Location: 96 Laird Drive, Toronto
Everyone loves fish and chips, don’t they? It’s one of those universally appealing meals that’s hard to truly hate. I mean, it’s a big old plate of deep fried goodness.
But it’s surprisingly difficult to find a place that does it really well (without a plane ticket to the UK, at least). It’s such a simple dish, but sometimes the simplest meals are the toughest to pull off. It’s just fish and batter; if your technique isn’t perfect, there’s nowhere to hide.
I got the haddock and chips from Olde York, and while it was certainly tasty, there were a couple of things holding it back from being much better than okay.
A lot of fish and chips joints tend drop the ball with the batter itself; so many places over-apply it, resulting in a thick and crunchy shell that overwhelms the fish. And while Olde York isn’t the worst offender in this regard, the batter was definitely too substantial.
It’s also easy to overcook the fish, and alas, that was an issue here as well. It wasn’t too blatant, but it was dryer than it should have been.
I don’t want to make this a complain-a-thon, because I actually did enjoy it… but the fries could have been crispier and the tartar sauce was way too sweet.
But that’s the thing about fish and chips: even when it’s not perfect, it’s still so satisfying.
Location: 170 Baldwin Street, Toronto
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Location: 3120 Rutherford Road, Vaughan
You can’t go wrong with doughnuts. Let’s face it: pretty much any time you fry dough and then add sugar to it, it’s going to be good.
So of course, most countries have their own take on the doughnut, because again: you cannot go wrong. Literally cannot.
Greece’s version is called loukoumades, which is essentially a doughnut hole that’s been tossed in honey and seasoned with cinnamon. It’s great (at least if the version they serve at Loukoumania Cafe is anything to go by).
I actually liked it a lot more than I was expecting to (and I was expecting to like it). The loukoumades were hot and fresh, with a pronounced outer layer of crispiness. The contrast between the crispy exterior and the fluffy, chewy interior was extremely satisfying.
The flavour was great too, with the perfect amount of honey; it’s nice and sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. And the cinnamon takes it over the top. It’s fantastic.
They have various sauces and toppings you can add to your loukoumades, but since they’re so great on their own, this seems superfluous. You also have the option to get them on top of ice cream. I did this (because I can’t say no to ice cream); it was a huge mistake.
I won’t even mince words: the ice cream was flat-out horrible. It was cloyingly sweet and thin, with almost zero creaminess. It was almost as bad as what I recently had at Kiss the Tiramisu, which is saying a lot.
The doughnuts are so good, though. Just skip the ice cream and get more of them.
Location: 2853 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Well, I’ve now tried everything on the menu at Chica’s Chicken, which means I can say the following with a reasonable amount of authority: it’s the best. The literal best.
I honestly can’t recall having better fried chicken anywhere in the city. It’s everything you’re looking for: it’s got that amazing crispy crunch, it’s so damn tasty, and the chicken itself is ridiculously moist. Perfection.
I got the wings this time; an order comes with four giant wings, and it’s an absurd amount of food. They don’t cut the wings into segments like most places — it feels like a pain at first, but it gives you more of that crispy, crunchy skin.
You also get a side, and two slices of plain white bread. For 16 bucks, it’s a absolute steal considering the quantity and quality of the food.
Sorry, every other chicken wing I’ve ever had: you’re absolute garbage compared to what Chica’s is serving.
I got it hot AF; as on my previous visits, they aren’t kidding around with the heat. It hurts so good.
I think I’m ready to install a cot in the back of the restaurant so that I can eat all my meals here. Will I die of a massive heart attack by my 40th birthday? Probably. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
Location: 619 College Street, Toronto
I recently named Rudy the best burger in Toronto. So from now on, I’m always going to be afraid that, one day, they’ll lower the quality of their hamburgers and make me look like an idiot.
That day may come. It hasn’t yet.
I just went back, and I can confirm that it’s as great as ever. The burger is still juicy, beefy, and amazing. And that crust from the griddle? Bonkers. Absolutely bonkers.
I mean, look at that. It’s perfect.
Along with the burger and fries, I tried the deep-fried pickle chips, and they were pretty great too — particularly when you dip them in the tasty ranch sauce that comes on the side.
Fried pickles is one of those things that sounds weird until you try it, and you realize that it’s actually amazing. I wish the batter here was a little less chewy and a bit more crunchy, but aside from that they were tasty and addictive.