Cookies and Cream at Ice Creamonology

Cookies and Cream at Ice CreamonologyLocation: 1184 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.icecreamonology.com/

Ice Creamonology had only been around for a few months when, after what sounds like a pretty horrifying dispute with their landlord, they had to move out of their spot on Queen’s Quay. That’s a bummer, but they seem to have landed on their feet, with a new location on the west end right next to Chen Chen’s.

Their rotating menu mostly consists of old standbys like pistachio, dark chocolate, and vanilla; I kept it pretty simple with Cookies and Cream, which they describe as coming with “real Oreo pieces and Oreo crumbs.”

Cookies and Cream at Ice Creamonology

Nothing about the flavour particularly blew me away, though to be fair I’m not sure what you could do with cookies and cream to make it mind-blowing. It features a pretty perfect amount of cookie pieces; it’s enough to give it a nice Oreo-infused flavour, but not so much that it overwhelms the ice cream.

And the quality of the ice cream is pretty decent, though the flavour is a bit muted and it’s gummier than I’d like (it’s much stretcher and chewier than your average scoop).

Tasty Dipped Sandwiches at Hot Dip

Hot DipLocation: 1186 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.instagram.com/hotdiptoronto/

Hot Dip is a new sandwich shop on Queen Street that specializes in meaty sandwiches you can dip into things, and yeah, gimme that. That’s a genius idea.

They actually only have four sandwiches on the menu (at the moment, at least), which I appreciate. I always freeze like a deer in headlights when I see a menu with dozens of things on it — I know that everything on this huge menu cannot possibly be great, so just tell me what the good stuff is and what I can ignore.

Hot Dip

Focusing on only a few things solves this problem entirely.

I ordered the Hot Dip (because you should always get the menu item that shares a name with the restaurant) which is a roast beef sandwich with horseradish mayo topped with crispy onions and served on a pretzel roll. The dip, in this case, is sharp cheddar.

Hot Dip

It’s a very good sandwich. The thinly-sliced roast beef is super tender with a nice beefy flavour, and there’s a generous amount of it — the menu says eight ounces (i.e. half a pound, i.e. a lot of beef), and based on how substantial the sandwich is, I have no reason to believe they’re skimping on the meat.

The pretzel roll is just as good as the beef. Sometimes pretzel bread can be a bit on the dense side, but this struck a great balance between softness and heft, with a lightly crispy exterior.

Hot Dip

As for the dip, weirdly enough it’s the weakest part of the sandwich. Despite being called “sharp cheddar” it has a thoroughly mild flavour — it basically has the taste and texture of watered-down Cheez Whiz. It mostly just adds moisture to the sandwich, but between the fresh bread and the tender meat, it doesn’t particularly need it.

My other big issue: it’s an incredibly heavy sandwich, and it really needs something acidic to cut through the overwhelming richness. I guess the horseradish mayo is supposed to fill this role? But it’s completely overwhelmed by all the beef; you can barely even tell that it’s there. It’s certainly not a deal-killer (it’s still very tasty), but it makes the sandwich feel a bit one-note rich, which is a shame.

Subtle, Tasty Ramen at Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Hakata Shoryuken RamenLocation: 225 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.hakatashoryuken.com/

A lot of times, the broth in a bowl of Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen can be overwhelmingly porky.  The one-note pork flavour can get a bit wearying.

I’m normally not a big condiments guy — I’ll just eat it as it comes — but with this type of ramen, condiments tend to be necessary.  In particular, pickled ginger does a good job of adding some vibrancy and cutting through the soup’s richness.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Oddly, however, the Hakata ramen at Hakata Shoryuken Ramen has the opposite problem; the flavour isn’t in-your-face at all.  It’s surprisingly mellow.

It’s unexpectedly low-key, but quite tasty.  The soup is nice and creamy, and though the porky flavour is subtle, it’s definitely there.  It’s not going to knock anyone’s socks off, but it’s a pleasant bowl of soup.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

The pickled ginger was still necessary, however — it gave the soup some welcome pops of flavour.  It’s a fifty cent add-on, but it’s worth ordering.

The egg was another add-on ($1.50), and it wasn’t great.  It was bland, and the texture was just odd — it was somewhere between an onsen tamago and a traditional ramen egg, and it wasn’t as good as either.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Everything else was solid.  The chashu, in particular, was tender, tasty, and perfectly fatty.  The noodles were slightly too soft, but otherwise got the job done.

Delicious Roti at My Roti Place

My Roti PlaceLocation: 406 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://myrotiplace.com/

I’ve heard basically nothing but good things about My Roti Place, a rapidly expanding chain that specializes in spice-packed roti.  I feared it might have been overhyped, but yeah: it’s very good.

My Roti Place

You can choose your roti, your meat, and your sauce; I went pretty basic with Mom’s Classic Curry with chicken, wrapped in a classic roti.  The spice level is also customizable, with mild, medium, serious, and extreme being options.  I figured extreme might be a bit too intense, so I went with serious.

My Roti Place

I guess should have gone with extreme; the “serious” level of heat turned out to be not-so-serious.  It was noticeably hot, but I’d put it on the upper level of mild.  A bit more spice would have been nice.

I may as well get my other complaint out of the way.  The chunks of chicken, though generous, are dry and leftovery.

My Roti Place

Everything else about this was fantastic.  The roti was nice and chewy, and complemented the vibrant curry perfectly.  And that curry was outstanding; I’m happy to overlook any number of minor complaints when the curry is that tasty.  I don’t care what you serve a curry that good with; it’s automatically going to be delicious.  The curry has an amazing depth of flavour that I couldn’t get enough of.  It’s serious business.

A Sandwich with Issues at Parka Food Co.

Parka Food Co.Location: 424 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.parkafoodco.com/

I don’t know what it is about “plant-based” restaurants serving sandwiches with overly dense buns, but I had that issue at Planta, I had it at Fresh, and now it’s happened again at Parka Food Co.

Is it the plant-based thing?  The lack of dairy?  Or is it a coincidence I’m reading too much into?  I don’t know.

(Also, whichever marketer came up with the term “plant-based” to make veganism sound more hip and healthy: kudos to you.  You have succeeded beyond your wildest dreams.)

Parka Food Co.

I tried the broccoli sandwich at Parka Food Co., which comes with “lightly battered broccoli, cashew cheese sauce, dill pickles, sauteed onions, roasted garlic, lettuce, parka aioli,” and it was mostly decent enough — but then there was that bun.

It’s all about Newton’s third law of motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The bun is so firm and dense that the force of you holding it and biting into it has nowhere to go but down into the components of the sandwich.  A normal bun would absorb some of that force, but not this one.

Instead, everything gets squished out within a couple of bites.  I had to eat the sandwich with a fork and knife.  It’s not a big deal, but I kinda wanted to eat my sandwich like a sandwich.

Parka Food Co.

Aside from that, it wasn’t bad.  The broccoli has a nice crispy, battered exterior, and the inside is perfectly cooked — it’s tender but not mushy, with a satisfying bite.

The cashew “cheese” sauce is basically just a thick, gooey paste, without a whole lot of cheese-like properties.  But it’s fine on the sandwich.

And the sweet aioli and the pickles do a nice job of cutting through the richness of the fried broccoli and the “cheese.”  It’s a pretty good sandwich… or at least it would be if you could eat it like a sandwich.