The Porchetta at Porchetta & Co.: Still Great

Porchetta & Co.Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://porchettaco.com/

Though I’m a big fan of the porchetta sandwich at Porchetta & Co., my tendency is to get tempted by the various fried chicken sandwich specials.  It’s been ages since I’ve had the good old plain porchetta sandwich.

Porchetta & Co.

I was afraid it might have gone downhill.  It’s an outstanding sandwich, but many successful restaurants have a hard time maintaining consistency over the years, and eventually become a victim of their own success.  This is especially true once expansion becomes a factor.

Well, I’m happy to say that this doesn’t seem to be an issue here.  The porchetta sandwich: still outstanding.

Porchetta & Co.

I didn’t see any crackling when I opened it up, which concerned me.  But I guess it was all hiding under the meat, because there was a pretty good amount.  (I could have used more, but then it’s basically impossible to get enough crackling.  I could have an all-crackling sandwich, and I’d still be like “that was pretty good, but it needed more crackling.”)

I also thought the sandwich looked a little lean on first inspection, but again, it was all hiding in there; the meat was super tender, with a perfect amount of tasty fat interspersed throughout.

Porchetta & Co.

It’s a seriously, seriously great sandwich.  The crispy, fluffy bun is as perfect as ever, and the pork itself is still top-notch.  The spicing is subtle compared to some porchetta, but there’s more than enough for it to pack some serious flavour.  That’s not to mention that the milder seasoning allows the natural flavour of the pork to really shine through.

Porchetta & Co.

You can get all kinds of toppings, if you want — in fact, the “House Special” is topped with parmesan, truffle sauce, mustard, and hot sauce.   And certainly, it’s not un-tasty.  But all that stuff is superfluous, and worse, it just gets in the way of the amazing pork.  The porchetta is so tender, porky, and herby; obscuring it with additional sauces and flavours just seems like a shame.

Decent Noodles at Origination Noodle House

Origination Noodle HouseLocation: 421 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.originationtoronto.ca/

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.

Decent Thai Food at Pai

PaiLocation: 18 Duncan Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.paitoronto.com/

After recently having a mind-blowing meal at Khao San Road (which is just around the corner), I decided to Thai it up again, this time at Pai.  Alas, the meal was quite tasty, but it wasn’t even close to being on the same level as KSR.

I ordered the Pad Gra Prow — “holy basil stir fried with your choice of ground pork, chicken, beef or tofu, steamed jasmine rice, thai style fried egg, nam prik nam pla sauce.”

Pai

I went with pork, and elected to go Thai spicy, which is the highest spice level.

And indeed, they were absolutely, positively not kidding around with the spice.  I enjoyed the level of heat, but then I’m somewhat of a glutton for punishment in that regard (see also: my undying love for the “hot AF” chicken at Chica’s Chicken).

Pai

Sadly, aside from the impressive level of fiery heat, nothing about this dish particularly stands out.  It’s perfectly tasty, but none of the flavours pop, even when you add the fish sauce that comes on the side.  It’s a serviceable dish, but it’s boring.

Contrast that with the life-changing bowl of Khao Soi that I had at Khao San Road, and there’s no contest.

Of course, it’s not a fair comparison since the two dishes are so radically different.  But my dining companion had the pad thai at both restaurants and was able to make a 1:1 comparison.  He had the same reaction — Pai is fine, but KSR is magical.

Always Bet on Black at iHalo Krunch

iHalo CrunchLocation: 318 Queen Street West (inside Lululemon)
Websitehttps://www.ihalokrunch.com/

I’m very late to the party on the charcoal cones at iHalo Krunch.   But hey, if you’re curious about that thing you saw all over Instagram last year, here I am to talk about it ridiculously late.

Would it surprise you to hear that this Instagram-famous ice cream cone is all style, no substance?  Because at this point, it probably shouldn’t.

It’s fine — but of course, the most interesting thing about it is the way it looks.

iHalo Crunch

I ordered the black on black, which is coconut flavoured soft serve made jet black thanks to “activated charcoal” (which is basically edible charcoal with some alleged health benefits) served in a charcoal cone.

The ice cream has a pleasant coconut flavour, but there’s really not much to it.  It’s also way too thin, with a distinct lack of creaminess.

The cone is fine. It’s a cone that happens to be black.  Nothing else about it stands out.

And of course, I don’t think I saw anyone order it and not take a photo, because why else would you order this thing?  It’s essentially an edible prop.

Veal Sandwich Greatness at Uno Mustachio

Uno MustachioLocation: 95 Front Street East (inside the St. Lawrence Market)
Websitehttp://www.unomustachio.com/

I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve been eating sandwiches at Uno Mustachio, but it’s been at least a couple of decades, if not longer.

Actually, “sandwiches” isn’t right.  Sandwich.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one thing to order at Uno Mustachio: the veal and eggplant sandwich.  The other sandwiches and pastas they have on the menu might be delicious; I’ll never know.  I don’t go there nearly often enough to mess around.  Veal and eggplant for life.

Uno Mustachio

It’s a simple enough sandwich: a fried veal cutlet, a couple of slices of fried eggplant, sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms, a generous ladle of tomato sauce, and some hot peppers if you feel like kicking it up a few notches.  It’s all served on a crusty roll that does a great job of holding up to the very messy sandwich without falling apart.

It’s as delicious now as the day I started going there.

You can get fried veal sandwiches all over the city, but (and maybe this is my nostalgia talking), Uno Mustachio is the king.  All of the components are so well prepared, and they all compliment each other so well.

Uno Mustachio

The simple but rich tomato sauce is great, and — this is key — they apply it to the top and bottom of the sandwich instead of dunking the fried components right in.  This allows the sandwich to be nice and saucy, but prevents the crispy fried bits from sogging up.

The creamy eggplant compliments the meaty veal perfectly, and the whole thing feels so well balanced despite how hefty and messy it is.  It’s easily one of the best sandwiches in the city.