Cheap Eats at Ming’s Noodle Cafe

Ming's Noodle CafeLocation: 3447 Kennedy Road, Scarborough
Website: None

Ming’s Noodle Cafe is a Hong-Kong-style diner; it’s also one of those restaurants with a multi-page menu with literally hundreds of choices.  If you’re not sure what to order, the All Day Special is a safe bet, and an absolutely incredible deal.

Ming's Noodle Cafe

For the almost absurdly low price of 7.45, you get an egg sandwich or an omelette with toast on the side, a main meal, and a drink.  It’s an insane deal.

Ming's Noodle Cafe

Is the food amazing?  No, it definitely isn’t; but for that price how can you complain?

Ming's Noodle Cafe

And it’s certainly not bad.  I started with the egg sandwich, which features a tasty, buttery omelette between two fluffy slices of white bread.  The eggs were slightly overcooked, but it was a respectable sandwich.

Ming's Noodle Cafe

Next up was the beef with satay sauce on vermicelli soup.  This was fine; the beef is tender, and the satay sauce is tasty enough.  Nothing about it particularly stands out… until you add a heaping amount of the chili sauce they have on the table, then it really comes alive.

Ming's Noodle Cafe

I wish that sauce were a bit spicier (it’s surprisingly mild) but it’s otherwise sweet, savoury, and addictive, with a face-punch of satisfying flavours.  You can buy a jar to take home for six bucks, and you’d better believe I bought one.

Delicious Banh Mi at Rose’s Vietnamese Sandwiches

Rose's Vietnamese SandwichesLocation: 601 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
Website: None

Like many banh mi joints, Rose’s Vietnamese Sandwiches is ridiculously cheap.  I had the standard cold cut banh mi, which is crammed with meat and pate, and costs a paltry three bucks.

This is simultaneously amazing — cheap, delicious food! — and crappy.  There’s an unfair expectation that a lot of Asian or Latin American cuisine should be served for rock-bottom prices, which makes it unnecessarily difficult for the people who run those restaurants to make a living.

Rose's Vietnamese Sandwiches

I’m not going to rehash what many other people have written on the subject, but it does kinda give you pause.

Setting that aside?  It’s a tasty sandwich.  The assorted meats banh mi is the classic — it’s got Vietnamese cold cuts, chunky pate, pickled veggies, and cilantro.

Rose's Vietnamese Sandwiches

It’s really tasty; there’s a lot of meat, but it’s perfectly balanced out by the sweet, vinegary pickled veggies, not to mention the abundant fresh cilantro.  It’s definitely a contender for  the best banh mi in the city, though I think there are a couple of things holding it back from greatness.

The biggest issue: I wish it had more pate.  It has a thin spread of pate that’s entirely overwhelmed by the sizable layer of cold cuts.  You miss out on the satisfying contrast between the meaty cold cuts and the creamy, minerally pate.

Rose's Vietnamese Sandwiches

The other issue is the bread.  It’s certainly not bad, but the exterior doesn’t quite have the light crispiness you’re looking for, and the whole thing is a bit dry.

Still, those are fairly minor complaints — it’s a solid banh mi, it’s just not quite up there with the best that I’ve had.

Yet Another Tasty Meal at Manpuku

ManpukuLocation105 McCaul Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.manpuku.ca/

Does the world need yet another Manpuku post from me?  Probably not!  (This would be post number three, for those keeping count.)  Am I going to do it anyway?

Yes.  Yes I am.

I feel like I have to keep telling everyone I can about this place, because it continually impresses me with its delightful combination of tasty eats and ultra-affordable prices.

Manpuku

On this particular visit I tried the curry don, which features a heaping serving of rice topped with a generous amount of beef curry.

As with everything else here, it’s quite good.  The mild curry isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, but it’s rich, tasty, and abundantly satisfying.  It comes with a whole bunch of tender, thinly-shaved beef and is, unsurprisingly, an amazing deal at $6.99 (which I guess is actually kind of expensive by Manpuku’s standards).

Amazing Wonton Noodle Soup at Wonton Chai Noodle

Wonton Chai NoodleLocation: 4040 Creditview Road, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.wontonchainoodle.ca/

A good bowl of noodle soup is just the best.   It’s the best.  If you disagree, then I’m going to have to respectfully inform you that you’re wrong and that the way you’re living your life is wrong.

Wonton Chai Noodle

And Wonton Chai Noodle’s noodle soup game is strong.  Not only that, but it’s delightfully affordable.

Wonton Chai Noodle

Seven bucks gets you a very large, steaming bowl of noodley, shrimpy goodness.  The ultra-thin and ultra-firm noodles are really satisfying, and the simple-but-flavourful broth is imminently slurpable (especially when you add a heaping spoonful of the inferno-hot chili oil) — but it’s the wontons where this bowl really shines.

Wonton Chai Noodle

The filling of each wonton is crammed with whole pieces of perfectly cooked shrimp.  Shrimp is easy to overcook and turn rubbery, but these were spot-on.  And the flavour was just as good, with a rich seafoodiness that makes me want to order a whole pile of these and eat it like a bag of popcorn.  The wrapper was ever-so-slightly mushy, but aside from that they were seriously tasty.

Another Tasty Meal at Manpuku

ManpukuLocation105 McCaul Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.manpuku.ca/

I’ve already talked about Manpuku, so I’ll keep this brief.  I went back and tried the shigure don, and just like the udon I tried on my last visit, it was absolutely delicious and delightfully cheap.

The shigure don consisted of a heaping pile of tasty, well-marinated beef and onions atop  a generous portion of rice.  The beef looks a bit dry in the picture, but it was actually super tender, and surprisingly packed with flavour.  And the soft, tasty onions compliment the beef perfectly.

Manpuku

It cost $6.49.  I mean, come on, Manpuku — now you’re making all the other restaurants look bad.  I’ve frequently paid three or four times as much money for meals that weren’t half as good as what they’re serving here.