifts and the perfect party snack, like for weddings and birthday parties.

We ended our exchange with them encouraging me to take as many samples as I liked. With over 40 different flavours, this would take a while. Luckily it was a fun experience. Flipping open sealed jars like a bear dipping his paw in honey. Using a clean spoon to scoop out as many kernels as I wanted to try. (Because really who eats popcorn one kernel at a time?) Although a week later I believe they upgraded their sampling system. Replacing jar and spoon for a plastic turn style gum all machine. A twist of the dial dictated popcorn tumbling out. Not only was it more sanitary, efficient, and user friendly for their clients, but it also regulated anyone who had no shame of being greedy.

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The square box of a room had a shelf of their best selling popcorn, already packed at the door for an easy grab and go. And any flavour you didn’t see they could package and seal for you on the spot. They had tubs of it on wire racks behind the counters.

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Their popcorn flavours are divided into categories like savoury with 20 choices, sweet and fruits with 15, and specialties with 11 interesting flavour combinations. Within the savoury list is Buffalo kick, Cajun, creamy peri peri, honey mustard, pizza, sweet chilli pepper, ranch, and steak BBQ; just to name a few. They also brought together some fun combinations like cheesy dill and garlic Parmesan. They even listed their vegan friendly options for those with dietary needs to be able to enjoy their snacks.

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For sweet they of course had the classic caramel; but also a spicy hot cinnamon that tasted like the Valentine’s Day hearts, and piña colada that resembled rum and coconut. They had many more flavoured like fruits and brought them all together for packages called “confetti”, with their multiple colours and multiple flavours mingling. Banana, black cherry, green apple, grape, blue raspberry, and watermelon, etc.

The premium popcorn was some next level creativeness. A cheese plus caramel combo that just worked, chocolate and peanut butter crisp, popcorn that tasted like cinnamon rolls, cookies and cream with a crushed cookie coating, popcorn flavoured like cupcakes with strawberry frosting and rainbow sprinkles, strawberry milkshake dusted in a powder mix, and popcorn coated to resemble peanut brittle and s’mores; just to name a few.

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There is so much to taste and so much more you want to buy after sampling. Each new flavour I tried was just as interesting as the last. All the flavours tasted as their name promised. And half the fun was trying them all to see if they delivered. It reminded me of the thrill of tasting jelly belly jellybeans. I was especially impressed by the seasoning on the Buffalo wing, Nacho (cheese and ground beef), and taco (beef and seasoning mix with tomato).

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Half the fun is trying before you buy. Like sampling weird ice cream flavours, knowing you’ll be getting vanilla. They all taste great, but I would recommend the cheesy caramel or pizza if you are looking to commit to a bag. During my visit to Toronto I found they made great souvenirs to take back home to Vancouver. Easy to carry from shop to hotel and easy to store in your luggage with their light weight. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TORONTO POPCORN
147 Baldwin Street, Toronto ON, M5T 3K7
1-844-767-8368 / 1-844-pop-tdot
torontopopcorncompany.com
Toronto Popcorn Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Momofuku Milk Bar

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After having lunch at “Momofuku’s Noodle Bar”, I stayed in my seat for dessert. Located in the same building, is their together, but separate “Momofuku Milk Bar”.

I was as excited about their dessert as I was with their ramen. The well known “Milk Bar” is under the same umbrella, and it too had its own cookbook. They served the “Milk Bar” soft serve ice cream for dessert and had a shop of sorts on the second floor. I would shop their cookies and cakes like a kid in a candy store, then take my cup of soft serve to go.

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Located on the second floor is their store, marked by their trademark neon pink “Milk” sign in script. It is the only thing on this floor, aside from the additional, unsat stools from the noodle bar and its washrooms. From this height you get a great view of the space below, but it was not practical for the servers to deliver great customer service having to trek up and down the stairs to get to you.

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The “Milk Bar” is a self serve shopping experience with a chalkboard tutorial. The colourful chalk listing directs you on how to proceed, and what they have available. The shop room is a refrigerated glass box with several shelves. On each: a flavour of cookie, cake, truffle, or baking mix. The labels on the packages were pretty clear, but in case, it was also written on little chalkboard sign markers. I got one of each kind of ready to eat treat, focusing on the most popular or what I left was more unique.

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I picked up the “corn cookie”. It used corn bread and as a result promised a buttery colour and texture. They also had a “blueberry and cream” sugar cookie with dried blueberries and milk crumb. A vegan and wheat free maple, coconut, and pecan cookie. A “compost cookie that had pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. And their newest was a double chocolate cookie with chocolate in chocolate. It was a cakey cookie that definitely reminded me of corn bread. The more you eat it, the more you taste the cornmeal in it. I almost made out the distinct flavour of coconut as well. It was a light and buttery cookie as promised, with a great chewy texture.

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For their truffles they had pink strawberry and lemon and a chocolate malt cake. I got their most popular: the “birthday truffle” with rainbow sprinkles. So popular that they also sold this in a box of twelve. Rainbow cake, white chocolate, and rainbow sprinkles. Like a cake pop in texture, but without the stick. Doughy, crumbly, and almost raw. Sweet and doughy with the crunch of sprinkles.

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And with its name alone, the “crack pie” could not be missed. A pie of toasted oats with a gooey butter filling. It was similarly to a butter tart in creamy centre and melt in your mouth filing, on top of a crunchy base. I found it a little oily and a lot too sweet for my taste, but wonderful in small bites.

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All the above went it to my bag and I left with one of their soft serve twist cups to go. The soft serve is dispensed from a machine on the ground level, right by the door. You have your choice of “cereal milk”, “fruit soft”, or both as a twist.

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I went with the twist to be able to try both, to I added cornflake for an extra cost and an extra crunch. I didn’t find either flavour all that different from one another. A little tangy and not that sweet. The crunchy homemade corn flakes almost seemed to be sweeter. This was a great end to a rich meal like ramen. I could see them being busier during summer and would have liked to have the ship more accessible on the first floor for a pop in, take out and go process.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
It is trendy for a reason, I can definitely see myself return again during my next trip out. For novelty and because both Momofuku Noodle and Milk Bar deliver on taste for price asked. Plus, it is one thing to have read and admire the cookbooks. It is another to experience and taste the cuisine as it was intended, for yourself. Another one checked off the foodie bucket list. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MOMOFUKU MILK BAR
Second Floor
190 University Avenue, Toronto ON, M5H 0A3
647-253-8000
milkbarstore.com
Momofuku Milk Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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