Location: 249 Queen Street West, Toronto
Ikkousha Chicken Ramen shocked me. It’s a spin-off of Ikkousha Ramen, which specializes in porky tonkotsu ramen. I like that place a lot, but I find the flavour of the soup to be a bit one-note porky. It’s delicious, but not exactly my favourite ramen in the city.
Ikkousha Chicken Ramen, as you’d probably expect, serves a similar style of ramen, but made with chicken instead of pork.
I ordered the tori paitan ramen with an egg added on (a must). They have lighter choices on the menu, but the tori paitan is basically the chicken version of the signature tonkotsu at the original restaurant.
It’s very, very good. It has really delightful roast chicken flavour; it’s like a soup version of a great roast chicken, with such a rounded chicken flavour that it never feels one-note like the ramen at the original location.
The slices of ultra-tender chicken on top are great, and the egg was perfectly cooked, with a great flavour and a perfectly jammy yolk. The noodles were maybe a touch too soft, but that’s a minor complaint for what is otherwise one of the best bowls of ramen I’ve had in a while.
Location: 445 Adelaide Street West, Toronto
What’s better than a doughnut? A warm, fresh-from-the-fryer doughnut, that’s what.
Outside of a few beverages, Cops does just one thing: Tiny Tom’s-esque mini doughnuts that you can order topped with OG sour cream glaze, cinnamon sugar, or the weekly feature, which was orange sherbet when I visited. I went with an order of six of the feature.
My batch had an unnervingly pale colour, and I thought, uh oh, but maybe they serve a different style of doughnut?
Alas, they do not — the doughnuts were underdone, with an interior that wasn’t quite raw, but that was softer than you’d like.
Still, I didn’t dislike eating them — it’s hard to go wrong with a fresh doughnut, even when it’s not quite fully cooked. The exterior still managed to have a very light crispiness, and while I wish the interior was less mushy and more fluffy, it wasn’t unpleasant to eat.
That’s not to mention the orange sherbet icing, which was fantastic — it had a great balance of sweet and tart, and a nice hit of orange flavour. You could put that on anything and it would be great.
Location: 65 Duncan Street, Toronto
Shah’s Halal Food has a pretty straightforward menu; it’s basically just chicken, lamb, and falafel that you can either order on rice or as a wrap. Apparently it’s a chain with a whole bunch of locations in the States and the UK, and yeah, that checks out. It tastes like chain food.
Still, it’s not bad. I went with the lamb gyros, which comes absolutely crammed with lamb, veggies, black beans, chick peas, hummus, and three different sauces: white sauce, hot sauce, and green sauce.
The lamb itself is probably the weakest part of the sandwich; it comes out of a metal warming tray looking like the saddest, grayest cubes of meat that you’ve ever seen, and it has a spongey reconstituted meat flavour. It’s not great.
But the sandwich is so crammed with stuff that this is barely even an issue — I wish it were a bit spicier (it’s basically not spicy at all), but it’s zippy, crunchy, and flavourful, and the soft but substantial pita does a good job of holding it all together.
Location: 147 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
Ca Phe Rang is a Vietnamese joint that was opened by celebrity chef Matty Matheson along with his mentor, Rang Nguyen. The menu consists mostly of banh mi and pho (which can be combined by ordering a bowl of pho dipping sauce to go with your sandwich).
I tried a couple of the banh mi, along with the dipping sauce.
First up was the pork (“Roasted and glazed pork. Bánh mì comes with pâté, carrot, daikon, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, Thai basil, white onion, spicy chili paste”). I’ll admit that I wasn’t crazy about this. The pork was dry and mostly flavourless, and if there was pate in the sandwich, I couldn’t taste it. The generous pile of zingy veggies and fresh cilantro are quite tasty, but the sandwich really needed some kind of sauce to bring some moisture and flavour.
(There is the pho dip — which tastes like a pretty standard pho broth — which helps quite a lot. But this is an optional $3 add-on, so you’d think the sandwich would be able to stand on its own.)
The brisket (“Roasted and glazed brisket. Bánh Mì comes with pâté, carrot, daikon, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, white onion, spicy chili paste”) is substantially better. Again, the pate was either MIA or applied so sparingly that it may as well not be there. But the meat is super tender, and it’s saucy and flavourful enough that the sandwich never feels dry like the pork. It’s actually fairy sweet, but the vinegary bite of the veggies does a great job of balancing this out. This one doesn’t need the dip at all; it’s thoroughly delicious on its own.
Location: 531 Yonge Street, Toronto
As you’d guess from the name, Egg Club is all about egg sandwiches; every sandwich here features a fluffy omelet with various toppings, served on sweet Japanese milk bread. It reminds me a lot of Egg Bae, but I think I like this place better.
You can get sandwiches here with stuff like ham, bacon, or even lobster, but I went pretty simple with the eponymous Egg Club: “Balsamic Onion, Swiss Cheese, Creme Fraiche, Egg Club Sauce.”
Between the silky eggs, the cheese, the sweet brioche-style bread, and the creamy sauces, it’s a very rich sandwich. It’s a bit one-note (this was my biggest problem with Egg Bae as well), but the balsamic onion does a pretty solid job of bringing some sweet acidity that tones it down. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but there’s a generous amount throughout the sandwich, and it’s fairly essential in keeping things balanced.