Yet Another Tasty Meal at Manpuku

ManpukuLocation105 McCaul Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.manpuku.ca/

Does the world need yet another Manpuku post from me?  Probably not!  (This would be post number three, for those keeping count.)  Am I going to do it anyway?

Yes.  Yes I am.

I feel like I have to keep telling everyone I can about this place, because it continually impresses me with its delightful combination of tasty eats and ultra-affordable prices.

Manpuku

On this particular visit I tried the curry don, which features a heaping serving of rice topped with a generous amount of beef curry.

As with everything else here, it’s quite good.  The mild curry isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, but it’s rich, tasty, and abundantly satisfying.  It comes with a whole bunch of tender, thinly-shaved beef and is, unsurprisingly, an amazing deal at $6.99 (which I guess is actually kind of expensive by Manpuku’s standards).

Tasty Slices at Superpoint

SuperpointLocation: 184 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.superpoint.ca/

Getting a reheated slice from a pizza place can be a bit of a dicey proposition.  Reheat a slice for too long and it becomes overly stiff and crunchy; not enough, and the cheese’s goo-factor isn’t there.  Or worse: it’s clammy.

And if the pizza sits on the counter too long, it eventually passes a point of no return; it can only ever be a shadow of its former self.

The slice I just had at Superpoint avoids all of these pitfalls.  It was one of the best reheated slices of pizza I’ve had in ages.

Superpoint

I think it’s the ultra-thin crust; the guy didn’t put it in the oven for much more than 30 seconds, but thanks to how thin it was, that was more than enough to heat it through and re-gooify the cheese.

The crust was actually pretty great, with a pronounced crispiness on its exterior that never felt overly crunchy or crackery.  It still had a pliable chewiness that complimented the crispy exterior perfectly.

This particular slice was pretty simple, with just tomato sauce, cheese, spicy sopressata, and a light sprinkling of parmesan and dried herbs.

Superpoint

It was fantastic.  The salty sopressata contrasted very nicely with the simple, slightly sweet tomato sauce, and there was the perfect proportion of cheese and sauce.  It was one of the better slices I’ve had in quite a while.

Bonus: it only cost five bucks (and that includes tax) for a slice of pizza bigger than my head.

Double bonus: it’s a five minute walk from Bang Bang, which means that for less than ten bucks, you can have a delicious slice of pizza and a scoop of the best ice cream in the city.  That’s about as perfect of a lunch as I can imagine.

Delicious and Unique pasta at Shiso Tree Cafe

Shiso Tree CafeLocation: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/ShisoTree/

Italian/Japanese fusion might sound odd on paper, but aside from the fact that Italian restaurants are actually quite popular in Japan, Shiso Tree Cafe is amazing.  All you need is one bite of their food to put any doubts to bed.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I tried a couple of starters: the tera-goma tebasaki (perfectly cooked chicken wings with a crunchy exterior and an addictively sweet glaze) and the tarutaru fries (amazing fries with homemade tartar sauce for dipping).  But their pasta is the real reason to come here.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I had the nori tsukudani: “braised nori sauce, onsen tamago, ikura, scallops, mentsuyu.”

It was so good, with the vibrant Japanese flavours making it really stand out from your average bowl of pasta.

The braised nori sauce tasted exactly how you’d hope it would: like nori, but in sauce form.  There’s something a bit odd (and very delightful) about taking such a familiar flavour and putting it in a new context.

Shiso Tree Cafe

And the onsen tamago (which is kind of like a silkier version of a poached egg, with a white that’s just barely set) was the perfect compliment.  It essentially liquefies into the pasta, coating the noodles and giving them an eggy richness.

The sweet, perfectly-cooked scallops match really well with the seaweed-infused sauce, and the greens add crunchy pops of freshness.  The pasta itself is, as you’d hope, perfectly al dente.

It’s certainly an unusual bowl of pasta, but it’s one where all of the flavours have been so perfectly considered.  It’s amazing.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I finished with the chestnut creme brulee, which was a fairly ingenious spin on a classic dessert; the rich chestnut flavour complimented the custard perfectly, and the crackily torched sugar on top was as satisfying as ever.

Amazing French Street Food at Mister Frenchy

Mister FrenchieLocation: 675 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.misterfrenchy.com/

Mister Frenchy is an unassuming restaurant on the Danforth that specializes in something called French tacos.

No, I had never heard of a French taco either.  But it’s a real thing, apparently — it’s basically a meaty, pressed wrap that was popularized in the Lyon region of France.

I think it’s safe to say that this is the only place in the city that you can try one, which is something that you should absolutely do.  It’s shockingly amazing.

Mister Frenchie

They have a variety of French tacos and baguette sandwiches on their menu; I went with the Le Lyonais French taco, which comes with “ground beef, Algerian sauce, tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, French fries, and sauce fromagere.”

It was so good.  The wrap was perfectly pressed, giving you that perfect combo of crispy and chewy.  And the filling was pure comfort food perfection: an amazing mix of nicely spiced beef, perfectly cooked veggies, zingy sauce, and abundantly gooey cheese.

Mister Frenchie

Oh, and there are fries in there as well — I’m normally not crazy about potatoes in a sandwich/wrap, but the fries here add substance without getting in the way or calling attention to themselves.  The whole thing is ridiculously satisfying.

Alas, the fries on the side didn’t work nearly as well as the fries in the wrap.  They were undercooked, the herb mixture they were tossed in was overbearing, and the sauce on top was way too zesty to work as a dipping sauce.

Which is fine — the wrap is a perfectly satisfying meal on its own.  Plus, it’s way heavier than it looks.  It’s a bit of a gut-buster.

Problematic Gelato at Kekou Gelato

Kekou GelatoLocation: 394 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.kekou.ca/

Though ice cream and gelato joints serving Asian-inspired flavours seem to be popping up on an almost weekly basis, I’m pretty sure Kekou is the OG.  It might not be the pioneer in the city, but it was definitely one of the first.

They have a variety of unique flavours like black sesame, Vietnamese coffee, and durian (and they must also be doing other things with durian, because the place kinda reeks of the stuff).

Kekou Gelato

I went with rosewater pistachio, and the flavour was superb.  The balance between the nutty pistachio and the fragrant rosewater was just right; neither flavour overwhelmed the other, and they complimented each other perfectly.

The texture, however, was a bit of an issue.  It wasn’t icy, but it had a thin mouthfeel and a distinct lack of creaminess that was unsatisfying.

Kekou Gelato

The funny thing is, they actually have a sign up in the store explaining that the thin texture is intentional — it is, they claim, a side-effect of the gelato’s lack of stabilizers.

A couple of things about this:

1)

2) Even if this is true — that it’s impossible to make creamy gelato without the use of stabilizers, and that every luxuriously creamy gelato I’ve ever had (both here and in Italy) used some form of chemical magic for its rich texture — then maybe stabilizers are just part of making high quality gelato?

Again, I’m skeptical that this is the case, but I’m sure that making truly great gelato is a skill that takes years to master.  If your gelato-making know-how isn’t advanced enough to make it creamy without using stabilizers, then here’s an idea: use stabilizers.  Is the ability to smugly claim that your gelato is stabilizer-free really worth selling a subpar product?

It’s not a huge deal — and I’ve certainly had worse — but the fact that they’re coming right out and admitting that they’re selling inferior gelato on purpose is a little bit frustrating.