Maple & Cheddar Chicken at McDonald’s

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy ChickenLocation: 796 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

The Maple & Cheddar Chicken was a pleasant surprise.  “Maple” being so prominent in the name of the sandwich, I sort of figured it would be way too sweet.  And yeah, it was sweet.  But the sweetness feels relatively well tuned.

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy Chicken

The Maple & Cheddar Chicken comes topped with maple mustard sauce, “mayo-style sauce,” cheddar cheese, crispy onions, tomato, and lettuce.

It pretty tasty, though the maple mustard sauce is basically all maple with a tiny bit of mustard.  It’s a glaze.  It’s incredibly mapley, and hardly mustardy at all.

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy Chicken

But the salty chicken, cheddar, and crispy onions all do a pretty decent job of balancing out the sweetness.  It works.

Also: put crispy onions on everything, please.  They’re delicious and enhance basically everything they’re on.  Well, maybe not on dessert, but hey –who knows?  Crispy onions on a sundae?  Might work.  I can’t rule it out.

Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries at McDonald’s

Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries at McDonald'sLocation: 30 Courtneypark Drive East, Mississauga
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

The Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries aren’t the most exciting new item at McDonald’s — they’re just fries with some seasoning on them.

And when I popped open the box, I was skeptical.  The way the spice blend was mounded onto the fries, there was no way they could be good.  That’s too much seasoning, isn’t it?

Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries at McDonald's

They were actually pretty tasty.  The profound amount of seasoning on the fries (particularly the ones on top) made me assume that the flavour was going to be overwhelming, but it was more subtle than I was expecting.  There was a lot, but it worked.

The seasoning is lightly zingy, with a decent chipotle flavour and a mild hit of spice.  It’s not too salty, which is good because if it were, it would have been inedible.

Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries at McDonald's

The effect is basically like a cross between a flavoured bag of chips and French fries.  It’s quite tasty.  The only real downside is the presence of garlic and onion powder in the spice mix, which means you’re going to be stuck with a lingering aftertaste for hours after you eat it.

The Sad Decline of Paramount

ParamountLocation: 1290 Crestlawn Drive, Mississauga
Website: http://www.paramountfinefoods.com/

You’ll notice that I only have the one photo from Paramount, of a partially eaten take-out box of a dozen falafel.  I wasn’t planning on blogging about this one, but I think I kinda have to?

Paramount makes me sad.  The one I visited, in an industrial area of Mississauga, is actually the first location of the now omnipresent chain.  Back before they started expanding, it was a fantastic restaurant — easily some of the best Middle Eastern food in the GTA.  Every time I went there, the place was absolutely slammed.  It was so good, and people couldn’t get enough of it.

Then, of course, they started expanding, and the quality started to go downhill.  Slowly at first, but the decline was unmistakable.  The crowds thinned out, but it was still popular enough.

The last time I was there, maybe about a year ago, the food was clearly inferior to its highs in the pre-expansion days, but it was still pretty decent.

I just went to pick up an order of a dozen falafel, and the place was an absolute ghost town.  It’s easy enough to see why; it was quite possibly the worst falafel that I’ve ever had.  It was dense and dry, with an unpleasantly crumbly texture that sucks all the moisture out of your mouth.  It tasted wrong and stale despite being fresh from the fryer.

As for the weirdly sour tahini sauce and the bland pita bread, the less said the better.

I think I’m done with Paramount, and considering how good it used to be, that makes me sad.

Tasty Chicken at Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice

Yang's Braised Chicken RiceLocation: 780 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga
Website: http://yangschicken.ca/

Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice is a Chinese chain that recently opened seven simultaneous locations in the GTA.  Opening one restaurant is tricky enough; I can’t even imagine what must go into opening so many at the same time.

Whatever kinks they had (and there must have been kinks) since opening in September have clearly been worked out; the food and service were both top-notch.  Apparently they have over six thousand locations worldwide, so I guess opening seven more is no big deal.

Yang's Braised Chicken Rice

As you can probably guess from the name, Yang’s specializes in braised chicken rice, a dish in which tender, saucy braised chicken is served with a bowl of rice.

You can either get it standard or boneless (I went with the former), and you can pick your spice level (I picked “authentic,” which was actually quite mild; I’ll probably go spicier next time).

It seemed a bit simple at first, but it really grew on me; by the time I was done, I was 100 percent into it.

Yang's Braised Chicken Rice

The chicken is quite tender, and has a nice soy-sauce-infused flavour from the braising liquid.  Combined with the rice and the richly flavourful sauce, it’s surprisingly addictive.

Oddly enough, however, the chicken wasn’t the highlight — it was the slices of mushroom in the sauce.  These things do an amazing job of soaking up all the flavour from the dish; they’re basically chewy little flavour bombs.  They’re delightful.

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles at Gol’s Lanzhou Noodle

Gol's Lanzhou NoodleLocation: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (inside Square One)
Website: https://lanzhou.ca/

There’s something both delightful and bizarre about the presence of Gol’s Lanzhou Noodle in Square One’s food court.  It’s hard to imagine a place serving legit Chinese hand-pulled noodles — nestled between a KFC and a cheesesteak joint — being able to exist in a suburban shopping mall like Square One even just a decade ago.

But it’s here now, and it’s surprisingly great.

Gol's Lanzhou Noodle

I had the beef noodle soup, and I was shocked at how good it was.  It’s not the best bowl of noodles you’ll ever eat, but it’s seriously tasty for something in a mall’s food court.  It’s not even in Square One’s fancy new “Food District” — it’s in the plain old food court, right near places like A&W and Manchu Wok.

(Sorry, I know I’m harping on its location, but it kinda blows my mind.)

Gol's Lanzhou Noodle

And yes, they serve real-deal hand-pulled noodles; they’re freshly pulled to order, and you can watch them do it (which is always an oddly hypnotic display).

It’s a tasty bowl.  The soup is a bit too salty, but it has a clean beefy flavour with a nice hit of freshness from the cilantro.  It comes with a healthy amount of chili oil on the side; I wish this stuff were spicier (it’s just barely hot), but it has a fantastic smoky/savoury flavour that really kicks up the flavour of the soup.

Gol's Lanzhou Noodle

The sliced beef had a slight leftovery flavour, but was otherwise tender and enjoyable.

And the medium-thick noodles are great.  They were ever-so-slightly on the soft side, but they were nice and hearty, with a satisfying level of chew.