Quick Bites: King’s Tacos, Bakerbots Baking, Hanyang Jokbal

King's Tacos
Tacos at King’s Tacos

The most interesting thing about the tacos at Kings Tacos might just be the way they serve them — an order comes with a very generous platter of meat (in this case the King’s Special, which comes with pork, beef, chorizo, onion, bacon, and cheese) and tortillas on the side, and you build it yourself.  It’s interesting, and it’s a great value, because that pile of meat is not kidding around.  That’s not to mention the very generous bowl of free (and tasty!) tortilla chips and sauces that comes with the meal.  It’s not just a good value, however: it’s quite tasty, too.

Bakerbots
Cinnamon Bun at Bakerbots Baking

I’ve heard the cinnamon bun at Bakerbots referred to as one of the best in the city, and yeah, that sounds about right.  It’s absolutely fantastic, with a slightly crispy exterior and a gooey (but not overly gooey and sweet, like a Cinnabon) interior.  The pastry itself is top-notch, with a nice chewy texture and a flavour that ensures that the cinnamon bun isn’t just one-note sweet.  Is it the best in the city?  It could be!

Hanyang Jokbal
Jokbal at Hanyang Jokbal

I mean, look at that glorious pile of pork.  Do you even need me to say anything?  Jokbal is a Korean dish featuring braised pig trotters; I tried the half and half, which is half jokbal and half bossam (pork belly, if I recall correctly).  You eat it wrapped in lettuce with some of the tasty sides and condiments on the table, and yeah.  It’s delicious.  Again: look at it.

Tasty Noodle Soup at Szechuan Noodle Bowl

Szechuan Noodle Bowl
Location
: 400 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Website: https://szechuannoodlebowl.com/

Look, I’m a simple man.  If you slap a bowl of freshly-made noodles in front of me, my level of happiness is going to go up by like a hundred percent.  Szechuan Noodle Bowl — which, as the name implies, specializes in bowls of freshly-made noodles — makes me a happy man.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

I ordered the Hand-Made Noodles, which comes spicy or non-spicy with your choice of topping (beef, ground pork, pork intestines, Chinese pickle, or chicken).  I went spicy with ground pork, and yeah, it’s good.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

Those noodles are great — they’re thick, chewy, and satisfying.  The soup is mildly spicy and has a nice zippy flavour, and the generous amount of tasty ground pork complements it perfectly.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

I wish there had been some chili oil on the table — the soup was spicy, but could have been kicked up a bit — but aside from that it was a top-notch bowl of noodles.

Outstanding Pastries at Barbershop Patisserie

Barbershop Patisserie
Location
: 859 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://barbershoppatisserie.square.site/

I’m sorry to have to inform you, but this is one of those “stop whatever you’re doing right now and visit this bakery” moments, so whatever you’re doing right now — even if it’s important — stop it immediately.  Get in your car, or get on public transit, and head over to Barbershop Patisserie.  It’s the real deal.

Barbershop Patisserie

I’ve been there a few times now, and everything is fantastic.  Apparently their most popular pastry is the lemon bichon, which is kind of like a kouign-amann — it features a flaky, croissant-like laminated pastry and an exterior layer of crispy sugar, which has a deep, dark caramelized flavour.  But it’s also filled with a generous amount of creamy, tart lemon curd, which contrasts perfectly with the sweet exterior.  It’s not the most photogenic dessert ever, but man it’s amazing.  It’s probably one of the best pastries I’ve ever had.

Barbershop Patisserie

The chocolate chip cookie isn’t quite as mind-blowing as the lemon bichon (what is?), but it’s a top-notch cookie, with a great contrast between its crispy exterior and chewy interior, and a very generous amount of above average chocolate.  The light sprinkling of salt on top helps to balance things out.

Barbershop Patisserie

I also tried the wild blueberry custard tart, and hey, guess what?  It’s delicious.  It features a great balance between the creamy custard and the sweet blueberries, and of course that buttery pastry is outstanding.

Barbershop Patisserie

But why are you still reading this?  You should be on your way already.

Tasty Korean Stew at Insadong

Insadong
Location
: 4941 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.insadongrestaurant.com/

When you’re in the mood, there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a hearty, flavourful, bubbling hot Korean stew.

(Well okay fine, as a person who generally doesn’t like food to be so hot that you’re at risk of burning yourself, I could do without the “bubbling hot” part — but since the hot stone bowl is part of the package, I guess I’ll allow it.)

Insadong

I ordered the ugeojikug, which the menu describes as “cabbage hangover soup made in a beef broth with rice.”

It’s very good.  The soup is absolutely crammed with cabbage and sliced beef, and the broth is slightly spicy and profoundly beefy.  The beef was a bit on the tough side, but everything else is so tasty that this is never a particularly big deal.  In particular, the soup itself has a very satisfying beefy flavour; they could have served that broth on its own and I would have left happy.

Quick Bites: Sarpa Restaurant, Burger Drops, El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Sarpa Restaurant
Franco Fries at Sarpa Restaurant

This place probably deserves more than a quick bite review, but it’s one of the many restaurants I visited while this blog was on hiatus, and this seems like it’s better than nothing.  I tried a few things here, and everything was quite good, but the highlight was clearly the Franco Fries: “hand cut fries, parmesan cheese, truffle-honey essence.”  This seems like an odd thing to order at an upscale Italian restaurant, but trust me — you need these fries in your life.  The fries themselves are perfectly cooked, with a crispy exterior and creamy interior, but it’s that truffle-honey essence that really makes these things sing.  I’m normally not crazy about anything with truffle oil (most truffle oils have never seen an actual truffle in their life), but this didn’t have that flavour at all; it was garlicky, a little bit sweet, and thoroughly addictive.

Burger Drops
Burger and a chicken sandwich from Burger Drops

I tried a couple of things at Burger Drops.  The first was the original burger, which features “griddled sweet onion, American cheese, house pickles, Drop sauce, toasted potato roll.”  It’s a solid burger — the patty has a nice crust, a decent beefy flavour, and the toppings suit it well.  It’s a bit on the dry side and nothing about it really jumped out at me, but it’s a tasty burger.  If I had been reviewing it for my burger blog, I’d give it a solid three out of four.  The other thing I tried was the chicken sandwich, which is odd, but tasty.  The odd thing about it: it’s not a traditional fried chicken sandwich.  Instead, it’s basically a gourmet McChicken, right down to the reconstituted chicken patty.  It’s a fun novelty and a big step above its fast food inspiration, but I’m not sure that I’d ever elect to eat this over a standard fried chicken sandwich.

El Pocho Antojitos Bar
Chilaquiles at El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Chilaquiles is one of those dishes that really deserves to be a bigger deal.  It’s such a simple dish: it’s just tortilla chips tossed in a zingy sauce.  At El Pocho Antojitos Bar, it’s also topped with crema (I think?  It’s been a while), cheese, and a fried egg.  The sauce thoroughly coats the chips, softening them a bit, though they do still retain a bit of their crunch.  It’s a thoroughly satisfying dish.