Location: 9255 Woodbine Avenue, Markham
If you’re looking for bang for your buck, you’re not going to do much better than Ho Garden, a delightful Hong Kong-style diner in Markham. I ordered the egg sandwich, which comes with a generous bowl of noodle soup with beef, and a mug of milk tea. The price? Seven bucks. Delightful.
I was a little bit skeptical about the egg sandwich, but aside from the fact that it’s a Hong Kong comfort food staple, a friend strongly recommended it.
I’ll admit it — I was wrong to be skeptical. It was surprisingly delicious.
It’s the definition of simplicity: it’s just a plain omelette served inside of crustless white bread. No mayonnaise, no condiments — just eggs, salt, and untoasted bread. Sounds way too plain, right? Wrong.
The eggs were fluffy, creamy, and perfectly cooked, and the slightly sweet, light-as-a-cloud bread complimented them perfectly. Considering its utter simplicity, it was shockingly good.
The noodles — which feature a generous amount of toothsome noodles in a flavourful, slightly spicy broth, topped with tender beef — were quite tasty as well, but it’s that egg sandwich that was clearly the star of the show.
Location: 85 Ellesmere Road, Scarborough
This is it — my final stop on the McDonald’s World Taste Tour. It’s been fun? I guess?
Well, the McFlurry was pretty good, at least.
And the Mexican Bacon Queso More-Ning McWrap isn’t bad. It consists of bacon, scrambled eggs, lettuce, tomato, and queso sauce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.
The biggest surprise here is the generous serving of scrambled eggs, which are actually pretty well prepared. You kind of assume it’s going to be dry and rubbery, but shockingly enough, it’s neither of those things. They weren’t the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had, but they were tasty.
And while the queso sauce didn’t taste particularly cheesy — it tasted more like a zesty mayo — it did a good job of brightening up the eggs and adding a very minor dose of spice.
The biggest issue here is something you (probably) won’t have to worry about. There wasn’t any bacon. I kept thinking the bacon would reveal itself in the next bite, or that it was all clustered at the end of the wrap, but it was MIA throughout. By the time I realized that the wrap was bacon-free, I was too lazy to get up and do something about it.
I’m actually impressed that I enjoyed this as much as I did, considering that one of the primary ingredients was missing (it’s right there in the name).
Location: 9665 Bayview Avenue, Richmond Hill
I really like dim sum. It’s like brunch, but way more interesting. There are only so many times you can have eggs benedict or pancakes before they start to bore you. When that happens, the cavalcade of dumplings, buns, and other tasty bites at a dim sum joint are just what the doctor ordered.
And Yang’s Fine Chinese Cuisine in Richmond Hill (not to be confused with Yang’s Chinese Cuisine in Markham) is quite good.
I mean, look at all that stuff. If you can tell me you don’t want to eat all of that right now, then you and me are two very different people.
These little balls of shrimp surrounded by crunchy almond slivers might have been my favourite dish of the day. The shrimp had a really great texture, and the crispiness and nuttiness of the exterior complimented it perfectly.
And these pork buns? Chicken and waffles wish they could nail the sweet/salty combo as well as these little guys.
Location: 85 Hanna Avenue, Toronto
I don’t want to get too hyperbolic here, but I’m fairly certain that I’ve seen the pancakes from Mildred’s Temple Kitchen about four billion times on Instagram. They pop up on my feed at least once a week. It’s hard to get a big group of people to agree on anything, but everyone is quite unanimous regarding the greatness of the pancakes here.
They’re not wrong.
The pancakes (dubbed Mrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes) have a really appealing balance of fluffiness and substance, with a lightly crispy exterior that’s unlike any pancake I’ve had before. The texture is almost like an incredibly light and fluffy biscuit.
It’s possible that something had gone a bit wrong, because I suspect they’re not supposed to be this crispy on their exterior (the bottom pancake in the pile was downright crunchy). And yet somehow it totally works.
The flavour is great, too — the pancakes are slightly tart from the buttermilk, with the perfect amount of sweetness from the blueberries and the maple syrup. The whipped cream adds a nice little punch of additional richness, and helps to bring all of the flavours together.
My only complaint? It’s an excessive amount of food. I wish there were a one or two pancake option, because these things are substantial, and they sit in your stomach like a ton of bricks. It’s great while you’re eating them, and unpleasant for the rest of the day.
Location: 77 Kensington Avenue, Toronto
It seems like every few months, some new food trend sweeps its way through the city. In the last couple of years we’ve had stuff like poke, chicken and waffles, Japanese cheesecakes, and sushi burritos. The latest seems to be souffle pancakes, a Japanese dessert that’s exactly what it sounds like (a cross between pancakes and souffle).
If what they’re serving at Hanabusa Cafe is any indication, this is a trend that I can get behind.
My only other experience with this dish was at a place called am.pm in Hong Kong, and that version was dense, overly eggy, and just all-around unappealing.
The one at Hanabusa Cafe, on the other hand, was the polar opposite — it was almost absurdly fluffy, with a mild sweetness and a satisfying custardy flavour without any of the in-your-face egginess you might be expecting. I ordered the Original Pancake, which is the simplest choice: it’s three pancakes topped with a dollop of whipped cream and served with a side of strawberries and blackberries. It’s outstanding.
Unlike a traditional pancake, it’s already fairly sweet, so it’s perfectly delicious on its own. I could eat about a million of these (though they’re surprisingly heavy, so three feels like a good number). The ethereal lightness combined with the custardy flavour is seriously addictive.
I’ll admit that my expectations weren’t all that high, but I really, really enjoyed this.