A Solid Wrap at Charcoal Biryani

Charcoal Biryani
: 111 Richmond Street West, Toronto (inside the Assembly Chef’s Hall)
Website: https://www.charcoalbiryani.ca/

I recently found myself in the Assembly Chef’s Hall, and I figured I’d check out whichever vendor was the busiest.  This was — by far — Charcoal Biryani, though that might be because they seemed to be a bit frazzled; it took about forty minutes (!!) between getting in line and getting my food, which seems to defeat the whole point of an ostensibly grab-and-go concept like this.

Charcoal Biryani

Still, it was pretty tasty.  They serve biryani, along with a variety of kebabs that you can either get as a wrap or in a meal with rice.  I was planning on getting the original kebab wrap, but this was sold out, so I went with the chicken tikka wrap instead.

Charcoal Biryani

I wish the chicken were dark meat instead of vaguely dry breast, but otherwise I quite enjoyed this.  As the name of the restaurant implies, they cook the chicken over charcoal, which gives it a delightfully smoky flavour.  Otherwise it’s pretty by-the-numbers, but that pronounced flavour from the grill really elevates it.

Charcoal Biryani

I also got an order of fries that I forgot to photograph, which the menu advertised as two dollars but which the apologetic woman behind the counter explained is actually six.  Inflation, I guess??  Anyway, just picture McDonald’s fries (but worse) with a sprinkling of sumac on top.  This would have been worth the advertised two dollars, but six might be a bit much.

On Hiatus (and a few quick reviews)

I’m traveling, so this site is going into hibernation for a while.  Feel free to follow my travels at Up in the Nusair (or don’t, I can’t force you… or can I??  No, I can’t… yet).

But first, here’s a few very quick reviews of places I didn’t get a chance to write full posts for before I left.

Cafe Landwer

Cafe Landwer

I actually visited this place a couple of times recently.  The first time I had the shakshuka, which was quite tasty and comes with an almost absurd amount of food.  It’s a little bit bland, but it comes with an ample amount of fresh bread for dipping, and the tahini sauce helps amp things up.

Cafe Landwer

The second time I had the Sinia Kebab, which features beef kebabs and some grilled veggies on top of freshly baked flatbread, topped with a tahini sauce.  This was quite tasty, though it really needs something acidic to cut through the richness.  I eventually wound up spooning in some of the salad that comes on the side.  I’m not sure if that’s the intent, but it helped.

Jelly Roll from Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons

It’s a jelly roll from Tim Hortons; it tastes exactly how you think it’s going to taste.  It’s basically a very minor upgrade over Little Debbie.  It’s pretty junky, but I enjoyed it.

Pho from I Love Pho 2

I Love Pho 2

I already wrote about the surprisingly great I Love Pho 2, and the pho confirms it: this is a place that knows their stuff.  The broth has a really great flavour, and the variety of meats they mix in are all perfectly cooked and tasty.

SoSo Food Club

SoSo Food Club

I tried a handful of dishes at SoSo Food Club.  Everything was tasty, but the highlight was the addictively cumin-tinged lamb biang biang noodles.  The strong cumin flavour, the tender lamb, and the extra-broad noodles all work very well together.  The mapo tofu, with its numbing heat and silky tofu, was another highlight.

The Drake Commissary

The Drake Commissary

The bread here is amazing.  Like at Terroni, you have to pay for it, but unlike at that place, it wasn’t infuriating.  It was well worth paying for.  I came here at brunch and had the trapper beans, which had a lot going on, but everything worked perfectly together.  In particular, the beans had a savoury richness (and a complete lack of sweetness) that made them quite unlike any baked beans I’ve had before.

Mango Pancakes from HK Sweets

HK Sweets

This was fine, I guess.  I actually had mango pancakes in Hong Kong, and they were ridiculously good.  I was hoping these would recapture that, even slightly, but no such luck.  Aside from the fact that they’re not actually pancakes (they’re crepes), the mango was underripe and crunchy, and I think the cream was actually Cool Whip or something similar.  Still, it was decent enough for what it was.

Chicken Shawarma from Ghadir Meat & Restaurant

Ghadir Meat & Restaurant

Oh man, this shawarma.  I actually visited this place based on a tweet from Suresh Doss — he called it the best shawarma in the GTA, which should really tell you all you need to know.  The man knows his food, and he’s certainly not wrong about Ghadir.  It’s amazing.  It’s got the perfect blend of tender meat with lots of crispy bits, tasty sauces, and fresh veggies.  If it’s not the best shawarma in the GTA, it’s certainly a very strong contender for that crown.