Location: 160 East Beaver Creek Road, Markham
Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine is a dim sum joint that does well. We showed up at around 10:40 on a Saturday, and the place was seriously crowded. By the time we left, it was even more packed, with a crowd waiting for tables almost going out the door.
Eating the food, it’s easy enough to see why. Some highlights:
The char siu was sweet and incredibly tender.
These fried seafood-filled tubes were nice and crispy on the outside, with a fishy (but not overbearing) flavour.
The fried dough noodle rolls were probably the best version of that dish that I’ve ever had, with a surprisingly complex flavour and a very satisfying contrast of textures between the chewy noodle, the crispy fried exterior, and the soft interior.
I really should have taken a picture of the interior of these salted egg buns, because they were absolutely crammed with an oozy, sweet custardy filling.
There were only a couple of weak dishes — surprisingly, they were the dim sum standbys that you’d think they’d work especially hard to get right. The har gow featured an overly thick, almost gummy wrapper encasing overcooked shrimp.
And the pork buns featured a filling that tasted a bit too leftovery.
Still, they were only two mild weak points in a meal that was otherwise quite stellar.
Location: 3797 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
I’ve mentioned before that frozen custard is almost impossible to find in the city. Which is completely baffling, because we have about a million ice cream shops. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have a bunch of places serving delicious frozen custard.
As far as I know, we have two: Rita’s, an outpost of an American chain near Kensington Market, and now Woodfire Sandwich Co.
If you’re not familiar with frozen custard (and if you’re living in Toronto, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what it is), it’s basically like regular ice cream, but made more luxurious and creamy with the addition of egg yolks.
Woodfire serves chocolate, vanilla, and a rotating feature flavour. You can also add a variety of optional toppings. I just got plain vanilla so I could bask in the sweet, sweet, custardy glory without anything getting in the way.
It’s good. It’s not quite as tasty as basically any frozen custard I’ve had in the States, but it’s legit. It’s got a pronounced custardy flavour and a satisfyingly silky texture. It could be creamier, and eating it gets a bit one-note sweet after a while, but all things considered, I enjoyed it.
Hey, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s frozen custard and it doesn’t require that I drive hundreds of kilometres to the States. I’ll take it.
Location: 3255 Highway 7, Markham
Though there are a ton of amazing restaurants in the First Markham plaza, you’re going to have a hard time topping Mei Nung Beef Noodle House, which specializes in Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
The beef and beef tendon noodle soup is where it’s at. You can choose from rice noodles, glass noodles, or homemade noodles, and the choice is clear — you’ve gotta get the homemade noodles. They’re thick and hearty, with an amazingly satisfying level of chewiness. They’re so good.
But then everything about this bowl is so good. The broth is ridiculous: it’s beefy, zippy, and immensely flavourful.
You think it can’t possibly get any better, and then you add a spoonful of their wonderfully smoky chili oil, and lo and behold — it gets better.
The chunks of beef are super tasty and enormously tender, though the tendons are the real star of the show. They’re so perfectly cooked that they’re essentially like meat butter. They’re soft and unctuous and amazing.
They’re also super tasty; they do an impressive job of absorbing all of the seasoning in the soup. They’re squishy, melt-in-your-mouth flavour bombs.
It all adds up to a bowl of noodle soup that’s easily one of the best in the GTA. I challenge you to find a substantially better bowl of beef noodle soup — even with a plane ticket to Taiwan.
Location: 633 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Ice cream is the best. And while what they’re serving at Put A Cone On It probably isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, it’s above average ice cream. Which means that, yes: it’s the best.
Plus, they make their own ice cream, which is always nice. There’s nothing more disheartening than going to an ice cream shop only to realize that they’re serving commercial stuff like Kawartha or Nestle. I can buy that at the supermarket. Get out of here with that.
They have a handful of dairy and non-dairy flavours available; I tried the roasted banana, which is one of the dairy options.
It’s quite tasty. True to its name, it has a very pronounced banana flavour that almost reminded me of banana bread, only with a more amplified fruity flavour.
The texture was ever-so-slightly icy, and it could have been richer, but it was quite good. Like I said: it probably won’t be your favourite ice cream in the city, but you’re definitely going to enjoy eating it.
Location: 319 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
The cinnamon roll from Cinnaholic is shockingly good. Not that it’s the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had, but it’s vegan. You’re bracing for the worst when you hear that a traditionally dairy-heavy dessert has been made vegan. How could that possibly end well?
Cinnaholic, somehow, pulls it off.
It’s an interesting set-up; they have a few dozen different frosting and topping choices (if there’s a dessert topping you can think of, they probably offer it here). I wanted to see what the deal was with the roll itself, so I went as simple as possible with the “Classic Old Skool Roll,” which is topped only with vanilla frosting.
I won’t lie: I was expecting it to be dense and dry and weird, but it was pleasantly light and fluffy, with a nice cinnamon flavour and a great level of sweetness. It’s very, very sweet, but it’s not quite the throat-burning assault of sugar that you’ll get with something like Cinnabon.
The frosting is quite tasty, too — it’s rich and creamy, but also incredibly soft and light. I have no idea how they achieve that texture without dairy (I’m assuming margarine is involved), but whatever it is, it tastes pretty darn good.
That’s the surprising thing about it. Yes, it’s vegan, but it’s not good for a vegan dessert; it’s good, period.