Location: 4300 Steeles Avenue East, Markham (inside Pacific Mall)
There are few things that are more satisfying than a really good bowl of chewy, hand-made noodles. And Sun’s Kitchen in the Pacific Mall definitely knows how to do it.
If you come at the right time, you can see the noodle maker doing his thing; he pulls the dough again and again and again until a thick piece becomes a handful of noodles, almost as if by magic. It’s the work of a man who has clearly spent years mastering his craft, and it’s a sight that’s as hypnotic as it is impressive.
I’ve been here at least a dozen times, and I order the same thing every time: noodles with spicy pork. I’m occasionally tempted to order something else, but the spicy pork is so damn good, and I don’t come here enough to mess around.
It’s an exceptionally simple dish; it’s just spicy ground pork, a whole bunch of noodles, and some sliced cucumber to cut the richness and the heat of the pork.
It’s outstanding. The pork is salty, spicy, and intense. It’s the perfect foil for the amazingly chewy noodles.
It comes with a cup of sweet, citrusy soy milk. I didn’t like it at first, but now I can’t get enough. It also comes with a bowl of bland soup that I’m not crazy about. I keep meaning to tell them to hold the soup, but I always forget.
Location: 4750 Yonge Street, North York (in the Emerald Park food court)
I recently blogged about the tasty Chinese crepes at the Emerald Park food court. Also at that food court? Nanashake, which serves vegan, banana-based soft serve and shakes.
I almost got the soft serve (because I have a very hard time saying no to soft serve of any kind), but then I remembered that “shake” is right there in the name of the restaurant, so I got one of those instead.
They have a few different flavours — strawberry, pistachio, date, etc. — but the guy behind the counter said chocolate was the most popular, so that’s what I went with.
It was quite refreshing. It tasted more like a smoothie than a milkshake (it is vegan and made predominantly with bananas, after all), but whatever it is, it’s good. The banana/chocolate flavour was satisfying, and its level of sweetness was much more subtle than a typical milkshake. It probably won’t satisfy an all-out dessert craving, but it’s a refreshing and tasty beverage that I’d happily drink again.
Plus, it is (presumably) healthy; something that’s good for you and actually tastes really good is always nice.
Location: 9 Bogert Avenue, North York (in the Emerald Park food court)
There’s a Chinese street food called jian bing that’s fairly ubiquitous in China, but virtually unknown over here. And I’m not sure why — it’s super delicious, and it’s cheap and relatively easy to make.
That’s why I was so excited when I found out that a little place called Gao’s Crepe in the Emerald Park food court serves these things.
That food court is hidden away on the bottom level of a condo near Yonge and Sheppard; you’d never even know it’s there if you’re not specifically seeking it out. But it’s a gem. Aside from the crepes, there’s several interesting-looking eateries here, mostly Asian.
Gao’s Crepe doesn’t even have a sign, and there’s no English menu posted — again, if you didn’t know it was there, you’d pass right by. But the jian bing they’re serving is the real deal.
Jian bing is essentially an eggy crepe that’s coated with hoisin sauce and hot sauce, sprinkled with green onions and cilantro, and wrapped around a crispy piece of fried dough. The version at Gao’s Crepe is freshly made right in front of you (you can watch the chef doing his thing).
It’s quite tasty. The contrast between the chewy crepe and the crispy fried dough is really satisfying, and the vibrant flavours of the hoisin and the hot sauce matches well with the freshness of the green onions and the cilantro.
It’s not as good as the versions I had in Shanghai — it’s a little dry, and the balance of flavours feels just a bit off — but then that sort of comparison is always unfair. We’re a million miles from Shanghai, and it’s quite good.
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: 1550 South Gateway Road, Mississauga
Driving by, you wouldn’t be blamed for completely missing the food court in Dixie Park. Housed in a nondescript building in a somewhat industrial stretch of road along Dixie, it doesn’t look like much. The seemingly perpetual construction right outside certainly doesn’t help matters.
Those who venture inside will find a pretty good Asian food court. It’s generally nothing you’d want to go too far out of your way for, but most of the vendors here serve decent quality Chinese food (they’re mostly Chinese, with one Vietnamese place and one Japanese), with cheap prices and voluminous portions.
The best one is easily Dynasty B.B.Q. (Well, there was a Korean place that I used to really like — their pork bone soup was particularly delicious. Sadly, it closed down and was replaced by the aforementioned Vietnamese place. R.I.P., Korean place. You are missed). They have a typically comprehensive menu, though the real gem is the dish that comes with a combo of roast pork and BBQ pork.
Featuring a heaping portion of both types of pork served on top of rice (it also comes with a cup of mediocre soup that you should probably skip altogether), it’s a steal at $5.50. Though the less showy BBQ pork is certainly tasty and absolutely worth eating, it’s the roast pork that is the real reason to come here. I can’t claim to be an expert on this particular dish, though I have had it at a few different places. This is the best version of it that I’ve had. Perfectly cooked and yieldingly tender, with a satisfying layer of unctuous, melt-in-your-mouth fat, not to mention the salty, addictively amazing crispy, crunchy skin, it’s pretty outstanding.