Delicious Roti at D Hot Shoppe

D Hot ShoppeLocation: 4155 Fairview Street, Burlington
Websitehttps://www.dhotshoppe.com/

I showed up at D Hot Shoppe at around 2:00 on a weekday, and it was absolutely packed.  They also had a section of the wall dedicated to framed plaudits from various publications (which didn’t even include the article that brought me here in the first place).

D Hot Shoppe

Suffice it to say, I was fairly certain I was in for a tasty meal.

I ordered the small chicken roti, which costs seven bucks and is actually quite generous, so it’s a great deal.

D Hot Shoppe

They have six heat levels you can choose from, ranging from mild to suicide — I went with hot, which is right in the middle.  It was a great level of heat.  It’s noticeably spicy, but not unpleasantly so.

D Hot Shoppe

It’s very, very easy to see why the place is so popular.  Everything was just right, from the richly flavourful curry sauce, to the big chunks of tender chicken and potato, to the satisfyingly chewy, spice-packed roti shell.

It’s a fantastic, affordable lunch.  What’s better than that?

Amazing Noodle Soup at I Love Pho 2

I Love Pho 2Location: 1248 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Website: None

I’ve always liked Vietnamese food, but I feel like I’ve spent the majority of my life seriously underrating it.  I’ve recently discovered that Vietnamese cuisine can be downright magical, with a vibrancy and depth of flavour that’s irresistible.

And there’s so much more to it than the obvious choices like pho and banh mi (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those dishes).

I Love Pho 2

Case in point: the bun rieu at I Love Pho 2, a zingy noodle soup made with a tomato- and crab-based broth that’s absolutely crammed with stuff: sliced beef, sliced pork, ground pork, tomato, blood cake, fried tofu, fried onions, fresh herbs, and a whole plate’s worth of crunchy veggies, not to mention the heaping portion of soft, chewy rice noodles.

I Love Pho 2

It’s amazingly good.  There’s a really delightful variety of flavours and textures — sometimes, the meat in a soup like this can taste off or be a little tough, but everything here was great.

It’s the broth, however, that makes this dish so special.  It has a really rich seafood/crab flavour, with a nice zinginess from the tomato and a mild sweetness that rounds things out.  It was incredibly satisfying.

I Love Pho 2

It was also an amazing value — I got the medium size, which cost about ten bucks and came with an almost comically oversized bowl that was filled to the brim and absolutely crammed with noodles and various meats.

Decent Thai Food at Pai

PaiLocation: 18 Duncan Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.paitoronto.com/

After recently having a mind-blowing meal at Khao San Road (which is just around the corner), I decided to Thai it up again, this time at Pai.  Alas, the meal was quite tasty, but it wasn’t even close to being on the same level as KSR.

I ordered the Pad Gra Prow — “holy basil stir fried with your choice of ground pork, chicken, beef or tofu, steamed jasmine rice, thai style fried egg, nam prik nam pla sauce.”

Pai

I went with pork, and elected to go Thai spicy, which is the highest spice level.

And indeed, they were absolutely, positively not kidding around with the spice.  I enjoyed the level of heat, but then I’m somewhat of a glutton for punishment in that regard (see also: my undying love for the “hot AF” chicken at Chica’s Chicken).

Pai

Sadly, aside from the impressive level of fiery heat, nothing about this dish particularly stands out.  It’s perfectly tasty, but none of the flavours pop, even when you add the fish sauce that comes on the side.  It’s a serviceable dish, but it’s boring.

Contrast that with the life-changing bowl of Khao Soi that I had at Khao San Road, and there’s no contest.

Of course, it’s not a fair comparison since the two dishes are so radically different.  But my dining companion had the pad thai at both restaurants and was able to make a 1:1 comparison.  He had the same reaction — Pai is fine, but KSR is magical.

Always Bet on Black at iHalo Krunch

iHalo CrunchLocation: 318 Queen Street West (inside Lululemon)
Websitehttps://www.ihalokrunch.com/

I’m very late to the party on the charcoal cones at iHalo Krunch.   But hey, if you’re curious about that thing you saw all over Instagram last year, here I am to talk about it ridiculously late.

Would it surprise you to hear that this Instagram-famous ice cream cone is all style, no substance?  Because at this point, it probably shouldn’t.

It’s fine — but of course, the most interesting thing about it is the way it looks.

iHalo Crunch

I ordered the black on black, which is coconut flavoured soft serve made jet black thanks to “activated charcoal” (which is basically edible charcoal with some alleged health benefits) served in a charcoal cone.

The ice cream has a pleasant coconut flavour, but there’s really not much to it.  It’s also way too thin, with a distinct lack of creaminess.

The cone is fine. It’s a cone that happens to be black.  Nothing else about it stands out.

And of course, I don’t think I saw anyone order it and not take a photo, because why else would you order this thing?  It’s essentially an edible prop.

Veal Sandwich Greatness at Uno Mustachio

Uno MustachioLocation: 95 Front Street East (inside the St. Lawrence Market)
Websitehttp://www.unomustachio.com/

I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve been eating sandwiches at Uno Mustachio, but it’s been at least a couple of decades, if not longer.

Actually, “sandwiches” isn’t right.  Sandwich.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one thing to order at Uno Mustachio: the veal and eggplant sandwich.  The other sandwiches and pastas they have on the menu might be delicious; I’ll never know.  I don’t go there nearly often enough to mess around.  Veal and eggplant for life.

Uno Mustachio

It’s a simple enough sandwich: a fried veal cutlet, a couple of slices of fried eggplant, sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms, a generous ladle of tomato sauce, and some hot peppers if you feel like kicking it up a few notches.  It’s all served on a crusty roll that does a great job of holding up to the very messy sandwich without falling apart.

It’s as delicious now as the day I started going there.

You can get fried veal sandwiches all over the city, but (and maybe this is my nostalgia talking), Uno Mustachio is the king.  All of the components are so well prepared, and they all compliment each other so well.

Uno Mustachio

The simple but rich tomato sauce is great, and — this is key — they apply it to the top and bottom of the sandwich instead of dunking the fried components right in.  This allows the sandwich to be nice and saucy, but prevents the crispy fried bits from sogging up.

The creamy eggplant compliments the meaty veal perfectly, and the whole thing feels so well balanced despite how hefty and messy it is.  It’s easily one of the best sandwiches in the city.