Board the Sushi Train at Hana Sushi

Hana SushiLocation: 21 Grenville Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/hanasushicafe/

Hana Sushi is gimmicky AF.  But it’s fun.  It’s essentially a conveyor belt sushi place, but all of the food you order comes on a tiny little train that runs on a separate set of tracks.

Hana Sushi

You also order everything on a tablet, so if you want to eat sushi with as little human interaction as possible, this is your place (though the waitress has to explain the whole system to you, and then brings your bill at the end of the meal, so it’s not quite a human-free experience).

Hana Sushi

As for the sushi itself: it’s fine.  It’s about on par with the hundreds of passable sushi joints across the GTA, so it’s really only the gimmick that sets it apart.  The rice was underseasoned and a little bit too dense, but the quality of the fish was decent, and the rolls were well put-together.

Hana Sushi

I had a variety of nigiri and rolls; the only one that really stood out was the torched salmon, which had a nicely smoky flavour from the flame, but which was still melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Tasty Slices at Superpoint

SuperpointLocation: 184 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.superpoint.ca/

Getting a reheated slice from a pizza place can be a bit of a dicey proposition.  Reheat a slice for too long and it becomes overly stiff and crunchy; not enough, and the cheese’s goo-factor isn’t there.  Or worse: it’s clammy.

And if the pizza sits on the counter too long, it eventually passes a point of no return; it can only ever be a shadow of its former self.

The slice I just had at Superpoint avoids all of these pitfalls.  It was one of the best reheated slices of pizza I’ve had in ages.

Superpoint

I think it’s the ultra-thin crust; the guy didn’t put it in the oven for much more than 30 seconds, but thanks to how thin it was, that was more than enough to heat it through and re-gooify the cheese.

The crust was actually pretty great, with a pronounced crispiness on its exterior that never felt overly crunchy or crackery.  It still had a pliable chewiness that complimented the crispy exterior perfectly.

This particular slice was pretty simple, with just tomato sauce, cheese, spicy sopressata, and a light sprinkling of parmesan and dried herbs.

Superpoint

It was fantastic.  The salty sopressata contrasted very nicely with the simple, slightly sweet tomato sauce, and there was the perfect proportion of cheese and sauce.  It was one of the better slices I’ve had in quite a while.

Bonus: it only cost five bucks (and that includes tax) for a slice of pizza bigger than my head.

Double bonus: it’s a five minute walk from Bang Bang, which means that for less than ten bucks, you can have a delicious slice of pizza and a scoop of the best ice cream in the city.  That’s about as perfect of a lunch as I can imagine.

Delicious and Unique pasta at Shiso Tree Cafe

Shiso Tree CafeLocation: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/ShisoTree/

Italian/Japanese fusion might sound odd on paper, but aside from the fact that Italian restaurants are actually quite popular in Japan, Shiso Tree Cafe is amazing.  All you need is one bite of their food to put any doubts to bed.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I tried a couple of starters: the tera-goma tebasaki (perfectly cooked chicken wings with a crunchy exterior and an addictively sweet glaze) and the tarutaru fries (amazing fries with homemade tartar sauce for dipping).  But their pasta is the real reason to come here.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I had the nori tsukudani: “braised nori sauce, onsen tamago, ikura, scallops, mentsuyu.”

It was so good, with the vibrant Japanese flavours making it really stand out from your average bowl of pasta.

The braised nori sauce tasted exactly how you’d hope it would: like nori, but in sauce form.  There’s something a bit odd (and very delightful) about taking such a familiar flavour and putting it in a new context.

Shiso Tree Cafe

And the onsen tamago (which is kind of like a silkier version of a poached egg, with a white that’s just barely set) was the perfect compliment.  It essentially liquefies into the pasta, coating the noodles and giving them an eggy richness.

The sweet, perfectly-cooked scallops match really well with the seaweed-infused sauce, and the greens add crunchy pops of freshness.  The pasta itself is, as you’d hope, perfectly al dente.

It’s certainly an unusual bowl of pasta, but it’s one where all of the flavours have been so perfectly considered.  It’s amazing.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I finished with the chestnut creme brulee, which was a fairly ingenious spin on a classic dessert; the rich chestnut flavour complimented the custard perfectly, and the crackily torched sugar on top was as satisfying as ever.

Tasty Arepas at Maiz

MaizLocation: 3220 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://maizlatinfood.ca/

Maiz is a new-ish Latin joint on Yonge street with a variety of tacos, burritos, and arepas on their menu.

I tried an arepa and quite enjoyed it, but the menu is clearly hit-and-miss.  I went with a group of four; two of us got arepas and enjoyed them mightily.  The other two got a burrito and a veggie bowl and found them to be mediocre at best.

Maiz

So who knows!  I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant where the group was so sharply divided, but the only thing I tried was the arepa, and it was quite tasty.

Specifically, I tried the adobo arepa, which features a whole bunch of braised pork crammed into a toasty arepa (which is a thick corn flatbread traditionally served in Columbia and Venezuela) and topped with pineapple.

Maiz

The pork was delicious; it had a zippy flavour from the adobo marinade and a very mild kick.

The texture was great –it was shredded, but not too finely, with a nice mix of lean and fatty pieces.  And it had obviously been crisped up on a griddle, with crispy pieces throughout.

The pineapple chunks were a bit too large, and the arepa itself wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked, but all in all it was a tasty dish.

Average Mexican Food at Cinco Mexican Restaurant

Cinco Mexican RestaurantLocation: 131 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.cinco.restaurant/

Cinco is an unassuming Mexican restaurant on Roncesvalles that’s been serving up tacos and rotisserie chicken for about a year.  Nothing about it particularly stands out, but if you’re in the area, I’m sure you could do worse.

I tried a couple of things.  The first was the cochinita pibil taco: “marinated braised pork in adobo, six hour slow-cooked pork belly, queso oaxaca, topped with habanero onions.”

Cinco Mexican Restaurant

It wasn’t bad, though I wish they had taken the same amount of meat and split it into two tacos, because it’s kind of absurd.

The bites where you get a bit of everything — the shredded pork, the cilantro, the pickled onions — are really good.  But there’s such a heaping mound of meat that many (most?) of the mouthfuls are pork, pork, and nothing but pork.

Cinco Mexican Restaurant

This wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing, but the pork was quite dry despite being shockingly greasy (seriously, the amount of oil dripping out of the taco was insane.  The entire plate was swimming in it by the time I finished).

Still, it was tasty enough — the adobo-braised pork was tasty, the two blue corn tortillas were nice and fresh (the thin layer of cheese between them was a nice touch, but it was a bit too subtle to add much to the overstuffed taco), and the mouthfuls with a bit of everything had a nice balance of richness from the meat and acidity from the pickles.

Cinco Mexican Restaurant

I also tried the the chicken quesadilla, a daily special.  This was a bit of a head-scratcher; it was filled with pieces of plain chicken, and… that’s about it.  No cheese, no other ingredients (that I could taste, at least), just a whole bunch of stale-tasting chicken chunks.  But it was fine, I guess — especially once I started dipping it into the pool of porky grease from the taco.