Location: 160 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Sukoshi Mart is a little Japanese convenience store in Kensington Market that sells hard-to-find Japanese goods. They also sell freshly-made taiyaki, a waffle-like dessert that’s traditionally filled with either red bean or custard.
I like this place. If you’re looking for Japanese snacks or candy, it’s worth a visit.
The taiyaki, on the other hand? Not so much.
It’s fine. It’s perfectly edible, but the exterior is dense and doughy, and the red bean is overly sweet. It’s also misshapen and haphazard, so it doesn’t even have the (usually) delightful visual component. It’s not the best.
Location: 13 Baldwin Street, Toronto
One of the things that takes some getting used to in Asia is that some countries there consider white bread to essentially be a dessert. More than once, I’ve gone to a convenience store and bought what appears to be a Twinkie-esque pastry, only to realize that it’s just a plain white bun, like a hot dog bun.
Which is to say that if you’ve never had the type of Japanese cream bun they serve at Hattendo, you might be surprised to discover that the bun itself is basically just a soft, fluffy hamburger bun. Once you get used to it, however, it’s quite tasty.
I tried three: custard, chocolate, and red bean. The bun itself is quite nice. It’s soft, fluffly, and just a little bit sweet.
The custard was my least favourite of the three flavours. It was nice and creamy, but the flavour was middling; there just wasn’t much to it.
The chocolate was much better, with a pronounced cocoa-infused flavour and a satisfyingly restrained level of sweetness.
The red bean was the best of the three. If you normally don’t like beany sweets, this might just be the perfect gateway dessert — it’s super creamy and tasty, with a really nice balance between the creamy custard and the sweet red beans.
Location: 1800 Sheppard Avenue East, North York (inside Fairview Mall)
It’s hard to go wrong with a Japanese cheese tart. It’s basically just a little cheesecake, and it’s delicious. If you’re a cheesecake fan, there’s absolutely no reason cheese tarts shouldn’t be in your life.
The version they sell at Pablo might not be the best one I’ve ever had, but it’s pretty darn tasty.
The filling is sweet but not too sweet, with a rich cheesecake flavour. I wish it had been a bit creamier, but it’s quite good.
The crust could have been a bit more crisp, but again, it’s very good: it’s nice and buttery, with an almost shortbread-like flavour. The crispy crust and the creamy cheesecake is a fairly irresistible combo.
Location: 408 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Like Hanabusa Cafe in Kensington Market, Fuwa Fuwa specializes in Japanese souffle pancakes, which are basically like a cross between a pancake and a custardy souffle.
I’ve already talked about Hanabusa Cafe; you can probably just read that post to get a sense of what Fuwa Fuwa is like. They’re very, very similar.
I ordered the cookies and cream, which comes with two pancakes topped with Oreo-cookie-infused cream, a whole Oreo cookie, and a scoop of ice cream on the side.
It’s quite good — the pancakes are light, fluffy, custardy, mildly sweet, and very creamy. The only noticeable difference between this place and Hanabusa Cafe are that the pancakes here are slightly creamier. I couldn’t tell if they were slightly underbaked, or if that was intentional. Either way, they were very tasty.
The cookie-laden cream compliments them well, though the ice cream was overly sweet, with an odd flavour I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Location: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (inside Square One)
Sometimes, I just don’t have all that much to say about a particular dish. When something is fine — not particularly good, but not particularly bad — it can be difficult to muster up all that much enthusiasm to write about it.
The tonkotsu ramen at Santosei is one of those dishes. The only exceptional thing about it is how exceptionally middle-of-the-road it is.
There are some things about it that I liked, however. You can choose thick or thin noodles — I went with thick, and they were chewy and satisfying. And the broth has a rich porkiness that’s pretty tasty. But it’s a bit one-note in its flavour, and it’s intensely salty.
The chasu wasn’t bad, but I think it needed to cook for slightly longer, as it had a vaguely rubbery texture. The egg was nice, but ice cold.
Even by the standards of ramen in Toronto, what they’re serving at Santosei is quite ho-hum. But… I don’t know. It’s fine, I guess?