Amazing Ramen at Nobuya

NobuyaLocation: 285 Royal York Road, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Ramen-Restaurant/Nobuya

Generally speaking, if Suresh Doss recommends a restaurant, I immediately add it to my list of places to check out.  The man has an almost supernatural gift for sniffing out unsung gems, and his recommendations are always stellar.

But I was particularly excited after reading his write-up on Nobuya, in which he raves about the ramen and calls the karaage “some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever have.”

Nobuya

Nobuya is an interesting place.  The restaurant is decked out in sports paraphernalia, and is entirely a one-man show.  It’s staffed entirely by the owner, who shuttles back and forth between the small dining room and the kitchen.  As you might expect, the service is leisurely, but very friendly.

I started, of course, with the karaage, which was a bit of a let-down.  It’s well seasoned, with a nice light crispiness on its exterior.  But the best versions of karaage are made with juicy dark meat; this was made with dried-out white meat.  It certainly wasn’t bad, but the dryness was a bummer.

Nobuya

But of course, the ramen is what you’re there for.  They have a few varieties on offer, but the owner identified the Tokyo ramen as his favourite, so that’s what I ordered.

Tokyo-style ramen is very, very different than the rich, hearty tonkotsu ramen that’s so omnipresent in the city; it has a much lighter consistency and a delicate flavour which makes it a very refreshing change of pace.

Nobuya

It’s also seriously delicious, with a complex meatiness, a very mild fishy funk, and a subtle sweetness to round things out.  It pulls off that delightful magic trick you’ll find in the best bowls of ramen, where every spoonful seems to bring something new to the table.

The many toppings — things like garlic, green onion, and pickled ginger — only amp up the already delightful flavour.  It’s fantastic.

Nobuya

But then there’s the noodles.  I’m assuming this was a one-time mistake (the bowl was too delicious for it to be anything but an unfortunate glitch), but the noodles in my and my dining companion’s bowl were overcooked to the point of mushiness.  Given how good the rest of the bowl was, this was particularly unfortunate.  But I guess if you’re one guy running an entire restaurant on your own, little slip-ups are bound to happen.

The chashu wasn’t great either, with a slightly tough texture and a gamy flavour.  But again, that soup was so damn good that it really didn’t matter.

Sweet Heat Sandwich from Chica’s Chicken

Sweet Heat Sandwich from Chica's ChickenLocation: 2853 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.chicaschicken.net/

I’ve written about Chica’s many times on this blog, so I’ll make this brief.

Most importantly: yes, their fried chicken is just as good as ever.  And the restaurant was packed (the other times I’ve visited it’s been half full at best), so I think the word is finally getting out that Chica’s is doing something amazing.

The sweet heat has been an occasional special up to this point, but they’ve recently added it onto the regular menu.  It is predictably delicious.

Sweet Heat Sandwich from Chica's Chicken

It’s maybe borderline too sweet, but it’s balanced out quite well by the vinegary bite of the pickled jalapenos.  It’s probably my least favourite thing on the menu, but that says more about the deliciousness of everything on offer here than it does about this particular sandwich.  It’s still incredibly good.

It’s the fried chicken itself.  It’s magical.  The contrast between the perfectly crunchy exterior and the juicy interior is the stuff dreams are made of.  If you like fried chicken and you haven’t tried Chica’s yet, you’re living your life wrong.

Mediocre Fried Chicken and Poutine at Rudy

RudyLocation: 619 College Street, Toronto
Website: http://www.rudyresto.com/

I love Rudy.  I’m on record calling their burger the best in the city.  So it pains me to say this, but the meal I just had there was not great.

To be fair, I didn’t have a burger; going to a burger joint and not ordering the burger is probably not the smartest thing in the world.

Instead, I got the fried chicken sandwich and the poutine.  Neither was particularly great.

Rudy

The chicken sandwich is dubbed the Valentino: “Fried Chicken Sandwich, Coleslaw, Valentino Sauce, Mild Hot Sauce.”  I’ve had this before and found it to be quite tasty, so maybe they were just having an off day?

The biggest issue is the chicken itself; it was dry, overcooked, and incredibly salty.

The first few bites were outright bad, but then I noticed that the two sauces were actually in little plastic containers on the side rather than on the sandwich.  I’m not sure why they did it that way (I certainly didn’t ask for that), but once I applied them both to the chicken, things improved considerably.  The tasty ranch / hot sauce combo helped to smooth over a lot of the chicken’s faults.

Rudy

As for the soft squishy bun that works so well on the burger — sadly, it has a hard time holding up to the more substantial chicken sandwich.

I also tried the poutine, which Toronto Life recently called the best in the city.  It was fine?  I guess?  The gravy was overabundant and bland, the curds were stale (no squeak to be found), and the whole thing wasn’t hot enough to even vaguely melt the cheese.  It certainly wasn’t unpleasant to eat, but it’s a far cry from the best in the city.

I should note that someone else got the burger and said it was as delicious as ever, so unsurprisingly, the burger is the thing to order at the burger joint.  Who would have guessed!

Spicy Habanero McChicken at McDonald’s

Spicy Habanero McChickenLocation: 30 Courtneypark Drive East, Mississauga
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

You might recall that last year, McDonald’s released three progressively spicier McChicken sandwiches: jalapeno, habanero, and ghost pepper.  I was, sadly, out of town when this happened, otherwise you’d better believe I would have tried all three.

Spicy Habanero McChicken

Well, McDonald’s has done me (and you?) a favour by bringing back one of them — the middle one, habanero.  I wish I could have tried the ghost pepper version, but beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

Spicy Habanero McChicken

Anyway, it’s nothing anyone should get too excited over; it’s just a standard McChicken with a creamy habanero sauce subbed in for the classic McChicken sauce.

Spicy Habanero McChicken

The sauce is pretty tasty, though.  It’s got a nice zippy flavour and a vague level of heat.

No, it’s not particularly spicy (I’d put it somewhere between mild and medium), but there’s definitely a noticeable tingle.  Between that and the slightly zestier flavour, I’d say it’s an upgrade over the standard McChicken sauce.

Maple & Cheddar Chicken at McDonald’s

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy ChickenLocation: 796 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

The Maple & Cheddar Chicken was a pleasant surprise.  “Maple” being so prominent in the name of the sandwich, I sort of figured it would be way too sweet.  And yeah, it was sweet.  But the sweetness feels relatively well tuned.

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy Chicken

The Maple & Cheddar Chicken comes topped with maple mustard sauce, “mayo-style sauce,” cheddar cheese, crispy onions, tomato, and lettuce.

It pretty tasty, though the maple mustard sauce is basically all maple with a tiny bit of mustard.  It’s a glaze.  It’s incredibly mapley, and hardly mustardy at all.

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy Chicken

But the salty chicken, cheddar, and crispy onions all do a pretty decent job of balancing out the sweetness.  It works.

Also: put crispy onions on everything, please.  They’re delicious and enhance basically everything they’re on.  Well, maybe not on dessert, but hey –who knows?  Crispy onions on a sundae?  Might work.  I can’t rule it out.