An Amazing Vegetarian Sandwich at Black Camel

Black CamelLocation: 4 Crescent Road, Toronto
Website: https://www.blackcamel.ca/

If it weren’t for Toronto Life’s list of the best sandwiches in the city, never in a million years would it have occurred to me to try the roasted veggie sandwich at Black Camel.  I suppose I’m indebted to the list, because the sandwich was quite delicious.

Black Camel is a little take-out sandwich shop that specializes in tender, slow-roasted beef brisket and pork sandwiches (they also have chicken, steak, and a BLT).

I had assumed that the roasted veggie sandwich was more of a perfunctory, vegetarian-appeasing menu-filler than something anyone would actually want to order.

Black Camel

I was super duper wrong.  The veggie sandwich was just as good as their other offerings.  Maybe better.

The sandwich consists of roasted roma tomatoes, red pepper, and eggplant, with some peppery arugula for good measure.  It’s served on a soft, fresh bun.

Black Camel

You can choose from a variety of sauces; Toronto Life recommended the Charamoula sauce, which the menu describes as a “Moroccan-inspired mayonnaise [that] blends the flavours of garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, and smoked paprika into a one-of-a-kind topping.”  The list also recommended adding Fontina cheese, and who am I to argue with the list?

It’s a fantastic sandwich.  The veggies are all tender but not mushy, with a nice herby flavour.  They’re sweet, savoury, and absolutely crammed with flavour.

Black Camel

But it’s the Charamoula mayo that’s clearly the star of the show.  It’s zesty, spicy, and incredibly assertive without being overwhelming.  It’s one of those sauces that would make practically anything taste good; the fact that the veggies themselves are quite tasty is just a bonus.

The mild Fontina cheese adds a nice creaminess that only ups the richness from the silky mayo.  It’s a shockingly delicious sandwich.

A Decent Sandwich at Gold Standard

Gold StandardLocation: 1574 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: http://breakfastsandwich.ca/

There’s basically nowhere to go but down from Gold Standard’s breakfast sandwich.  It’s bordering on sandwich perfection.

I just tried the Sabich from Gold Standard’s new location on Queen, and yep: it’s not as good as the breakfast sandwich.  It’s not even close.

Gold Standard

The sabich, per their menu: “egg salad, fried eggplant, cucumber, pickles, parsley.”

It’s fine.  It’s decent enough, but the breakfast sandwich is clearly the thing to order here.

Gold Standard

There’s certainly nothing wrong with it; the egg salad is nice and creamy, as is the meaty eggplant.  The cucumber adds a bit of crunch, though some additional texture would be nice.

The biggest problem is that all of the components are basically on the same wavelength; the flavour is one-note.  It’s boring.  It needs some acidity to round things out.  The pickled onions add a slight vinegary bite, but there isn’t enough of them to make much of an impact.

A Delicious Veggie Sandwich at Forno Cultura

Forno CulturaLocation: 609 King Street West, Toronto
Website: https://fornocultura.com/

I recently had a seriously tasty meal thanks to Toronto Life’s list of the 25 best sandwiches in the city.  So it seemed like a safe enough bet to try another entry from that list: the melanzana from Forno Cultura, a great Italian bakery on King Street West.

It’s a roasted eggplant and zucchini sandwich with fior di latte (AKA mozzarella), Emmental cheese, and arugula.

Forno Cultura

I was tempted by the very tasty looking meatball sandwich, but I stuck with the list, and I’m very glad that I did.  The list is on a roll.  It’s an amazing sandwich.

Forno Cultura

The eggplant and the zucchini are both super tasty — they’re meaty and tender, with a very herby, garlicky flavour.  The two cheeses balance quite well, with a nice soft creaminess from the fresh mozzarella, and a sharper cheesy flavour from the Emmental.  Add in the peppery bite from the arugula, and you’ve got a tasty sandwich.

Though as good as the various fillings are, it’s the sesame-studded focaccia that’s the real star of the show.  It’s crispy, fluffy, and amazing.

Forno Cultura

The sandwich is also exceptionally oily — basically as soon as you pick it up, your hands become slick with grease.  Normally this might be a bit much, but I think that oil was also a vehicle for the aforementioned herby, garlicky flavour, because the whole sandwich was tasty and amazing.  It never feels overly oily.

I should have left it at that, but I made the mistake of getting the cornetto cioccolato for dessert.  It looked so good!

Forno Cultura

It tastes absolutely nothing like it looks.  It was barely sweet at all, and the texture was oddly crunchy and dry.  It was, weirdly enough, very similar to a pretzel.  Not a warm, fresh pretzel; the dry kind from a bag.  I don’t know if that was intentional, but I’m guessing it wasn’t because it was blatantly unappealing.  It was quite saltine-esque.

Still; it’s hard to stay mad a place that serves a sandwich that delicious.

Japanese Domination Continues at Koi Koi Sake Bar

Koi Koi Sake BarLocation: 170 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.koikoibar.com/

Joining places like Little Pebbles, Sakoshi Mart, and Millie Creperie, the Japanese domination of this stretch of Kensington Market continues with Koi Koi Sake Bar, which features a tasty selection of Japanese eats.  I, for one, welcome our new Japanese overlords.

I tried a few things.  First up was a nice little snack that every table gets by default.  I meant to ask what these were and completely forgot, but they were crunchy, savoury, and a little bit sweet.

Koi Koi Sake Bar

Next up was the katsu sando, which is a fried pork sandwich topped with a generous amount of mayo and tangy tonkatsu sauce, with some romaine lettuce for added crunch and freshness.  It’s a solid sandwich, though the pork was overcooked (I had a hard time even biting through it in parts).

Koi Koi Sake Bar

The miso nasu followed, which is a dish consisting of grilled, miso-glazed eggplant.  It feels like it’s missing something (a crunchy counterpoint to the soft eggplant, perhaps?), but it’s enjoyable enough; it basically tastes like they distilled the flavour of miso soup into a glaze and then brushed it onto an eggplant.

Koi Koi Sake Bar

The last dish was the bacon fried rice, which food writer David Ort called “possibly the best fried rice [he’s] ever had.” This is mostly what made me want to come here.

Koi Koi Sake Bar

I’m not sure if it’s the best I’ve ever had, but it was definitely top-shelf fried rice, with a nice meatiness from the generous bacon and a satisfying level of crispiness from the fried garlic slices.  The creamy mayo on top was a nice touch.

A Mixed Bag at Tabule

TabuleLocation: 2009 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://tabule.ca/

I like Tabule a lot; it’s probably one of the better Middle Eastern restaurants in the city, though this particular visit wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring.

The starter was fantastic, at least — we got the sampler platter, which came with hummus, babaganuj, and tabule.  The creamy hummus had a nice garlicky bite without overwhelming, the tabule was fresh and zingy, and the babaganuj had a mild smokiness that really set it apart.  It comes with a basket of soft, toasty pita bread.  It’s great.

Tabule

My main wasn’t quite as good.  I got the eggplant, which comes served on mujaddara, a Middle Eastern rice dish with lentils and fried onions.

The eggplant was perfectly cooked; that particular vegetable can easily be mushy, but in this dish it had a satisfyingly firm texture and an amazing creaminess.  I think it might have been some of the most well-prepared eggplant I’ve ever had.

But while it and the rice were both quite tasty, the whole dish was one-note rich; the tahini sauce didn’t do much to contrast with the eggplant and the rice.  Something with some sweetness or acidity would have really rounded things out — as delicious as it was, I was getting tired of eating it by the end of the plate.

Tabule

I had the kunafa for dessert, which was a more unambiguous failure.  I actually had this on a previous visit, and that time it had a really great balance of creaminess and crispiness, without being overly sweet.  This time?  Not so much.

But to quote LeVar Burton: you don’t have to take my word for it.  Here’s a side-by-side of the the one I just had, and the one I was served on my last visit.

Tabule

Yikes.  And it was as bad as it looked — it was absolute mush all the way through, with an unpleasantly intense, throat-burning sweetness.