A Tasty Wrap at Tianjin Auntie’s Steamed Bun

Tianjin Auntie's Steamed Bun
: 77 Huron Street, Toronto
Website: None

When I first found out about the existence of jian bing a few years ago, it was impossible to find in Toronto (if it was being served, I couldn’t find any evidence of it online).  Living with the grim knowledge that something so delicious existed, and having no way (outside of an expensive plane ticket) to eat it was actually pretty brutal.

Tianjin Auntie's Steamed Bun

Thankfully, things have changed in the last few years; several places serving jian bing have been popping up, so if you’re looking for it (and you should be looking for it), you’re good to go.

I guess I should probably explain what jian bing even is — it’s more common than it used to be, but it’s not exactly at sushi levels of ubiquity quite yet.  It’s a tasty Chinese breakfast wrap that finds a crepe (of sorts) cooked with eggs until they combine into one thing, and it’s all wrapped up with tasty sauces and crispy fried dough. It’s delicious.

Tianjin Auntie's Steamed Bun

And the version they serve at Tianjin Auntie’s Steamed Bun is legit; it’s a seriously addictive combo of chewy exterior and crispy interior, it’s a savoury, a little bit sweet, eggy, and delicious.  It might actually be slightly too eggy, however, and the whole thing is somewhat soggy.  This dish is traditionally served as street food; I took it to go and was planning to eat and walk, but it quickly became apparent that it was a bit too sloppy to eat while on the move.   That’s a minor complaint, however.  It was still very good.

Tianjin Auntie's Steamed Bun

(I should also note that Tianjin Auntie’s Steamed Bun is a restaurant with a full menu of tasty looking Northern Chinese dishes, in case I’m giving you the impression that they just serve one thing.  A repeat visit is almost certainly in order.)

Tasty Ice Cream Sandwiches at Dainties Macaron

Dainties Macaron
: 235 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.instagram.com/daintiesmacaron/

Dainties has just two things on their menu: standard macarons with a Korean bent, and macaron ice cream sandwiches.  I tried one of the ice cream sandwiches, and not surprisingly, it’s tasty.  It turns out that when you specialize in just one thing, you can do it very, very well.

Dainties Macaron

They have a bunch of traditional flavours like vanilla and pistachio, along with more Korean/Asian-infused flavours.  I went with black sesame, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I’m not sure where they source their ice cream from (or if they make it themselves), but it’s clearly good stuff — it’s nice and creamy, and the flavour is aces.  The nutty, somewhat earthy flavour of the black sesame complements the sweet cookies perfectly.  And those macaron cookies are great; the combo of the chewy cookies and the rich ice cream is a clear winner.

Dainties Macaron

The only issue: they serve it way, way, way (way way way) too cold.  I could barely even bite through it at first.  I waited something like 10 minutes and it was still a bit too firm, but I only have so much willpower when I’ve got a delicious ice cream sandwich in my hands.

Tasty Noodle Soup at House of Gourmet

House of GourmetLocation: 484 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: http://houseofgourmet.blogspot.com/

Wonton noodle soup is one of those dishes that’s basically always delicious.  I’ve certainly had bowls that are better than others, but I think it’s just fundamentally appealing.  It’s kinda like pizza; it’s hard to mess up, and even when it’s bad, it’s good.

House of Gourmet

And the bowl at House of Gourmet is quite good.  It’s not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s a solid bowl of noodle soup.

House of Gourmet

I was clued into this place thanks to this article, which specifically called out the wonton brisket noodle soup as being the thing to order here.  The addition of fatty, tender, flavourful beef suits the bowl quite well.

Everything else is just as it should be; the soup has a savoury punch, the noodles are nice and firm, and the chunky wontons are quite satisfying.

House of Gourmet

And of course, you’ve gotta add some chili oil to the bowl.  Unlike the stuff I recently had at Ming’s Noodle Cafe, which was crammed with flavour but surprisingly low on spice, a heaping spoonful is all you need to give the bowl a nice kick.

Decent Noodles at Origination Noodle House

Origination Noodle HouseLocation: 421 Dundas Street West, Toronto

The dish I ordered at Origination Noodle House turned out to be basically the exact same one I had at Dagu Rice Noodle.  I probably should have realized that it was the same dish, but it didn’t occur to me until I actually started eating.

It was fine.  I wasn’t crazy about it at Dagu Rice Noodle, and I was similarly unmoved by its charms here.

Origination Noodle House

The presentation was interesting.  It’s basically a bowl of noodle soup that features thick rice noodles along with various meats and veggies in a basic (and bubbling hot) broth.  But at Origination, it comes completely deconstructed.

Origination Noodle House

First, they bring you a plate with all of the various meats and vegetables, then they bring a bowl of noodles, and finally, a bubbling hot bowl of broth.  Everything gets dumped into the broth, and you’re good to go.

I think the version at Dagu Rice Noodle was slightly better, if only because the meat (and the tender pork in particular) was more satisfying.  It was otherwise very similar: chewy rice noodles, veggies of various textures that all taste about the same, and a simple broth that practically demands a very liberal application of chili oil.

Origination Noodle House

Like at Dagu, I didn’t dislike eating it, but I can’t say I’m in any particular rush to have it again.

Bizarre Pizza at Big Trouble Pizza

Big Trouble PizzaLocation: 235 Spadina Avenue, Toronto

The dessert pizza at Big Trouble Pizza — called the Butter Jam Jam — is quite odd.  It features raspberry jam, butter cream, bocconcini cheese, mozzarella cheese, balsamic reduction, and lemon zest.

It sounds kinda absurd, and… yeah, it’s absurd.  I was hoping it would be one of those things that sounds weird but is actually great; no such luck.

Big Trouble Pizza

It’s not bad, though.  It’s generally tasty enough — all of the components are good — but the flavours/textures never quite cohere in any meaningful way.  It’s a little too salty for something that’s supposed to be a dessert, and nothing about it particularly pops.

Big Trouble Pizza

It tastes like something you might whip up in a moment of bizarre inspiration (perhaps under the influence of a certain substance that was just legalized) and then, once you actually try it, never make again.

Still, I didn’t dislike eating it, I guess.  And the crust was actually quite good, with a light exterior crispiness, and a pleasantly chewy interior.  It definitely makes me want to go back and try one of the traditional pizzas.