Journal

Culinary Adventures in Toronto

I’m proud to call Canada my home; it’s an amazing place! Born and raised, I have lived here for most of my life. Growing up in a multicultural city has definitely shaped my world views, even when I was at a young age. My home city is a place where people of many ethnicities live side-by-side despite their differences. Instead, focusing on the similarities of our Canadian values allowed us to get along and function as a melting pot society. I believe it’s beneficial to meet people of all sorts in order to destroy stereotypes and understand we’re all human and share more similarities than differences. It is different from growing up in a homogeneous community where everyone has (to an extent) similar values, beliefs, traditions, and appearance. And as a result of this melting pot, Toronto is a city where countless cuisines are cooking at any time, so that means there’s tons of unique restaurants and dishes to try out. I’m always ready to eat something new and flavourful! My stomach and my taste buds are ready! Yum!

I’m not a food critic at all, so don’t expect this to be more than a rambling love letter to food…

So my favourite kind of cuisine is… Hmmm, it’s honestly so difficult to decide, but I’ll go with Thai food as I write this. I absolutely love Khao Soi and Green Curry. They’re to die for, a perfect last meal. When I first started eating out a lot (aka, university), I couldn’t handle spicy food that well. I was weak. Mild please, I’d say meekly, ashamed. However, by eating spicy food more and more, I obviously grew stronger and could handle higher levels of chili flakes and spices. This has allowed me to try a lot of different Thai dishes because Thai food is fairly spicy. Thank you my tongue, for blessing me with this wonderful gift.

In Toronto, my favourite Thai places to eat are Khao San Road, Nana (same owner as Khao San Road), and Sukhothai, which all have amazing Thai Iced Tea.

So, at Sukhothai I have tried their Pad Thai and Gaeng Massaman. Both are delicious and filling. It’s a great restaurant and their Wellington location looks quite fancy. It’s a great place for a date, and to see if your partner likes the same food as you. Nana has a different décor; it feels like you’re eating in Thailand. Their restaurant has small tables and stools to sit on. It’s loud and has a great drinking atmosphere as well. It’s a friendly, fun, cozy place to eat – almost like a hole-in-the-wall. It definitely feels more authentic. If you go, their Green Curry is pretty spicy – let that be a warning! But their Khao Soi is probably my favourite out of all the restaurants I’ve mentioned. Mmmm… I’m hungry now.

Khao San Road is popular, they don’t take reservations and there is usually a line out the door. At Khao San Road, I tried Khao Soi, fresh rolls, and the Three Flavours Pad Thai. At Khao San Road, they also have spicy levels for their dishes. It ranges from No Spice – Extreme Thai Spicy. If you’re brave, you can even go higher for Chef Top Spicy. I don’t recommend that because it sounds terrifying. I can only hand level 3 – Spicy. It’s one step above average, aka Medium Spicy. How brave are you?

Another Thai restaurant I want to try is called Pai. It appears to have a similar décor and feels like Nana, except this one is always super busy. My boyfriend and I have tried to eat here a couple of times but the wait was always too long and we were always too hungry to wait that long. It’s certainly popular, and with the good reviews it gets, it seems like it is worth the wait. Maybe next time, Pai, maybe next time…

If I was one of the seven deadly sins, I think I would be gluttony, except my eyes are often bigger than my stomach.

So when I was debating what my favourite kind of cuisine was, it was between Thai and Japanese. Toronto has amazing Japanese restaurants. There are restaurants that specialize in ramen, sushi, sukiyaki, udon, curry, you name it! We even have Tsujiri, a matcha (powdered green tea) café. Their matcha is famous and is from Uji in Kyoto. The reason I am suddenly talking about dessert first is because their tea is amazing. It’s not sweet. I hate sweetened tea and sweetened matcha. Their matcha ice cream is bitter, their matcha tea is bitter; it’s the way it’s served in Japan. It’s perfect! Definitely an authentic tea taste if that’s what you are looking for.

Now to move on to actual meals: Ramen.  Ramen is commonly found in dorms as a cheap, instant meal. No. Don’t eat that! Or at least, don’t think that’s all ramen is. It’s an incredibly complex, layered noodle soup meal. It’s absolutely delicious and rich. Try Santouka, it’s the best ramen I’ve had outside of Japan. It is Hokkaido style ramen, and it’s another place that always has a line out the door. I’ll always wait for this one if I’m craving ramen. You can sit alone on a stool on the bar and slurp your noodles, or sit at a table and order a drink or two with your amazing meal. My favourite is their miso or shoyu style. Mmmmm…

santouka
Gyoza with miso tonkotsu ramen. Oh man, it looks sooooo good!! 

If you want an exciting dining experience, you could go to an Izakaya (Kinka Izakaya) where everyone is happily shouting welcome and orders and thank you. There are tons of small dishes to order to try and share. There are specials to order if you go on your birthday, either food or shots. You can even order a bottle of sake to share and drink and join in on the loud, bar-like atmosphere.

Now, my favourite Japanese restaurant in Toronto is Ematei. Here is where I first discovered my love for sukiyaki. That is my favourite meal (ever) and it is something I eat only once a year because it’s a little on the pricy side. If you’ve never tried it before, this is a good place to start if you’re in Toronto. They’ll even set up the hot pot for you if you’re a newbie and don’t know what you are doing. They’ll place the thinly sliced beef on table, pour the soup base with the mirin in the pot, add the many vegetables and rolled noodles into the pot and set the flame going too. Ematei has other meals too, like bento boxes, sushi/sashimi sets, noodles, curries, and rice dishes as well. There are tons of foods to try. Just a heads up, this is a higher end restaurant so make sure your wallet is ready.

I could ramble on about Japanese restaurants for days. Especially during Toronto’s Winterlicious and Summerlicious events where it’s fun to eat out at different restaurants for their set three course meals. Momofuku and Miku are two other Japanese restaurants to try out (though Momofuku is more Japanese fusion) which have seasonal menus.

There are too many cuisines to list in one blog post, so I’m sorry other types of foods, your paragraphs will be shorter.

My favourite Korean place to eat is Korean Village (there’s no website to link). It’s in Koreatown in Toronto, near where the Honest Ed’s used to be. By the way, it hurts me to say ‘used to’ for Honest Ed’s – I loved that place…That’s also close to Snakes and Lattes if you’re ever up for sandwiches and coffee while playing board games for hours on end. Anyways, the owner of Korean Village is friendly and talkative, once my boyfriend and I came in at the odd hour between lunch and dinner and were the only ones in the restaurants for a bit. He came over and talked about cooking and family recipes and it was a great time. He gave us a lot of side dishes too! The place also has tons of pictures on the wall of famous people who have eaten there, including Jackie Chan! Go get your kimchi on!

kv
Mmm, Kam Ja Tang, also known as Pork Bone Soup. Spicy!

Fried chicken and waffles are excellent soul food, especially if you just want to eat something extremely filling and tasty. Cluck Clucks near Distillery district has great fried chicken and large buttermilk waffles as a pairing. You can choose between thigh or breast meat on a soft, fluffy waffle. It comes with a sauce of your choice, go for either sweet or spicy, or both! Another option is to pick a sandwich, a piece of fried chicken in between two waffles with some toppings. My mouth is watering thinking about it!

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Are you feeling hungry enough for fried chicken and waffles AND potato wedges???

Ice cream is always an excellent choice on a hot summer day, and for me, even a cold winter day. My two favourite places to eat ice cream are (in no particular order): Bang Bang and Arctic Bites. Bang Bang is a small shop in Ossington which in the peak of summer heat has winding lines out the door and down the street. It’s another place I’ll say it’s worth the wait. You can get your ice cream in a tub to take home, a cone, a waffle, between two cookies, on a cinnamon bun, or a sugar cone. The creamy ice cream comes in many delightful flavours too ranging from traditional vanilla, chocolate, burnt toffee, or cookie dough, all the way to the unique honey chamomile, avocado, cinnamon toast, or PB&J. My personal favourite is their genmaicha and matcha ice cream flavour. I want it now. And if that’s not sweet enough for you, Peace Treats is around the corner and you can check that place out for a gourmet milkshake. That’s something you’ll want to share or else you might get a tummy ache later!

Arctic Bites is a different type of ice cream. It is fried ice cream rolls which also come in a variety of flavours like black sesame, taro, cotton candy, strawberry, or Thai tea – just to name a few examples. After watching them scrape the ice cream off into cute little rolls, depending on the flavour you got there will be different toppings. Thai Tea comes with condensed milk, strawberry pocky, a thin waffle cookie, and panda bites. It’s quite filling so you’ll want to share this too. It’ll make for a good date.

Instead of ending with dessert, my last paragraph will be about my favourite weekend meal: brunch. My favourite place to go for brunch is Mildred’s Temple Kitchen Temple Kitchen. This place has scrumptious food, and it even has a chef’s daily special made with local, seasonal ingredients. The servers are great too, they’ve all tasted the special each morning to know what each dish tastes like and can explain it well to the customers. And their blueberry pancakes are the fluffiest pancakes I’ve had in Toronto. Oh man, I daydream about those pancakes! However, this place is so delicious that if you don’t get in right when it opens, you need a reservation or patience to wait in line. So, take my advice: make a reservation well in advance or become the couple that fights because they didn’t get their brunch. Don’t be hangry!

Now you all know what a glutton I am. I love to eat at new restaurants around Toronto and the Toronto area. I didn’t even get to talk about half of my favourite foods.

Maybe I’ll write another love letter to food.

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