Location: 55 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto
They sell Taiwanese-style wheel cakes at Formocha (which are essentially pancakes that are cooked in a circular mold with a sweet filling) and they’re mostly pretty good. But there are a couple of issues.
The first (and biggest) issue? Red bean wasn’t a filling choice, at least when I went. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to deduct about a million points for its absence. I mean, come on. It’s the classic filling. Red bean or GTFO.
I wound up trying custard, and Oreo custard. They were both tasty enough, but (and here’s the second issue) the custard tasted off. There was something weird about it, with an almost fruity flavour that was vaguely off-putting.
The Oreo was much better — rather than the chunks that you might expect, it was filled with an entire cookie, which was surprisingly delightful.
Plus, the cakes themselves were super fresh (they cook them to order), with a slightly crispy exterior and a fluffy interior. They were good, but… come on. Red bean. Give it to me.
Location: 1060 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto
I think a really good peanut sauce is one of those things that can make pretty much anything taste delicious. It really doesn’t matter what it is; slather enough peanut sauce on it, and hey, what do you know, it’s delicious now. How about that.
Case in point: the Nimman long song at Nimman Thai, which features some kind of saucy chicken on top of rice, with a side of Chinese broccoli and, of course, the aforementioned delicious peanut sauce.
The chicken was tough and its sauce was pretty bland, but once you dip it into the intensely flavourful peanut sauce, you’re off to the races. That peanut sauce! I would have dipped anything into that.
I got the dish as part of their lunch special, which is actually a really great deal — for twelve bucks, you also get a bowl of soup, a salad, and a spring roll. The soup was pleasantly zingy, and the salad had a really interesting dressing that tasted strongly of fish sauce.
The spring roll, on the other hand, had a funky flavour and an overly thick wrapper. It wasn’t great, and since the peanut sauce wasn’t on the table yet, I couldn’t even dip it into that to save it.
Location: 3507 Bathurst Street, North York
I assumed I was in good hands when the woman behind the counter at Gouter spoke with a heavy French accent. Not that every French person can automatically make delicious pastries, but it made me think that the place was probably legit.
Yeah, about that.
I had the raspberry croissant, and it was fine. I certainly didn’t dislike eating it. But there wasn’t a single element that was better than okay.
The first sign that something was amiss was the paper bag it came in. The croissant was in there for about twenty minutes before I ate it. A good croissant should be buttery enough to immediately leave grease stains on a paper bag, but that bag was pristine.
The second sign that something was amiss came when I tore it in half and saw that it was filled with about a jar’s worth of raspberry jam. That’s too much jam. And I mean, it wasn’t unpleasant to eat, but there’s no balance there.
And as suspected, the croissant — though mildly buttery — wasn’t nearly buttery enough. It also had zero exterior crispiness other than at the very ends, and was generally lacking in flavour.
The overall experience was basically like eating a slice of Wonder Bread slathered with raspberry jam. There just wasn’t much to it — the lack of textural contrast and the one-note flavour was a bit of a bummer.
Location: 160 East Beaver Creek Road, Markham
Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine is a dim sum joint that does well. We showed up at around 10:40 on a Saturday, and the place was seriously crowded. By the time we left, it was even more packed, with a crowd waiting for tables almost going out the door.
Eating the food, it’s easy enough to see why. Some highlights:
The char siu was sweet and incredibly tender.
These fried seafood-filled tubes were nice and crispy on the outside, with a fishy (but not overbearing) flavour.
The fried dough noodle rolls were probably the best version of that dish that I’ve ever had, with a surprisingly complex flavour and a very satisfying contrast of textures between the chewy noodle, the crispy fried exterior, and the soft interior.
I really should have taken a picture of the interior of these salted egg buns, because they were absolutely crammed with an oozy, sweet custardy filling.
There were only a couple of weak dishes — surprisingly, they were the dim sum standbys that you’d think they’d work especially hard to get right. The har gow featured an overly thick, almost gummy wrapper encasing overcooked shrimp.
And the pork buns featured a filling that tasted a bit too leftovery.
Still, they were only two mild weak points in a meal that was otherwise quite stellar.
Location: 3797 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
I’ve mentioned before that frozen custard is almost impossible to find in the city. Which is completely baffling, because we have about a million ice cream shops. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have a bunch of places serving delicious frozen custard.
As far as I know, we have two: Rita’s, an outpost of an American chain near Kensington Market, and now Woodfire Sandwich Co.
If you’re not familiar with frozen custard (and if you’re living in Toronto, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what it is), it’s basically like regular ice cream, but made more luxurious and creamy with the addition of egg yolks.
Woodfire serves chocolate, vanilla, and a rotating feature flavour. You can also add a variety of optional toppings. I just got plain vanilla so I could bask in the sweet, sweet, custardy glory without anything getting in the way.
It’s good. It’s not quite as tasty as basically any frozen custard I’ve had in the States, but it’s legit. It’s got a pronounced custardy flavour and a satisfyingly silky texture. It could be creamier, and eating it gets a bit one-note sweet after a while, but all things considered, I enjoyed it.
Hey, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s frozen custard and it doesn’t require that I drive hundreds of kilometres to the States. I’ll take it.