Location: 195 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
McDonald’s has just started a “World Taste Tour,” in which they’re offering items loosely inspired by China, Australia, Italy, France, and Mexico.
I’m not gonna lie — I get more excited than I should probably admit when fast food joints (McDonald’s in particular) do silly promos like this. I can travel the world? Via McDonald’s? Sign me up!
They’re staggering them out over the next couple of months, but the first burger they’re offering is the Chinese Szechuan Burger, which is topped with Szechuan sauce (no, not the Szechuan sauce that caused Rick and Morty fans to lose their minds — a different Szechuan sauce), crispy wontons, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and mayo.
It’s not the best. The biggest issue here is the patty itself. It’s the luck of the draw, of course; you might get a relatively fresh patty, or you might get one that’s been sitting in the meat drawer for a while. On this particular visit, I got the latter. It was super dry, even by McDonald’s not-so-great standards.
Everything else was decent. The Szechuan sauce is basically just a vaguely spicy version of a typical Asian sesame dressing — it’s sweet, with a sesame-infused flavour and a spice level that’s so mild you’ll question that it’s even there.
The crispy wontons add a nice hit of texture to the burger, and the grilled onions are actually quite tasty. The whole thing would have fine if it weren’t for that patty — but it was surprisingly substantial and dry AF.
Location: 160 Baldwin Street, Toronto
I was still hungry after the horrifying abomination I was served at Kiss the Tiramisu; I couldn’t eat more than a third of it. So I went a couple of stores down to Little Pebbles, a great little Japanese cafe in Kensington Market.
They have the usual assortment of coffees to pick from, as well as a variety of French/Japanese-inspired baked goods. I went with the Strawberry Sakura Mont Blanc, which features an almond-infused crust, pastry cream, a whole strawberry, and strawberry mont blanc cream.
Maybe I was just happy to eat something that wasn’t disgusting, but I really enjoyed this. The nutty crust was tasty, the whole strawberry was sweet and ripe, and the mont blanc cream did a really great job of balancing the chestnut flavour you’d expect with something a bit fruitier.
The whole thing was quite subdued in its flavours, but it all worked really well. I’d definitely like to come back here and try some of their other offerings, because everything looked really good.
Location: 160 Baldwin Street, Toronto
I don’t want to be too hyperbolic, but I think the sundae at Kiss the Tiramisu in Kensington Market might be the worst thing I’ve ever been served in a restaurant. Certainly, it’s right down there.
To be fair, they were clearly having issues. Shortly after I ordered, the woman behind the counter attempted to dispense ice cream from the machine; pure liquid came out. She looked shifty and then told me I’d have to wait five minutes.
A smarter man would have asked for his money back and left. Clearly, I am not a smart man.
The ice cream is layered with coffee, some kind of white sauce (mascarpone?), and a whole bunch of cocoa powder. It’s absolutely terrible.
I’m really not sure what that vile, sludgy glop was, but it certainly wasn’t ice cream. That’s not even a joke: it was thin and lacking anything even remotely resembling creaminess. I’m almost certain it didn’t have the proportion of milk fat that is legally required for something to be called ice cream. It was also grainy and icy, so it was pretty much the worst.
The flavour was no better; I find a lot of ice creams are a little bit too sweet for my taste. I had the opposite problem here. This was bland and horrible, with a vague milkiness and and unpleasantly watered-down bitter coffee flavour that was downright repulsive. There was also an insane amount of cocoa mounded onto this thing, which just made it impossible to eat without getting powder all over the place.
Despite spending well over seven bucks (!), I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. It was so bad.
Seriously: I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about Sweet Jesus. I certainly have issues with the place, but at least what they’re serving is actual ice cream that isn’t gross.
Location: 4333 Bloor Street West, Etobicoke
I like McDonald’s. The place tends to get a bad rap, but if you’re craving something junky and quick, it (usually) hits the spot. I’m sure a childhood’s worth of nostalgia helps, but there’s always going to be a place in my life for the occasional visit to the Golden Arches.
That being said, the Egg BLT Bagel was super duper gross and you should absolutely never eat it.
I got it on a plain bagel, which was overly sweet and substantial. The egg was dry and overcooked, the bacon was paper-thin and soggy, the lettuce was so stingy that it may as well not have even been there, and the mayo overload meant it was impossible to eat without making a greasy mess. There just wasn’t a whole lot of flavour here, other than the sweetness from the bagel.
The tomato was okay, though, so… hooray for that, I guess?
Location: 2853 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Well, I’ve now tried everything on the menu at Chica’s Chicken, which means I can say the following with a reasonable amount of authority: it’s the best. The literal best.
I honestly can’t recall having better fried chicken anywhere in the city. It’s everything you’re looking for: it’s got that amazing crispy crunch, it’s so damn tasty, and the chicken itself is ridiculously moist. Perfection.
I got the wings this time; an order comes with four giant wings, and it’s an absurd amount of food. They don’t cut the wings into segments like most places — it feels like a pain at first, but it gives you more of that crispy, crunchy skin.
You also get a side, and two slices of plain white bread. For 16 bucks, it’s a absolute steal considering the quantity and quality of the food.
Sorry, every other chicken wing I’ve ever had: you’re absolute garbage compared to what Chica’s is serving.
I got it hot AF; as on my previous visits, they aren’t kidding around with the heat. It hurts so good.
I think I’m ready to install a cot in the back of the restaurant so that I can eat all my meals here. Will I die of a massive heart attack by my 40th birthday? Probably. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.