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.