Location: 25 Sherway Gardens Road, Etobicoke
Amaya is a (usually) decent quality chain that (usually) serves tasty Indian fare. But the Sherway Gardens location is… odd. I tried it when it first opened, and the food was so atrociously bad that it was nearly inedible.
I figured they deserved another chance — new restaurants often need a month or two to work out all the kinks. I just tried the rogan josh, which features big chunks of lamb in a mildly spicy curry sauce on top of basmati rice.
Yeah, it was pretty bad. It’s so weird, because the other Amaya locations I’ve tried have been pretty reliable, but the Sherway Gardens location is almost like a completely different restaurant.
The flavour of the curry wasn’t bad, but the chunks of lamb were mostly tough and rubbery (with a few tender pieces interspersed throughout to mix things up), the rice was ice cold, and when I got to the bottom of the bowl, there was a big pool of greasy water that was tremendously off-putting.
Location: 3401 Dufferin Street, North York (inside Yorkdale Mall)
Mii is a small fast food chain specializing in quick Vietnamese eats. As far as I know it’s only in mall food courts, which kinda makes you think it’s not going to be very good.
(Also, the name seems like a lawsuit from Nintendo waiting to happen. It’s a bit puzzling.)
Well, I just tried their classic banh mi, and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. It’s certainly not the best banh mi I’ve ever had, but it gets pretty much everything right, and very little wrong.
Basically: it’s not the bastardization you’d expect from the food court in Yorkdale. It’s legit.
It’s seven bucks, so it’s somewhat pricey by banh mi standards, but it’s a hefty sandwich; considering the location, you really can’t expect it to be much cheaper.
Everything is as it should be: a nice slathering of butter, a healthy amount of chunky pate, a variety of cold cuts, and a good proportion of veggies and cilantro. There was some kind of dark sauce that was a little bit too sweet for my taste, but aside from that, it was a tasty sammich.
The baguette was quite good, too; maybe a little bit too crunchy on its exterior, but otherwise soft and fresh.
Location: 4350 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
I’ve had a lot of noodles over the course of my life, but — until now — I don’t think I’d ever tried potato noodles.
As the name implies, potato noodles are made with potato starch, which gives them a much, much chewier consistency than the norm.
Though I’ve heard good things about the cold noodles Potato Noodle Soup of Bai, I decided to go with the noodle soup — mostly because “noodle soup” is right there in the name.
I got the plain potato noodle soup, which comes with noodles, meatballs, fish balls, half an egg, and various odds and ends in a fiery broth.
The noodles are really interesting. There’s a Korean dish called jjolmyeon that features noodles that are so incredibly chewy you have to cut them with scissors before you start eating. These kind of reminded me of a thicker, slightly less chewy version of those.
The broth was a bit saltier than I’d like, but it was otherwise quite tasty, with a spicy kick and an almost creamy richness that you only get from a stock that’s been simmered for a long, long time.
The whole thing was fairly tasty, though with Sun’s Kitchen just a few steps away, I don’t know that I’d ever eat here again.
Location: 105 McCaul Street, Toronto
I’ve already talked about Manpuku, so I’ll keep this brief. I went back and tried the shigure don, and just like the udon I tried on my last visit, it was absolutely delicious and delightfully cheap.
The shigure don consisted of a heaping pile of tasty, well-marinated beef and onions atop a generous portion of rice. The beef looks a bit dry in the picture, but it was actually super tender, and surprisingly packed with flavour. And the soft, tasty onions compliment the beef perfectly.
It cost $6.49. I mean, come on, Manpuku — now you’re making all the other restaurants look bad. I’ve frequently paid three or four times as much money for meals that weren’t half as good as what they’re serving here.
Location: 111 Richmond Street West, Toronto (in the Assembly Chef’s Hall)
I got nervous when, after I ordered my chicken sandwich from Love Chix, they opened a drawer filled with pre-cooked chicken pieces and then dunked one in the fryer to reheat it.
Thankfully, it certainly could have been worse, but the chicken was dry and overcooked, and it’s easy enough to see why. This might have been less of an issue if they started with dark meat, which has a bit more leeway during the cooking process before it dries out. But it was white meat, and “moist” was not a word in its vocabulary.
The sandwich was otherwise quite tasty. It’s tossed in a honey hot sauce and topped with buttermilk ranch, coleslaw, and arugula. The honey flavour was quite pronounced, but there was enough of a spicy kick and a vinegary bite to balance out the sweetness. The creamy ranch and the peppery arugula helped to round things out. It was actually quite tasty.
And while the crunch factor wasn’t quite as pronounced as it could have been, it was certainly satisfying.
I just wish the meat itself weren’t so dry. I certainly understand why they serve their chicken this way; people might get impatient to wait the almost ten minutes it would take to fry a piece of chicken from scratch. But I wish they’d give you a choice.