Location: 780 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga
Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice is a Chinese chain that recently opened seven simultaneous locations in the GTA. Opening one restaurant is tricky enough; I can’t even imagine what must go into opening so many at the same time.
Whatever kinks they had (and there must have been kinks) since opening in September have clearly been worked out; the food and service were both top-notch. Apparently they have over six thousand locations worldwide, so I guess opening seven more is no big deal.
As you can probably guess from the name, Yang’s specializes in braised chicken rice, a dish in which tender, saucy braised chicken is served with a bowl of rice.
You can either get it standard or boneless (I went with the former), and you can pick your spice level (I picked “authentic,” which was actually quite mild; I’ll probably go spicier next time).
It seemed a bit simple at first, but it really grew on me; by the time I was done, I was 100 percent into it.
The chicken is quite tender, and has a nice soy-sauce-infused flavour from the braising liquid. Combined with the rice and the richly flavourful sauce, it’s surprisingly addictive.
Oddly enough, however, the chicken wasn’t the highlight — it was the slices of mushroom in the sauce. These things do an amazing job of soaking up all the flavour from the dish; they’re basically chewy little flavour bombs. They’re delightful.
Location: 165 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
I’ll admit it: I was quite impressed by the Apple Crumble Sundae from McDonald’s. I really enjoyed it.
It’s quite simple: vanilla soft serve layered with spiced apple topping, and sprinkled with with cinnamon oat crumble.
The spiced apple topping is essentially apple pie filling, with a decent amount of small apple chunks. It’s a little bit tart, which works well with the very sweet crumble and ice cream.
The crumble is a little bit too hard and crunchy, but it has a satisfying brown sugar flavour that compliments the apple topping and the ice cream nicely.
The ice cream is the ice cream. If you need me to describe McDonald’s soft serve for you, I really don’t know what you’re doing here.
There’s not much more to say about it than that. It tastes like an apple crumble in sundae form. It’s exactly what you want it to be.
Location: 1900 The Queensway, Etobicoke
I’ve mentioned before that Scaddabush is a surprisingly good casual chain restaurant; well, I just tried the pizza, and yeah, I still like the place.
I got the Mario: “prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, baby arugula.”
It’s good — it’s not mind-blowing, but I certainly enjoyed eating it a heck of a lot more than the pizza at Pizzeria Libretto.
The crust is basically Roman-style — thin and a little bit bready, with a satisfying amount of crispiness on its exterior. It’s not bad at all. And the toppings are solid. The tomato sauce is slightly garlicky and not over-applied, and the salty prosciutto and peppery arugula work quite well together.
It’s nothing that anyone’s going to get too excited over — but like everything else at Scaddabush, it’s better than you’d think, given the quality of the competition.
Location: 197 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
I continue to be baffled by the success of Panera Bread. It’s really expensive, consistently mediocre, and always busy. I don’t get it.
The bread’s not bad, I’ll give it that. I’ve had a few sandwiches here, and the bread is always the highlight.
I got the “Pick 2,” which means you can pick two smaller things and pay a lot for it. I got a small sandwich and a little bowl of chili, and it came up to a bit over 14 bucks, and just get the hell out of here with that. This should cost about half of that for the quality of food they’re serving.
Specifically, I got the Fontiga Chicken Panini, and the Turkey Chili.
They were both fine. The sandwich had a mild smoky flavour — I guess either the cheese or the chicken was smoked — but was otherwise the sandwich equivalent of white noise. It’s neither good nor bad; it’s just kind of there.
The chili was fine, but it was about on the level as a can of soup from the supermarket. A nicer can — maybe one that costs a buck fifty instead of a buck — but a can nonetheless.
And of course, as usual, the place was packed. Why? I guess it’s better than the literal garbage that they call sandwiches at Tim Hortons, but still: why is this place so popular?