A Very Memorable Meal at Cava

Cava TorontoLocation: 1560 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.cavarestaurant.ca/

I tend to focus mostly on places that offer prices on the cheaper end of the spectrum; aside from the obvious (they’re cheap!), I generally find them more satisfying.  There aren’t many things in the world that I love more than a really great bowl of noodles from a hole in the wall.

Still, it’s nice to venture out to pricier restaurants every now and then.  There’s a level of craft and a quality of ingredients that you just can’t get without shelling out some cash.

Cava Toronto

Cava is a great example of this.  It certainly isn’t cheap, but holy moly the food was good.

They focus on Spanish-inspired tapas, so I got to try a handful of things.

Cava Toronto

The chicken liver and foie gras mousse was deeply flavourful and luxuriously creamy.  It’s served with a little bowl of grainy mustard on the side, which does a great job of cutting the richness of the mineraly pate.

Cava Toronto

The “Supergilda” features a deliciously fishy sardine on tomato-spread toast, speared with olives and anchovy.  It’s simple, but immensely satisfying.

Cava Toronto

Next up was the jamon croquetta, which was a crunchy fried tube of creamy goodness.  It was a bit light on the jamon, but was otherwise really tasty.

Cava Toronto

The beef salpicon was one of my favourites of the evening.  It had a seriously intense beefy flavour, a tasty combo of high quality olive oil and acidity, and a fantastic contrast between the tender beef and the crispy bits on top.

Cava Toronto

My absolute favourite dish of the night was the eggplant with queso fresco, bonito, and tomatillo sauce.  Holy crap, this dish.  The contrast in textures here was insane — the deep fried exterior was shatteringly crisp, and the eggplant within was absurdly creamy.  The combo of those two textures was bonkers, and the gooey cheese, smoky/funky bonito flakes, and zingy tomatillo sauce complimented it perfectly.  So damn good.

Cava Toronto

The last savoury dish was the roasted pork belly and morcilla in a kidney bean stew.  This was basically an upscale version of pork and beans.  It was almost absurdly rich, with the blood sausage really amping up the luxurious flavour of the beans.

Cava Toronto

We had the churros for dessert, which was probably the only real disappointment of the night.  The cinnamon- and sugar-dusted churros were certainly tasty, but nothing about them stood out from the churros you can get at any number of places throughout the GTA.

Cava Toronto

It did, however, come with a small cup of drinking chocolate that had an amazingly intense flavour.  Just give me a big mug of that and I’ll be a happy man.

Quality Korean Shaved Ice at The Cups

The CupsLocation: 3235 Highway 7, Markham
Website: None

The Cups is a little dessert shop in the First Markham plaza that specializes in bingsu, a tasty Korean shaved ice dessert.

I generally liked shaved ice, though sometimes, it’s a bit watery.  The Cups has a fairly ingenious solution for this issue: they use milk instead of water for their ice, which gives the dessert a much richer, creamier consistency.

The Cups

I ordered the mango bingsu, which features mango chunks, cheesecake chunks, condensed milk, mango sauce, and whipped cream.

It’s quite good.  The mango pieces are ripe and sweet, and the ice-to-stuff ratio is pretty much right on point.  Plus, the aforementioned milk ice ensures that the whole thing has a satisfyingly creamy consistency.

The Cups

On another visit, I tried the red bean, which features soybean powder, mochi cubes, almond flakes, red bean, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I think I might have liked it even better than the mango, though the ice-to-stuff ratio was a bit off.  It needed a bit more red bean (I don’t think there was any in the middle).

Stellar Dim Sum at Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Dragon Boat Fusion CuisineLocation: 160 East Beaver Creek Road, Markham
Websitehttp://www.dragonboatfusioncuisine.com/

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine is a dim sum joint that does well.  We showed up at around 10:40 on a Saturday, and the place was seriously crowded.  By the time we left, it was even more packed, with a crowd waiting for tables almost going out the door.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Eating the food, it’s easy enough to see why.  Some highlights:

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The char siu was sweet and incredibly tender.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

These fried seafood-filled tubes were nice and crispy on the outside, with a fishy (but not overbearing) flavour.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The fried dough noodle rolls were probably the best version of that dish that I’ve ever had, with a surprisingly complex flavour and a very satisfying contrast of textures between the chewy noodle, the crispy fried exterior, and the soft interior.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

I really should have taken a picture of the interior of these salted egg buns, because they were absolutely crammed with an oozy, sweet custardy filling.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

There were only a couple of weak dishes — surprisingly, they were the dim sum standbys that you’d think they’d work especially hard to get right.  The har gow featured an overly thick, almost gummy wrapper encasing overcooked shrimp.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

And the pork buns featured a filling that tasted a bit too leftovery.

Still, they were only two mild weak points in a meal that was otherwise quite stellar.

Tasty Frozen Custard at Woodfire Sandwich Co.

Woodfire Sandwich Co.Location: 3797 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.woodfiresandwich.com/

I’ve mentioned before that frozen custard is almost impossible to find in the city.  Which is completely baffling, because we have about a million ice cream shops.  There’s no reason we shouldn’t have a bunch of places serving delicious frozen custard.

As far as I know, we have two: Rita’s, an outpost of an American chain near Kensington Market, and now Woodfire Sandwich Co.

Woodfire Sandwich Co.

If you’re not familiar with frozen custard (and if you’re living in Toronto, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what it is), it’s basically like regular ice cream, but made more luxurious and creamy with the addition of egg yolks.

Woodfire serves chocolate, vanilla, and a rotating feature flavour.  You can also add a variety of optional toppings.  I just got plain vanilla so I could bask in the sweet, sweet, custardy glory without anything getting in the way.

Woodfire Sandwich Co.

It’s good.  It’s not quite as tasty as basically any frozen custard I’ve had in the States, but it’s legit.  It’s got a pronounced custardy flavour and a satisfyingly silky texture.  It could be creamier, and eating it gets a bit one-note sweet after a while, but all things considered, I enjoyed it.

Hey, beggars can’t be choosers.  It’s frozen custard and it doesn’t require that I drive hundreds of kilometres to the States.  I’ll take it.

Outstanding Noodles at Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

Mei Nung Beef Noodle HouseLocation: 3255 Highway 7, Markham
Website: None

Though there are a ton of amazing restaurants in the First Markham plaza, you’re going to have a hard time topping Mei Nung Beef Noodle House, which specializes in Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

The beef and beef tendon noodle soup is where it’s at.  You can choose from rice noodles, glass noodles, or homemade noodles, and the choice is clear — you’ve gotta get the homemade noodles.  They’re thick and hearty, with an amazingly satisfying level of chewiness.  They’re so good.

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

But then everything about this bowl is so good.  The broth is ridiculous: it’s beefy, zippy, and immensely flavourful.

You think it can’t possibly get any better, and then you add a spoonful of their wonderfully smoky chili oil, and lo and behold — it gets better.

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

The chunks of beef are super tasty and enormously tender, though the tendons are the real star of the show.  They’re so perfectly cooked that they’re essentially like meat butter.  They’re soft and unctuous and amazing.

They’re also super tasty; they do an impressive job of absorbing all of the seasoning in the soup.  They’re squishy, melt-in-your-mouth flavour bombs.

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

It all adds up to a bowl of noodle soup that’s easily one of the best in the GTA.  I challenge you to find a substantially better bowl of beef noodle soup — even with a plane ticket to Taiwan.