Super Deluxe Hot Dogs at Kung Fu Dawg

Kung Fu DawgLocation: 19 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://kungfudawg.com/

Remember when street vendor hot dogs were everywhere in the city?  There was a time when you couldn’t walk more than a block or two without running into one.  I’m not sure exactly why they mostly went away, though I’m assuming it has something to do with the explosion of cheap eats around the city over the last decade or so, not to mention the general foodie-ification of the GTA.

But there are still a handful of old school vendors around the city — or if you’re looking for something made with a bit more care, there’s Kung Fu Dawg on Ossington.

They actually make their own hot dogs and put them in a natural casing, which gives you a snappier bite than a traditional dog.  The pickles and many of the condiments are homemade as well, so clearly, this is something a bit more special than your typical street meat.

Kung Fu Dawg

I ordered the namesake Kung Fu Dawg, which is piled high with fennel slaw, pickles, onions, jalapenos, corn relish, spicy mayo, crispy onions, chili, and cheese.

There’s no easy way to eat this.  I tried to pick it up out of the cardboard box it’s served in, but it was so big and unwieldy I couldn’t get a grip on it.  Eventually, I had to just embrace the mess and dive in.

It’s really good, and an absolute cornucopia of tastes and textures.  It’s pretty much got all the flavours: it’s salty, savoury, sweet, vinegary, and a little bit spicy.  It’s crispy, it’s crunchy, it’s meaty — it’s everything at once.

Kung Fu Dawg

I liked it a lot, but I think there might have been a little bit too much going on.  They make their own hot dogs, but there’s so much stuff piled on top of it that you can barely taste it. It may as well have been Oscar Mayer.

Of course, the whole thing is super delicious, so it’s hard to complain too much — but next time, I think I’ll order something a bit more plain so I can see what the actual hot dog tastes like.

Oh, and I also tried the fries; like the hot dog, they were way above average.

Consistent Mediocrity at Panera Bread

Panera Bread
Location: 197 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.panerabread.com

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.

Panera Bread

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.

Panera Bread

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?