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: 1626 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
I don’t have much to say about the almond croissant at Patisserie la Cigogne other than that it was delicious and you should eat it.
It was really good, though.
I mean, almond croissants are just generally great; if they’re done well, they’re an amazing combo of crunchy, crispy, buttery, and sweet. And I honestly can’t remember the last time I had one this good — the croissant was flaky and super buttery, and there’s a very generous amount of the sweet almond filling.
I mean, look at all that filling that’s oozed out and become crunchy and caramelized. The best. There’s also a generous amount of filling inside the croissant that’s nutty and creamy and sweet. Also the best.
(The whole thing was pretty much the best, so like I said earlier, you should probably go eat one.)
Location: 921 Queen Street West, Toronto
Agora is a delightful little take-out gem from the people behind Mamakas Taverna. As you might imagine, they serve tasty Greek eats. The menu’s a bit more interesting than the typical gyro joint, with sandwiches, salads, and more substantial meals like moussaka or roasted chicken. They have a few stools by the window, but for the most part it’s take-out only.
I tried the spanakopita, which is a mixture of spinach and feta wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry. It was one of the better versions of that dish that I’ve had. The filling was rich and satisfying, with lots of spinach flavour and nice pops of saltiness from the feta. And the super crackly pastry shell was ridiculously buttery, with about a million paper-thin layers of crispy, crunchy goodness.
I also sampled the briam, which the woman behind the counter described as a Greek version of ratatouille. And it was indeed extremely ratatouille-esque, with perfectly-cooked, flavour-packed chunks of zucchini and eggplant, among other vegetables.
Location: 120 Dundas Street West, Toronto
The lemon meringue croissant from Butter Baker is one of those things that I saw on Instagram and immediately had to eat. And yes, I know: this makes me part of the problem.
A very strong argument could be made that social media (Instagram in particular) is making our cuisine appreciably worse by incentivizing restaurants to serve visually innovative food in which the actual taste is an afterthought (e.g. Sweet Jesus).
And that’s absolutely the case here. I mean, look at that! It looks so impressive! But it gets less impressive once you start actually eating it.
For one thing, it’s almost impossible to eat without getting sticky meringue all over your face. But let’s set that complaint aside, because a lot of cupcakes are just as hard to eat without making a mess, and only a monster would argue that a cupcake isn’t great.
The two main issues here are that the croissant itself is merely okay, and the lemon curd filling is completely bland. The latter point is especially egregious; the whole appeal of a lemon meringue pie is the delightful way that the tartness of the lemon curd is offset by the sweetness of the meringue. But here, the curd is disappointingly anemic, with a limp sugariness and almost no sour bite. Because of this, the whole thing comes off as one-dimensionally sweet and boring.
I will, however, give Butter Baker props for the use of creamy Italian meringue over frothy, dull French meringue. This is correct; French meringue is for jerks.
Location: 7355 Bayview Avenue, Thornhill
They sell something called Chocolate Buffalo at Bagel Nash, a bakery in Thornhill. I really don’t have a whole lot to say about it, but here’s a few points:
- I hadn’t even heard of a Buffalo pastry up until this point.
- It was bad.
- No, like really bad.
- Like, I tried it, I had a few other people try it, and then I threw it in the garbage. That bad.
- It was incredibly dry (it was possibly one of the driest pastries I’ve ever had), and it didn’t taste nearly as deliciously chocolatey as it looked. It was mostly just sour, oddly. It tasted a bit like an enormous rugelach — but then I’ve never had a rugelach that bad.
- I have no idea if it’s an acquired taste or if it was just terrible, and I don’t particularly care to find out. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever try a Buffalo again.