Location: 333 Dundas Street East, Mississauga (inside PAT Supermarket)
Kevin’s Taiyaki is inside the PAT Supermarket in Mississauga, which is a pretty trippy place to visit. It’s basically like stepping through a portal into South Korea. When I went, every other person — both customer and employee — was Korean, and the only language I heard spoken was Korean. PAT has a downtown location as well, but I’ve never quite had the same experience there.
I have a definite fondness for South Korea (I think it’s an underrated travel destination), so that was delightful.
Like the downtown PAT, there’s a location of Kevin’s Taiyaki right inside the supermarket, which specializes in red bean or custard filled pastries.
I got the red bean, and it was very, very good. It was freshly made, with a nice crispy exterior, fluffy pastry (if you’ve never had taiyaki before, it’s extremely waffle-like), and a delicious red bean filling. The red bean had a restrained level of sweetness and a chunky (but still smooth) texture that was extremely satisfying.
Taiyaki is one of those dishes that’s very simple and rarely bad, but difficult to do really well. Kevin’s Taiyaki does it really well.
Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto
Though the fried chicken sandwich at Porchetta & Co. used to be one of the best in the city, sadly, I think those days are long gone. The last few I’ve had have been nothing too memorable — and that includes the Korean fried chicken sandwich, one of their recent specials.
The sandwich, per their menu: “Sweet & Spicy Korean Chili Sauce, Lettuce, Pickles, Kimchi, Cilantro, Green Onion Lime Mayo, Milk Bun.”
It was fine. It certainly wasn’t out-and-out bad; the rich mayo and the sweet chili sauce are a tasty combo, and the pickles and the kimchi do a good job of cutting through the richness. I wish it had been spicier (the spice level was basically at a vague tingle), but it was tasty enough for what it was.
The chicken was a bit of an issue, however. It wasn’t quite as crispy as you’d like, and the meat itself was pretty tough.
The bun was probably decent at some point, but it was stale and dry.
Though I didn’t hate eating it, the sandwich added up to a whole bunch of meh. I think I’ll probably stick with the porchetta from now on, which is still great.
Location: 3235 Highway 7, Markham
The Cups is a little dessert shop in the First Markham plaza that specializes in bingsu, a tasty Korean shaved ice dessert.
I generally liked shaved ice, though sometimes, it’s a bit watery. The Cups has a fairly ingenious solution for this issue: they use milk instead of water for their ice, which gives the dessert a much richer, creamier consistency.
I ordered the mango bingsu, which features mango chunks, cheesecake chunks, condensed milk, mango sauce, and whipped cream.
It’s quite good. The mango pieces are ripe and sweet, and the ice-to-stuff ratio is pretty much right on point. Plus, the aforementioned milk ice ensures that the whole thing has a satisfyingly creamy consistency.
On another visit, I tried the red bean, which features soybean powder, mochi cubes, almond flakes, red bean, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think I might have liked it even better than the mango, though the ice-to-stuff ratio was a bit off. It needed a bit more red bean (I don’t think there was any in the middle).
Location: 2651 Yonge Street, Toronto
Milkcow Cafe is a South Korean soft serve chain — a concept which, thanks to Kiss the Tiramisu, now fills me with horror. I actually have a great deal of fondness for South Korea, but the ice cream at Kiss the Tiramisu was so profoundly awful that it made me lose a little bit of respect for the whole country. Just the absolute worst.
Thankfully, Milkcow Cafe is quite good. They have a variety of ice cream creations, all featuring a base of their “organic milk soft serve.” I went with the Milky Cube, which is drizzled with honey and topped with a big chunk of honeycomb.
They’re not kidding around with the milk thing — the ice cream is really unique, with a subtle sweetness and a pronounced milky flavour. It actually tastes like drinking a glass of milk, but in ice cream form. There’s no vanilla flavouring to get in the way; just pure milky goodness. It could have been creamier, and the texture was vaguely icy, but for the most part it was quite satisfying.
The honey had a nicely floral flavour and added a good punch of sweetness, but honestly, the ice cream itself was so interesting I would have been okay eating it on its own.
Location: 5130 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Ah, Chowhound. As a resource for discovering hidden gems, it is second-to-none. Case in point: Chodang Soon Tofu.
The place specializes in fiery red soups that come to the table in a piping hot stone bowl; it’s a roiling inferno of a soup that is pretty much guaranteed to burn your tongue. As I’ve had the soup here a couple of times (and it is quite tasty, despite the pain), I decided to get something different. I went with the Tofu Kimchi, which is a bit more expensive than the other items on the menu at $12.98 (all the soups are eight bucks).
Korean food is traditionally served with a variety of side dishes — banchan, in Korean — and they definitely don’t skimp on that here. Before the main course, we received soft, fresh tofu with a soy-sauce based dipping sauce, two different types of kimchi, bean sprouts, and a breaded, fried fish. All tasty stuff, and all free with the meal, so it’s a pretty great value.
And as it turns out, the Tofu Kimchi was more expensive because it is clearly meant to be shared. I’m not sure if the picture adequately conveys the scale of this dish, but it was massive. I got about halfway through and had to throw in the towel.
It’s a fairly simple dish; stir-fried kimchi with thin strips of pork belly and green onions, surrounded by soft, creamy tofu. It seemed a bit simple when I first started eating it, but the spicy kimchi and pork mixed with the creamy tofu turned out to be a suprisingly addictive combo.