Empty Instagram Bait at Taiyaki NYC

Taiyaki NYCLocation: 128 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: https://taiyakinyc.com/

Taiyaki NYC is basically the same concept as Sukoi Desserts, in which a taiyaki (a Japanese waffle-like dessert in the shape of a fish) is filled with ice cream and other toppings.

It’s a dessert that’s tailor-made for Instagram; in fact, Taiyaki NYC even has a portion of their wall made entirely of flowers to make your photo really pop.  I just wish they put in half as much effort to make the food pop.

It’s a dessert I should love.  Ice cream is great.  Taiyaki is great.  Cramming those two things together should be a home run.  And yet…

Taiyaki NYC

I went with the Mangonificient, which is supposedly one of their most popular flavours — it features a mango/vanilla swirl inside a custard taiyaki.

The ice cream is the biggest issue.  It’s not good — it has a decent mango flavour, but it’s icy and thin.  It’s topped with a cookie and a few tiny cubes of tasteless mochi on a stick.  It looks impressive, but the taste is another story.

Taiyaki NYC

I will say, however, that the taiyaki itself is actually quite good.  It’s nice and fresh, with a crispy exterior and a perfectly cakey/fluffy interior.   They sell them on their own, which is clearly the thing to order.  It probably won’t be much of a hit on social media, though, so what’s the point, right?

Tasty Japanese Cream Buns at Hattendo Cafe

Hattendo CafeLocation: 13 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.hattendo.ca/

One of the things that takes some getting used to in Asia is that some countries there consider white bread to essentially be a dessert.  More than once, I’ve gone to a convenience store and bought what appears to be a Twinkie-esque pastry, only to realize that it’s just a plain white bun, like a hot dog bun.

Hattendo Cafe

Which is to say that if you’ve never had the type of Japanese cream bun they serve at Hattendo, you might be surprised to discover that the bun itself is basically just a soft, fluffy hamburger bun.  Once you get used to it, however, it’s quite tasty.

I tried three: custard, chocolate, and red bean.  The bun itself is quite nice.  It’s soft, fluffly, and just a little bit sweet.

Hattendo Cafe

The custard was my least favourite of the three flavours.  It was nice and creamy, but the flavour was middling; there just wasn’t much to it.

The chocolate was much better, with a pronounced cocoa-infused flavour and a satisfyingly restrained level of sweetness.

Hattendo Cafe

The red bean was the best of the three.  If you normally don’t like beany sweets, this might just be the perfect gateway dessert — it’s super creamy and tasty, with a really nice balance between the creamy custard and the sweet red beans.

A Simple (but Delicious) Sandwich at Mattachioni

MattachioniLocation: 1617 Dupont Street, Toronto
Website: http://www.mattachioni.com/

If it weren’t for Toronto Life’s list of the best sandwiches in the city, there’s no way I would have ordered the mortadella sandwich at Mattachioni.  Aside from the fact that the pizzas looked very, very good, the mortadella sandwich is quite bare bones — it’s just mortadella and fresh mozzarella on tomato focaccia bread.

Mattachioni

But of course, sometimes the simplest things are the best.  If you’re dealing with really good quality ingredients, less is more.

The contrast between the tender, salty mortadella and the creamy mozzarella works really well (fresh mozzarella has a radically different texture than the rubbery shrink-wrapped balls at the supermarket — it’s soft, creamy, and luxurious).

Mattachioni

The fluffy, slightly chewy focaccia is quite good too, though I wish it had a bit more texture (it was soft throughout).  It was also soaked through with olive oil; it gives the sandwich a nice greasy heft, though it might have been a little bit too much of a good thing.

Still, it’s a very tasty sandwich.  I don’t think I’d put it on my list of the best in the city, but I don’t begrudge anyone for putting it on theirs.

Mattachioni

I also got to try a little bit of the Margherita pizza, which was absolutely outstanding (I didn’t take a picture of that one, sadly, so you’ll just have to take my word that it looked and tasted amazing).

Mattachioni

They have both custard and dulce de leche bomboloni for dessert (a.k.a. Italian doughnuts).  I tried both, and while they were tasty, they definitely weren’t on the level of the sandwich or the pizza.  They were a little bit too dense, with a slightly oily flavour.

Unique Desserts at Patchmon’s Thai Desserts

Patchmon's Thai DessertsLocation: 2463 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.thaidesserts.ca/

I mentioned recently that Asian desserts have a tendency to be an acquired taste.  That is absolutely, positively the case with Patchmon’s Thai Desserts.

But that’s part of the appeal — how often do you get a chance to try something that’s entirely unlike anything you’ve ever eaten before?  There’s something thrilling about that, especially when the thing you’re eating is also delicious.

Patchmon's Thai Desserts

I tried three desserts, and the biggest “whoa, that’s new” was easily the Thai taro custard.  For the most part, it’s not all that unusual — it kind of tastes like a much denser, richer version of creme caramel, with an almost cakey consistency.

It’s also topped with caramelized shallots.

Patchmon's Thai Desserts

It’s weird.  The shallots aren’t just a topping — the whole thing is perfumed with their flavour.  It sounds like it should be off-putting, but oddly enough, it works.

There’s no doubt that it’s unusual, though.  It’s one of those things I ate with a perpetually furrowed brow.  I’ll also admit that I didn’t finish it.  It sat in my fridge for about a week until I finally threw it out.  As much as I liked it, I never particularly felt like reliving that odd sensation of eating dessert that’s also a little bit oniony.

Patchmon's Thai Desserts

The next thing I tried was the Thai coconut layer cake.  Despite the name, it’s actually more of a jelly, which the woman behind the counter explained is made with tapioca rather than gelatin, and which is flavoured with pandan leaves.

This was my favourite of the three.  The texture was denser and creamier than your typical gelatin (it was somewhere between mochi and Jell-o), and the flavour was great, if a bit hard to describe.  It’s vaguely nutty and almost malty.  It’s quite good.

Patchmon's Thai Desserts

The third item was the ta-goe (sweet tapioca with coconut cream).  I didn’t particularly enjoy this one.  The texture — featuring a creamy top layer and a tapioca-infused bottom layer — was quite nice.  But it had a sharply salty, almost sour flavour that I found to be a bit overwhelming.  I have no doubt that it’s an authentic version of that particular dessert, but I think it’s an acquired taste that I haven’t yet acquired.

(Mostly) Tasty Wheel Cakes at Formocha

FormochaLocation: 55 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.formochabubbletea.com/

They sell Taiwanese-style wheel cakes at Formocha (which are essentially pancakes that are cooked in a circular mold with a sweet filling) and they’re mostly pretty good.  But there are a couple of issues.

Formocha

The first (and biggest) issue?  Red bean wasn’t a filling choice, at least when I went.  I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to deduct about a million points for its absence.  I mean, come on.  It’s the classic filling.  Red bean or GTFO.

Formocha

I wound up trying custard, and Oreo custard.  They were both tasty enough, but (and here’s the second issue) the custard tasted off.  There was something weird about it, with an almost fruity flavour that was vaguely off-putting.

The Oreo was much better — rather than the chunks that you might expect, it was filled with an entire cookie, which was surprisingly delightful.

Plus, the cakes themselves were super fresh (they cook them to order), with a slightly crispy exterior and a fluffy interior.  They were good, but… come on.  Red bean.  Give it to me.