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: 1050 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
I’ve said it before, but I think the McMuffin is a legitimately great breakfast sandwich that’s probably better than a lot of the fancier sandwiches you can find around the GTA. The rest of the McDonald’s menu is decent for what it is, but I will go to bat for the McMuffin any day of the week.
The Bacon, Egg & Smoky Gouda McMuffin doesn’t stray too far from the Bacon ‘N Egg McMuffin template, so yeah, it’s good.
As per the McDonald’s website, the sandwich comes with “a freshly cracked Canada Grade A egg topped with smoke flavoured Gouda cheese, Smoky cheese flavoured sauce and hickory smoked bacon.”
It’s tasty for all the same reasons a regular McMuffin is tasty (the egg, cheese, and toasted English muffin combo continues to be a winner), but with a distinct hit of smokiness thanks to the gouda and the sauce. It’s a solid breakfast sandwich.
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.
Mofongo at Aquarela Restaurant
After realizing that I had never tried mofongo — a Puerto Rican dish in which plantain is mashed with garlic and crispy pork skin — I quickly discovered that Aquarela is pretty much the only game in town. Thankfully, they seem to be doing a pretty great job of carrying the torch for the dish in the GTA; I have nothing to compare it to, but it’s tasty, that’s for sure. It’s rich, creamy, garlicky and abundantly delicious. It’s kinda like mashed potatoes on steroids. It also comes with your choice of meat; I went with the crispy pork belly, and yeah, that’s a great combo. Something to cut through the plate’s overwhelming fatty richness would have been nice, but that’s a minor complaint for a very tasty dish.
Noodle Soup at Hey Noodles
The noodles at Hey Noodles are great (as you’d hope for from a place with “noodles” right in the name of the restaurant), but what really blew my mind was the price. I ordered the Chongqing Street Noodles, which is a very large bowl of soup that’s absolutely crammed with noodles, and that somehow only costs $6.99. The egg was an extra dollar, but even still, that’s a fantastic deal, especially considering how tasty it is. The noodles are nice and chewy, and the soup is delightfully zingy, with that addictive combo of spiciness and numbing heat that you get in this style of Chinese cuisine.
Clay pot rice at Good Taste Casserole Rice
Clay pot rice is an extremely simple dish — it’s basically just plain white rice that’s topped with meat and cooked in the eponymous pot, which makes the bottom layer of rice nice and crispy. It’s simple, but immensely satisfying when done well. The one I ordered was topped with eel and various meats and sausages, and yeah, it’s super satisfying. The fluffy/crispy rice, the tasty meats, and the sauce they have on the side (which was in a soy sauce container, but I’m fairly certain was more than just soy sauce) was a great combo.
Location: 821 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
Madame Levant is a brunch spot with an interesting gimmick; most of the menu consists of brunch classics “with a Levantine twist.”
Actually, maybe using the word “gimmick” to describe what they’re serving here is unfair. Based on the two dishes I tried, Madame Levant manages to combine brunch standbys and Middle Eastern ingredients in a way that feels completely organic.
First up was the Halawa Pancakes, which the menu describes as “GF flour blend pancakes served with orange blossom tahini maple syrup & topped with pistachios and ward (dried flower petals).”
Halawa — a sweet, tahini-based dessert — and pancakes turn out to be a great combo, and the floral notes you get from the orange blossom and flower petals complements it perfectly. I feel like I need all of my maple syrup to be infused with tahini from now on; it adds a richness and a mildly nutty flavour that really amps up its deliciousness.
The pancakes are gluten free, but aside from a slightly denser texture than the norm, they’re very good.
I also tried the Sujuk Scrambled: “beef sausages finished with pomegranate molasses, 3 soft scrambled eggs, with a side of hummus, pita, & olives.”
This one’s pretty basic, but when you’re dealing with good ingredients that are well prepared, sometimes simpler is better. The sausage is tasty and the eggs are nicely creamy. Hummus and eggs aren’t a combination that I would have thought of, but it works. Nothing here knocked my socks off, but it’s a solid dish.