Location: 77 Huron Street, Toronto
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.
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.
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.
(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.)
Location: 190 University Avenue, Toronto
Momofuku announced a few months ago that they’re shutting down their Toronto outpost later this month (with their location being replaced by Mott 32, a fancy Chinese restaurant chain). I figured one more visit to the Noodle Bar was in order to say goodbye.
I tried a couple of things. First up: the spicy rice cakes from their greatest hits menu, which the menu describes as “rice cakes seared on the plancha and tossed in a sauce with pork sausage, tofu, sichuan chili, gai lan, and finished with scallions.”
It’s a great dish; the rice cakes have a nice combo of crispy exterior and chewy interior, the flavourful sauce complements them perfectly, and the tasty pork sausage rounds things out. I can see why they consider this to be one of their greatest hits. It’s very good.
Since this is almost certainly my last ever visit to Momofuku (at least in Toronto), I had to get one of my favourites: the extremely spicy noodles. I feel like the level of extreme spice was slightly toned down from previous visits, and the noodles were a bit on the soft side, but this was otherwise a tasty (and still explosively spicy) dish.
Location: 4040 Creditview Road, Mississauga
I tried this place a few years ago when it was called Wonton Chai Noodle and liked it a lot. But they’ve got a new name, and I was curious to see if anything had changed. Back when I went, they were serving up some of the best wonton noodle soup in the GTA, and I wondered if that was still the case.
Spoiler alert: yes, it is absolutely still the case. It’s so good.
Those wontons are magical. They’re just as delicious as they were last time, with perfectly cooked shrimp and a flavour that keeps you coming back for more.
On this visit I ordered the bowl that also comes with beef brisket, and while the brisket was perfectly tender and tasty, the wontons are so good that it kind of feels like a waste of time. Just give me more of those wontons. Give me a million of those wontons. Let me drown in a swimming pool filled with those wontons.
I’m not sure if it’s because I ordered the brisket, but the soup was beefy instead of the usual chicken broth you’re expecting. But it was really tasty, so I can’t complain.
And the same fiery chili oil from my first visit is still on the table. This stuff is great; one spoonful is more than enough to give the bowl a serious kick.
Bonus: while it’s a bit pricier than it was when I visited in 2018 (seven bucks for a bowl back then, nine now, and ten for the version with brisket), it’s still delightfully affordable.
This place is kind of out there in Mississauga, but it’s totally worth the drive. It’s really, really good.
Location: 888 Dundas Street East, Mississauga (inside the Mississauga Chinese Centre)
If a restaurant has an enormous slab of tasty-looking roasted pork hanging in the window, you should eat at that restaurant. That’s just a fact. Is that a law? I think that might be the law. If you see a restaurant like that you have to eat there or you’ll go to jail. That sounds fair to me.
Luen Hing also has chicken and duck hanging in the window, and clearly I have to go back, because that pork… wow.
I ordered the roast pork and barbecue pork on rice, which comes with a seriously generous amount of tasty eats for about twelve bucks. It’s a great deal, that’s for sure.
I actually brought this home instead of eating in the food court, and I had resigned myself to the fact that the pork skin probably wouldn’t be particularly crispy. It’s hard to retain your crunch when you’ve been steaming in a sealed take-out box. But oh man, that skin was crisp. It was at delightful, kettle chip levels of crunchiness.
And the pork itself was so good. Super flavourful, nice and tender, fatty but not too fatty, and of course, the aforementioned super crunchy skin. Delightful.
The barbecue pork wasn’t quite on the same level — it was a bit dry — but it was still quite tasty, with a nice balance of sweet and savoury.
The steamed cabbage and the sauce they poured on top were also quite good. It all adds up to a seriously satisfying version of this dish, and a restaurant that I’ll almost certainly be returning to in the near future.
Location: 4040 Creditview Road #1, Mississauga
Akko Cake House is a bit oddly named. They do have a handful of cakes at the front, but mostly, this is a fairly standard Chinese bakery with a whole bunch of sweet and savoury buns and tarts.
I tried a few sweet buns: coconut, custard, and walnut.
The pastry itself was quite good — it was fresh, a little bit sweet, and super fluffy.
I was intrigued about the walnut variety; I don’t recall ever seeing a walnut bun before, and I’ve certainly never tried one. It was fairly subtle, however, with a very thin layer of walnut paste and a few walnut chunks. It tasted more like a plain bun with a mild walnut flavour.
The custard was about what you’d expect. It was sweet, creamy, and tasty.
The coconut bun was where it was at. The generous filling was really tasty, with a nice coconut flavour. It also has a surprisingly strong hit of salt that does a great job of rounding out the sweetness. It’s really good. The bakery was packed (the line was to the door when I left), and with buns that good, it’s easy enough to see why.