Quick Bites: Aquarela Restaurant, Hey Noodles, Good Taste Casserole Rice

Aquarela Restaurant
Mofongo at Aquarela Restaurant

After realizing that I had never tried mofongo — a Puerto Rican dish in which plantain is mashed with garlic and crispy pork skin — I quickly discovered that Aquarela is pretty much the only game in town.  Thankfully, they seem to be doing a pretty great job of carrying the torch for the dish in the GTA; I have nothing to compare it to, but it’s tasty, that’s for sure.  It’s rich, creamy, garlicky and abundantly delicious.  It’s kinda like mashed potatoes on steroids.  It also comes with your choice of meat; I went with the crispy pork belly, and yeah, that’s a great combo.  Something to cut through the plate’s overwhelming fatty richness would have been nice, but that’s a minor complaint for a very tasty dish.

Hey Noodles
Noodle Soup at Hey Noodles

The noodles at Hey Noodles are great (as you’d hope for from a place with “noodles” right in the name of the restaurant), but what really blew my mind was the price.  I ordered the Chongqing Street Noodles, which is a very large bowl of soup that’s absolutely crammed with noodles, and that somehow only costs $6.99.  The egg was an extra dollar, but even still, that’s a fantastic deal, especially considering how tasty it is.  The noodles are nice and chewy, and the soup is delightfully zingy, with that addictive combo of spiciness and numbing heat that you get in this style of Chinese cuisine.

Good Taste Casserole Rice
Clay pot rice at Good Taste Casserole Rice

Clay pot rice is an extremely simple dish — it’s basically just plain white rice that’s topped with meat and cooked in the eponymous pot, which makes the bottom layer of rice nice and crispy.  It’s simple, but immensely satisfying when done well.  The one I ordered was  topped with eel and various meats and sausages, and yeah, it’s super satisfying.  The fluffy/crispy rice, the tasty meats, and the sauce they have on the side (which was in a soy sauce container, but I’m fairly certain was more than just soy sauce) was a great combo.

A Decent Cheeseburger at Matty’s Patty’s

Matty's Patty's
Location
: 923a Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.mattyspattysburgerclub.com/

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first.  This place is called Matty’s Patty’s, but should clearly be called Matty’s Patties.  Apostrophes: they’re not that complicated!  Maybe spend the five minutes it would take to figure out how they work before you name your restaurant?

You might argue that the name is wrong on purpose because it looks better, since both words are so similar, to which I would reply that no, you need to get out of here with that.  That’s BS and we all know it.

You might also argue that no one cares, and that maybe I should be talking about the food, since that’s the point of this whole thing.  And yeah, that’s fair.

Matty's Patty's

The food is fine!  They have two main things on the menu: “Matty’s,” which is a hefty seven ounce burger that comes with mustard sauce, pickles, and onion.  I tried this about a year ago, when this blog was on hiatus, and enjoyed it.

The other thing on the menu is “Patty’s,” which is a more traditional griddle-smashed cheeseburger that you can get as a single, a double, or a triple (a vegetarian version made with Impossible Meat is also an option).  This one comes topped with either Matty’s Patty’s sauce, pickled jalapeno mayo, or spicy ketchup sauce.  I went with the single and had it topped with pickled jalapeno mayo.

Matty's Patty's

It’s pretty decent.  Nothing about it blew me away, but the patty has a very mild beefy flavour and a nice texture thanks to the course grind.  It could stand to be beefier and juicier, but you could absolutely do worse.

The pickled jalapeno mayo mostly just tasted like a slightly zingier version of regular mayo, which is too bad because the burger really needed something a bit more acidic to cut through the richness of the gooey cheese and the patty.

The bun was probably the highlight, oddly enough.  It was super soft, squishy, and fresh, with just the right amount of heft to stand up to the patty.  It kinda reminded me of the potato rolls that have become so popular in the GTA, but better.

Top Notch Pizza at North of Brooklyn

North of Brooklyn
Location
: 229 Geary Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.northofbrooklyn.com/

Though I’m all about the simple joys of a margherita pizza, occasionally, a more interesting assortment of toppings can be just what the doctor ordered.  Case in point: the Green Out pizza at North of Brooklyn, which comes topped with “Mozzarella, Spring Cream, Spinach, Semi-Dried Tomatoes, Salsa Verde, Pecorino.”  It’s about as far from the simplicity of a margherita pizza that you can get, but it’s so, so good.

North of Brooklyn

“Green” is right there in the name, and yeah, the abundant spinach and herby spring cream (which is basically cream with herbs mixed in) definitely gives the pizza a verdant glow.  It looks like it might be overwhelming, but it’s just right — the tender spinach balances so well with all the other ingredients.

North of Brooklyn

The hearty spinach, the pops of sweetness from the tomatoes, the zinginess from the salsa verde, the gooiness of the mozzarella, and the saltiness of the pecorino is just a perfect storm of deliciousness.  It’s surprisingly great.

North of Brooklyn

But a pizza lives and dies by its crust, and that’s where this thing really shines.  It’s super thin and crispy, but not even remotely crackery — it’s got a great balance of chewiness and crispiness, with a surprising amount of substance given how thin it is, and a great flavour.  It helps that it’s perfectly cooked, with a nice even char that never overwhelms.  The toppings are all extremely tasty, but it’s the superlative crust that really puts this in the pizza stratosphere.

Quick Bites: King’s Tacos, Bakerbots Baking, Hanyang Jokbal

King's Tacos
Tacos at King’s Tacos

The most interesting thing about the tacos at Kings Tacos might just be the way they serve them — an order comes with a very generous platter of meat (in this case the King’s Special, which comes with pork, beef, chorizo, onion, bacon, and cheese) and tortillas on the side, and you build it yourself.  It’s interesting, and it’s a great value, because that pile of meat is not kidding around.  That’s not to mention the very generous bowl of free (and tasty!) tortilla chips and sauces that comes with the meal.  It’s not just a good value, however: it’s quite tasty, too.

Bakerbots
Cinnamon Bun at Bakerbots Baking

I’ve heard the cinnamon bun at Bakerbots referred to as one of the best in the city, and yeah, that sounds about right.  It’s absolutely fantastic, with a slightly crispy exterior and a gooey (but not overly gooey and sweet, like a Cinnabon) interior.  The pastry itself is top-notch, with a nice chewy texture and a flavour that ensures that the cinnamon bun isn’t just one-note sweet.  Is it the best in the city?  It could be!

Hanyang Jokbal
Jokbal at Hanyang Jokbal

I mean, look at that glorious pile of pork.  Do you even need me to say anything?  Jokbal is a Korean dish featuring braised pig trotters; I tried the half and half, which is half jokbal and half bossam (pork belly, if I recall correctly).  You eat it wrapped in lettuce with some of the tasty sides and condiments on the table, and yeah.  It’s delicious.  Again: look at it.

Tasty Noodle Soup at Szechuan Noodle Bowl

Szechuan Noodle Bowl
Location
: 400 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Website: https://szechuannoodlebowl.com/

Look, I’m a simple man.  If you slap a bowl of freshly-made noodles in front of me, my level of happiness is going to go up by like a hundred percent.  Szechuan Noodle Bowl — which, as the name implies, specializes in bowls of freshly-made noodles — makes me a happy man.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

I ordered the Hand-Made Noodles, which comes spicy or non-spicy with your choice of topping (beef, ground pork, pork intestines, Chinese pickle, or chicken).  I went spicy with ground pork, and yeah, it’s good.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

Those noodles are great — they’re thick, chewy, and satisfying.  The soup is mildly spicy and has a nice zippy flavour, and the generous amount of tasty ground pork complements it perfectly.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

I wish there had been some chili oil on the table — the soup was spicy, but could have been kicked up a bit — but aside from that it was a top-notch bowl of noodles.