Asian Fusion at the Smorgasburg Food Festival

Nozomi at SmorgasburgLocation: 7 Queens Quay East, Toronto
Website: https://www.smorgasburgtoronto.com/

If you haven’t checked it out yet, Smorgasburg is a local offshoot of an American outdoor food festival, and finds a whole bunch of tasty-looking eats crammed together near the waterfront.  The vendors have been curated by food writer Suresh Doss, which means that unlike at a lot of food festivals like this, it’s a safe bet that everything is as good as it looks.  And there’s a lot of good-looking food on offer, with dozens of vendors each serving up a handful of tempting dishes.

Nozomi at Smorgasburg

I got a couple of things from Nozomi, who describe themselves as serving “Asian inspired comfort food,” and yeah, it was top-notch.

Nozomi at Smorgasburg

I tried a couple of things.  First up is the bulgogi kimchi cheesesteak, which is exactly what you want it to be.  Sometimes fusion dishes can feel a bit like they’re cramming together two things that probably didn’t need to be combined, but everything here really works: the flavourful beef, the gooey cheese, and the zingy kimchi all go perfectly together.  The soft roll does a great job of holding it all together without getting in the way.  It’s a great dish.

Nozomi at Smorgasburg

The other thing I tried is a dish they call “pocos,” which based on my attempts to google this, seems to be something they made up.  It’s basically a poke taco (it’s filled with salmon and seaweed), but with a crispy wonton-style shell instead of a tortilla.  It’s super tasty, with the tenderness of the sauce-coated salmon contrasting very nicely with the crispy shell.  Like with the cheesesteak, it takes something that could have come off as gimmicky and unnecessary, and makes it absolutely delightful.

A Pleasant Cheesy Scone from Prairie Boy Bread

Prairie Boy Bread
Location
: 201 Geary Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.instagram.com/prairieboybread/

I mainly came to Prairie Boy to try the double-fermented multigrain sourdough, which Toronto Life recently called one of the best loaves of bread in the city.  And yeah, that’s a serious loaf of bread; it’s dense, hearty, and has a delightfully aggressive sourdough flavour, with a sour tang that’s almost too intense (tang for days!).   It’s very good.

Prairie Boy Bread

(Alas, I completely forgot to take a photo, so you’ll have to use your imagination; it’s round, rustic, and seriously seedy.)

I figured I’d try one of their pastries while I was there, so I went with the cheesy scone.  I wish they had heated this up, or served it fresher, because it was a bit clammy.  But aside from that it was quite tasty, with a nice buttery flavour and a good amount of cheese.

Prairie Boy Bread

Also, I don’t think this bakery has any affiliation with the sadly departed Prairie Girl Bakery, but man, remember that place??  Because I do.  RIP.

Decent Ice Cream at West End Waffles and Scoops

West End Waffles and Scoops
Location
: 499 Runnymede Road, Toronto
Website: https://www.instagram.com/westendwafflesandscoops/

I generally don’t pay much attention to ice cream shops that don’t make their own ice cream, but I figured I’d give West End Waffles and Scoops a shot.  They serve Shaw’s Ice Cream, an Ontario-based company that seemed like it might be a bit more interesting than the usual Kawartha or Nestle.

West End Waffles and Scoops

Outside of the ice cream, I think West End Waffles and Scoops makes pretty much everything else from scratch, including waffles, sauces, cookies, and cones.  I went pretty simple, however, and just got a scoop of Grammy’s Cupboard, which features a vanilla base with brownie pieces, cookie dough chunks, and peanut butter swirled throughout.

It’s not bad.  It’s not on the level of the better places in the GTA, but the ice cream is nice and creamy with plenty of tasty mix-ins, and a clear step up from something you’d find in a supermarket freezer.

Quick Bites: Churnt Up, Nord Lyon, Canada’s Wonderland

Churnt Up
Cinnamon Toast Crunch ice cream at Churnt Up

I decided recently that if I eat something I don’t particularly enjoy, I’m not going to write all that much about it — I think there’s enough negativity in the world, and I’d rather spend my energy focusing on stuff I like rather than stuff I don’t.  That being said, I’ll say that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a great flavour for ice cream, and I’ll leave it at that.

Nord Lyon
Strawberry croissant at Nord Lyon

The strawberry croissant at Nord Lyon is named after the bakery; it’s always a safe bet to order a restaurant’s namesake dish, and in this case, the croissant has a nice buttery flavour and a healthy amount of sweet strawberry jam.  It was pretty stale when I tried it, but maybe you’ll have better luck?

Funnel cake at Canada's Wonderland
Funnel cake at Canada’s Wonderland

It turns out that Canada’s Wonderland is actually pretty boring for food — at least half of the eateries are locations of Pizza Pizza or Subway, and the rest all serve stuff like burgers and chicken strips, with almost none of the over-the-top carnival-style fun you might expect.  But!  They still serve funnel cakes — topped with soft serve and a chunky strawberry sauce — and they’re just as good as you remember.  No… better.  If there’s a better combo than fresh fried dough, creamy ice cream, and sweet strawberry sauce, I’d like to hear about it.

Tasty, Meaty tacos at Gus Tacos

Gus Tacos
Location
: 1533 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://tacosgus.ca/

Gus Tacos have three locations in the GTA; they’re clearly successful for a reason.  My tacos were great, and my dining companion raved about his burrito.  Supposedly, the tortas are quite good as well.  Clearly, I need to come back.

The woman behind the counter mentioned that the barbacoa (braised lamb) taco is their most popular choice; I ordered that along with the chilorio, which turned out to be very similar to the barbacoa, but with pork.  Probably not the best two choices, as they were both along the same lines — but when the tacos are this delicious, it really doesn’t matter.

The tortillas were obviously fresh, which is a must, and while both tacos were tasty, the barbacoa wasn’t kidding around.  If you like the slightly gamy flavour of lamb, this is absolutely the taco for you.  It’s super tender, flavourful, and thoroughly delicious.  So good.