A Mind-blowing Chocolate Babka from Boulangerie Cheskie

Boulangerie Cheskie
Location
: 359 Rue Bernard Ouest, Montreal, Quebec
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheskies/133884676726138

Every time I’ve had a babka or a babka-like dessert, it’s been okay at best (or much, much worse — the chocolate buffalo from Bagel Nash comes to mind).  So I didn’t have particularly high hopes for the chocolate babka at Boulangerie Cheskie, but after seeing it on a few lists of the best bakeries in Montreal, I figured I’d give it a shot.

Boulangerie Cheskie

I guess I’m going to have to start figuring out where the best babka in Toronto can be procured, because who knew a babka could be this good??

It’s outstanding.  I wish I had taken a picture of its glorious, glorious innards, because you really don’t get a sense of how incredible this thing is just by looking at the outside.  It’s chewy, fresh, and amazingly fudgy– Eater referred to it as “the love child of a brownie and brioche roll,” and yeah, that’s about right.  It’s gooey and chocolatey and addictive.

Boulangerie Cheskie

I guess I’m glad that this bakery is several hundred kilometres away, because I could eat about a million of these.  As soon as I finished it I was extremely tempted to head back inside and buy another one, but there was other food to eat, so I restrained myself.

Delicious Pastries at Choux Lab

Choux Lab
Location
: 386 Royal York Road, Toronto
Website: None

Remember Beard Papa?  Because I certainly do!  That was (and still is, though their only Canadian locations are in Vancouver) a delightful Japanese chain that specialized in delicious cream puffs.  They used to have a location in the Pacific Mall, but then they broke hearts across the GTA by shutting down like a bunch of jerks.

Sadly, there’s no indication that they’re coming back anytime soon, but in the meanwhile, we’ve got Choux Lab.

Choux Lab

Choux Lab serves up choux pastries (which are light and fluffy, with a crispy exterior) with a variety of fillings.  The vanilla is probably the most Beard-Papa-esque, but they were actually handing out samples of that one, and it was delicious (and indeed, did remind me of Beard Papa, with a creamy, custardy filling), so I figured I’d order something else.

Choux Lab

I went with the hazelnut, and it was very, very good.  The filling was rich and ultra-creamy, with a great hazelnut flavour and a nice balance of sweetness — sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.  Beard Papa used to fill their puffs to order, and I was worried that the pre-made ones they serve here might lack that great crispy/fluffy/creamy combo.  But the one I tried wasn’t soggy at all, and all the textures were right where they should be.

Choux Lab

Choux Lab is just a few stores over from San Remo, and I worry that everyone will just stick with the reliable deliciousness there and not give this place a shot.  But everyone needs to check this place out; I need them to stick around forever and not break my heart like Beard Papa did.

Tasty Sweet Buns at Akko Cake House

Akko Cake House
Location
: 4040 Creditview Road #1, Mississauga
Website: None

Akko Cake House is a bit oddly named.  They do have a handful of cakes at the front, but mostly, this is a fairly standard Chinese bakery with a whole bunch of sweet and savoury buns and tarts.

Akko Cake House

I tried a few sweet buns: coconut, custard, and walnut.

The pastry itself was quite good — it was fresh, a little bit sweet, and super fluffy.

Akko Cake House

I was intrigued about the walnut variety; I don’t recall ever seeing a walnut bun before, and I’ve certainly never tried one.  It was fairly subtle, however, with a very thin layer of  walnut paste and a few walnut chunks.  It tasted more like a plain bun with a mild walnut flavour.

Akko Cake House

The custard was about what you’d expect.  It was sweet, creamy, and tasty.

Akko Cake House

The coconut bun was where it was at.  The generous filling was really tasty, with a nice coconut flavour.   It also has a surprisingly strong hit of salt that does a great job of rounding out the  sweetness.  It’s really good.  The bakery was packed (the line was to the door when I left), and with buns that good, it’s easy enough to see why.

A Delicious Butter Tart at Kate’s Town Talk Bakery

Kate's Town Talk Bakery
Location
: 206C Queen Street South, Streetsville
Website: https://www.katestowntalk.ca/

It’s always a good sign when a bakery puts one of their pastries in a paper bag and it becomes translucent with buttery goodness.  If the paper bag looks pristine?  Sorry, that pastry probably sucks.  I don’t make the rules.

Kate's Town Talk Bakery

Though they have an assortment of sweet and savoury pastries, the specialty at Kate’s Town Talk Bakery is clearly the butter tart, which you can get with pecans, raisins, raspberry Nutella, or on its own.

Kate's Town Talk Bakery

I got the pecan variety, and oh man, it’s good.  The sign outside says that the butter tarts here “rival the best you’ve ever tasted,” and you know what?  They’re not wrong.  I wish the filling were a bit gooier, but other than that it’s basically butter tart perfection: the crust is perfectly flaky, the filling has a great toffee-like flavour, and it’s got those great crispy caramelized edges that are pretty much irresistible.

Kate's Town Talk Bakery

I’m not sure that it’s the best best butter tart that I’ve ever had, but it’s right up there, that’s for sure.

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.