Location: 190 University Avenue, Toronto
I don’t really have a favourite restaurant in the city — I have a tendency to want to try something new every time I eat out, so it’s rare that I’ll go to the same place more than a couple of times.
So I guess Momofuku Noodle Bar is one of my favourite restaurants by default, because I’ve been there several times, and it’s consistently very good.
On this particular visit I tried a couple of their buns — chicken burger and cod cake — and both were quite tasty. The chicken burger, which featured a generous spread of pepper hummus, was the more interesting of the two. But the crispy, tasty cod was quite good as well.
I also tried the onigiri, and with its crispy fried bottom layer of nori, it was certainly an interesting take on the ubiquitous Japanese snack. But it was a little bit bland, and probably not something I’d order again.
The Jaja noodles, which the menu describes as “bacon, black bean, cabbage, pickle,” was good, but it was another item I probably wouldn’t get again. It had a meaty, umami-filled flavour, but it felt one-note. It really needed a bit more vibrancy to round out its porky richness (it probably didn’t help that it reminded me a lot of a dish I had in Malaysia called chili pan mee that was superior in every regard).
Assembly Chef’s Hall is Toronto’s first food hall — it’s basically like a food court, if food courts were amazing.
There’s a bunch of interesting restaurants here, though I was homing in on the burger from Resto Boemo, which I wanted to review for my burger blog. But then I saw that Cherry Street Bar-B-Que was serving lamb shoulder as part of a St. Patrick’s Day special, and it was game over. I love southern-style barbecue, and I love lamb. Barbecued lamb? Hell yes.
It comes served on chunky mashed potatoes, and is topped with a generous amount of their Murphy’s Stout BBQ sauce, which was amazing. It was extremely untraditional — it wasn’t nearly as sweet or as acidic as you’d expect, with a rich, tomatoey flavour that’s rounded out by the stout, which adds notes of chocolate and coffee. It sounds odd, but it worked incredibly well with the lamb. I should have asked if I could buy a bottle.
And that lamb was quite tasty, though like pretty much every barbecue place in the GTA, it had almost zero smokey flavour. But in this case I didn’t even particularly mind — the amazing flavour of the lamb was front-and-centre, and it’s hard to complain too much about that. It was tender while still retaining some texture, with some really tasty bark, and just enough fat to keep things interesting, but not enough to overwhelm.
Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto
I love Porchetta and Co. Their porchetta sandwich? Classic. Best porchetta in the city. Their fried chicken sandwiches? Usually delicious! Their Nashville hot chicken sandwich? Uh…
Hey, they can’t all be winners. And it wasn’t all bad. The fried chicken itself was superlative, as usual: perfectly-cooked chicken with a crispy, crunchy, tasty exterior. It’s good stuff.
Nashville hot chicken is a notoriously spicy dish that involves a post-cooking dunk into spice-infused oil to give the chicken additional flavour and heat. It’s typically sprinkled with more spices, just to kick up the heat factor. Porchetta and Co. appear to have remembered the oil — the sandwich was absolutely dripping with it — but forgotten the spices. The oily coating on the chicken was bland, and worse, it wasn’t spicy. At all. The spice level here never registered beyond a mild tingle. WTF?
The other components of the sandwich — lettuce, mayo, pickles, plain white bread — were fine, though the sugary-sweet pickles were a bit overpowering.