Quality Noodle Soup at Big Beef Bowl

Big Beef BowlLocation: 8362 Kennedy Road, Unionville
Website: None

Big Beef Bowl is another place that serves fresh, chewy noodles, which means I’m pretty much going to love it by default.  I’m very easy to please when it comes to a big bowl of delicious noodles.

Big Beef Bowl

I got the braised beef brisket noodles, which comes with your choice from six types of noodles: round or flat, with three thicknesses each.  I got the round noodles in a medium thickness.  And they were great — they might have been ever-so-slightly too soft, but they were otherwise hearty and chewy and satisfying.

Big Beef Bowl

The soup itself wasn’t anything too special, but it got the job done.  It was a bit spicy by default, but was improved immeasurably by a few hearty spoonfuls of the chili oil they’ve got on the table.  You always have to be careful with that particular condiment, because depending on the place, its spiciness ranges from a moderate tingle to volcano hot.   The one at Big Beef Bowl isn’t particularly spicy, but it has a satisfying toasty flavour that really improves the soup.

There were also several chunks of fatty, immensely tender beef brisket.  I could have eaten a whole pile of these.

Satisfying Grilled Cheese at the RH Courtyard Cafe

RH Courtyard CafeLocation: 3401 Dufferin Street, North York (inside Yorkdale Mall)
Websitehttps://www.restorationhardware.com/content/category.jsp?context=TorontoCafe

Since I’ve already established that the restaurant at the Restoration Hardware in Yorkdale is better than it has any right to be (I was shocked at how decent the burger was), it shouldn’t be a surprise that the grilled cheese is quite tasty.

It’s a classic, no-frills grilled cheese.  This is a dish that a lot of places feel the need to gussy up, with toppings and condiments aplenty.  But grilled cheese is perfect on its own; all you need is good quality bread, cheese, and a whole bunch of butter.  No ornamentation is necessary.

RH Courtyard Cafe

And that’s exactly what the RH Courtyard Cafe gives you: the cheddar cheese is sharp and gooey, and the bread has the perfect amount of substance, with a crispy exterior and a soft interior.

It’s also ridiculously buttery, as it should be; if you can hold a grilled cheese sandwich without your hands instantly becoming slippery with grease, then you need to throw it right in the garbage.  It’s worthless.

But then there’s the price.  It’s 19 bucks.  As good as it is (and it’s quite good), it’s still just a grilled cheese sandwich, which might be the easiest (and cheapest) thing in the world to make.  So it’s hard to justify spending that much on it.

Decent Eats at Olde Yorke Fish & Chips

Olde York Fish & ChipsLocation: 96 Laird Drive, Toronto
Websitehttps://oldeyorkefishandchips.com/

Everyone loves fish and chips, don’t they?  It’s one of those universally appealing meals that’s hard to truly hate.  I mean, it’s a big old plate of deep fried goodness.

But it’s surprisingly difficult to find a place that does it really well (without a plane ticket to the UK, at least).  It’s such a simple dish, but sometimes the simplest meals are the toughest to pull off.  It’s just fish and batter; if your technique isn’t perfect, there’s nowhere to hide.

Olde York Fish & Chips

I got the haddock and chips from Olde York, and while it was certainly tasty, there were a couple of things holding it back from being much better than okay.

A lot of fish and chips joints tend drop the ball with the batter itself; so many places over-apply it, resulting in a thick and crunchy shell that overwhelms the fish.  And while Olde York isn’t the worst offender in this regard, the batter was definitely too substantial.

Olde York Fish & Chips

It’s also easy to overcook the fish, and alas, that was an issue here as well.  It wasn’t too blatant, but it was dryer than it should have been.

I don’t want to make this a complain-a-thon, because I actually did enjoy it… but the fries could have been crispier and the tartar sauce was way too sweet.

But that’s the thing about fish and chips: even when it’s not perfect, it’s still so satisfying.

Satisfying Noodle Soup at GB Hand-Pulled Noodles

GB Hand-Pulled NoodlesLocation: 66 Edward Street, Toronto
Website: None

I’ve mentioned before that chewy hand-pulled noodles are basically the best thing ever.  That continues to be true.  That’ll be true forever.  Hundreds of years from now, when the robots complete their bloody uprising and have wiped out the human race, it’ll continue to be true.  Even robots will enjoy hand-pulled noodles.  Because they’re the best.

And if you’re craving hand-pulled noodles and don’t feel like venturing out into the ‘burbs, you could certainly do worse than GB Hand-Pulled Noodles.

GB Hand-Pulled Noodles

They have a few things on the menu, though the main attraction here is the noodle soup.  You can choose your noodle thickness from seven (!) different options, which range from “super thin” to “extremely wide.”  I went with narrow thick, which is right in the middle.

The soup itself is fine, though it is a bit one-note salty (no one around me finished their broth, nor did I).  The prodigious amount of tasty chili oil that they serve it with certainly helps, but it’s clear that the soup is more of a vehicle for the noodles than something anyone would particularly enjoy on its own.

GB Hand-Pulled Noodles

Aside from the noodles, the other highlight is the thinly-sliced beef, which is tender and flavourful.  The beef at noodle joints like this tends to be hit-and-miss, so I appreciated the level of quality here.

But of course, the reason you’re here is those noodles, which get expertly pulled in full view of the dining room.

GB Hand-Pulled Noodles

The narrow thick noodles that I picked basically look like a particularly weighty spaghetti.  They were chewy, toothsome, and outstanding.  Even by the standards of hand-pulled noodles, these were particularly firm and substantial; I was on the fence about them at first, but they quickly won me over.

Kebab 49: Still Great

Kebab 49Location: 5308 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://kebab49.com/

I’ve actually already written about Kebab 49, so I’m going to keep this post brief.  That was a couple of years ago, and the place is still chugging along, serving some of the best doner in the city.

Yes: Kebab 49 is still great.  On this particular visit I got the durum wrap with lamb and veal (durum is a Turkish flatbread; Kebab 49 makes it in-house in their wood-burning oven, and it’s chewy and fresh and amazing).

Kebab 49

The lamb and veal doner is outstanding.  A lot of shawarama/doner tends to be a bit dry, but not here — there’s just enough fat mixed in to keep things from drying out.  It’s perfectly seasoned, and the distinctive lamby flavour really shines through.

But the best part are all the crispy bits from where the rotating stack of meat has come into contact with the fire.  This is how you know you’re dealing with a place that knows what’s what.  Way too many restaurants start carving too soon, and you end up with sad, soggy meat.  Not Kebab 49.  You can’t really tell from the photo, but there were delicious crispy bits interspersed throughout the entire wrap.  It was glorious.