Location: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Sasaki Fine Pastry is the latest gem I’ve discovered thanks to the inimitable Suresh Doss, who specializes in sussing out the best non-Western eats in the city, usually out in the ‘burbs. If you’re on Twitter and you’re not following him, I don’t even know what you’re doing with your life.
Sasaki specializes in daifuku, a Japanese dessert in which soft, chewy mochi is stuffed with various sweet fillings. On this particular visit they had seven flavours available; I tried mango cream, strawberry cream, yuzu cream, and sesame cream.
It’s easily the best mochi I’ve ever had. I like mochi, but it can sometimes be a little too gummy. But the version here had a delightfully delicate chew that almost melts in your mouth.
The subtly sweet, creamy fillings were all great, though the strawberry — which featured a mixture of strawberry cream and sweet red bean filling — was the highlight.
I also tried the red bean and cream doriyaki, which features a filling of sweet red bean and whipped cream that’s sandwiched between two little pancakes. Like the daifuki, this was super fresh, subtly sweet, and extremely delicious.
Location: 85 Hanna Avenue, Toronto
I don’t want to get too hyperbolic here, but I’m fairly certain that I’ve seen the pancakes from Mildred’s Temple Kitchen about four billion times on Instagram. They pop up on my feed at least once a week. It’s hard to get a big group of people to agree on anything, but everyone is quite unanimous regarding the greatness of the pancakes here.
They’re not wrong.
The pancakes (dubbed Mrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes) have a really appealing balance of fluffiness and substance, with a lightly crispy exterior that’s unlike any pancake I’ve had before. The texture is almost like an incredibly light and fluffy biscuit.
It’s possible that something had gone a bit wrong, because I suspect they’re not supposed to be this crispy on their exterior (the bottom pancake in the pile was downright crunchy). And yet somehow it totally works.
The flavour is great, too — the pancakes are slightly tart from the buttermilk, with the perfect amount of sweetness from the blueberries and the maple syrup. The whipped cream adds a nice little punch of additional richness, and helps to bring all of the flavours together.
My only complaint? It’s an excessive amount of food. I wish there were a one or two pancake option, because these things are substantial, and they sit in your stomach like a ton of bricks. It’s great while you’re eating them, and unpleasant for the rest of the day.
Location: 77 Kensington Avenue, Toronto
It seems like every few months, some new food trend sweeps its way through the city. In the last couple of years we’ve had stuff like poke, chicken and waffles, Japanese cheesecakes, and sushi burritos. The latest seems to be souffle pancakes, a Japanese dessert that’s exactly what it sounds like (a cross between pancakes and souffle).
If what they’re serving at Hanabusa Cafe is any indication, this is a trend that I can get behind.
My only other experience with this dish was at a place called am.pm in Hong Kong, and that version was dense, overly eggy, and just all-around unappealing.
The one at Hanabusa Cafe, on the other hand, was the polar opposite — it was almost absurdly fluffy, with a mild sweetness and a satisfying custardy flavour without any of the in-your-face egginess you might be expecting. I ordered the Original Pancake, which is the simplest choice: it’s three pancakes topped with a dollop of whipped cream and served with a side of strawberries and blackberries. It’s outstanding.
Unlike a traditional pancake, it’s already fairly sweet, so it’s perfectly delicious on its own. I could eat about a million of these (though they’re surprisingly heavy, so three feels like a good number). The ethereal lightness combined with the custardy flavour is seriously addictive.
I’ll admit that my expectations weren’t all that high, but I really, really enjoyed this.