Tasty Chicken at Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice

Yang's Braised Chicken RiceLocation: 780 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga
Website: http://yangschicken.ca/

Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice is a Chinese chain that recently opened seven simultaneous locations in the GTA.  Opening one restaurant is tricky enough; I can’t even imagine what must go into opening so many at the same time.

Whatever kinks they had (and there must have been kinks) since opening in September have clearly been worked out; the food and service were both top-notch.  Apparently they have over six thousand locations worldwide, so I guess opening seven more is no big deal.

Yang's Braised Chicken Rice

As you can probably guess from the name, Yang’s specializes in braised chicken rice, a dish in which tender, saucy braised chicken is served with a bowl of rice.

You can either get it standard or boneless (I went with the former), and you can pick your spice level (I picked “authentic,” which was actually quite mild; I’ll probably go spicier next time).

It seemed a bit simple at first, but it really grew on me; by the time I was done, I was 100 percent into it.

Yang's Braised Chicken Rice

The chicken is quite tender, and has a nice soy-sauce-infused flavour from the braising liquid.  Combined with the rice and the richly flavourful sauce, it’s surprisingly addictive.

Oddly enough, however, the chicken wasn’t the highlight — it was the slices of mushroom in the sauce.  These things do an amazing job of soaking up all the flavour from the dish; they’re basically chewy little flavour bombs.  They’re delightful.

The New “Hotter and Juicier” Big Mac

McDonald's - New Improved Big MacLocation: 2510 Hampshire Gate, Oakville
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

McDonald’s is making a big hullabaloo about their “remastered” classic burgers (the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and the Cheeseburger).  This includes a promotion where you can get a Big Mac for three bucks, so I figured it was worth a shot.

The improvements, according to McDonald’s:

  • 100 per cent Canadian beef patties now cooked in smaller batches for hotter and juicier beef
  • Storage changes for fresher and crisper produce
  • Onions added directly on the patties on the grill to intensify flavour
  • More of our legendary Mac Sauce applied on Big Macs
  • New bun recipes for warmer buns

I got a Big Mac, and… I don’t know.  It’s a Big Mac?  It tastes like a Big Mac?  I’m sure if I were that guy who eats multiple Big Macs every day, it would have blown my mind with all the little differences.  But it’s been a year or two since I’ve had one.  It tasted exactly the same to me.

McDonald's - New Improved Big Mac

Actually, that’s not entirely true — it’s clearly saucier.  The amount of sauce is kind of insane.  It oozes out of the burger with every bite.  It’s a mess.

Obviously the dry, mostly tasteless McDonald’s patties need a lot of help (and no, they are absolutely not juicier in any discernible way).  But even still, this was overkill.

The only other change that stood out were the onions; you could tell just by looking at them that they had been put on the griddle.  They had a bit of colour to them.  But if that made any particular difference to the flavour, I certainly couldn’t tell.

Still, it wasn’t bad.  I liked the Big Mac before, and I like it now — but I guess I prefer the old version, because the amount of sauce on the new one is bonkers.

A Simple (but Delicious) Sandwich at Mattachioni

MattachioniLocation: 1617 Dupont Street, Toronto
Website: http://www.mattachioni.com/

If it weren’t for Toronto Life’s list of the best sandwiches in the city, there’s no way I would have ordered the mortadella sandwich at Mattachioni.  Aside from the fact that the pizzas looked very, very good, the mortadella sandwich is quite bare bones — it’s just mortadella and fresh mozzarella on tomato focaccia bread.

Mattachioni

But of course, sometimes the simplest things are the best.  If you’re dealing with really good quality ingredients, less is more.

The contrast between the tender, salty mortadella and the creamy mozzarella works really well (fresh mozzarella has a radically different texture than the rubbery shrink-wrapped balls at the supermarket — it’s soft, creamy, and luxurious).

Mattachioni

The fluffy, slightly chewy focaccia is quite good too, though I wish it had a bit more texture (it was soft throughout).  It was also soaked through with olive oil; it gives the sandwich a nice greasy heft, though it might have been a little bit too much of a good thing.

Still, it’s a very tasty sandwich.  I don’t think I’d put it on my list of the best in the city, but I don’t begrudge anyone for putting it on theirs.

Mattachioni

I also got to try a little bit of the Margherita pizza, which was absolutely outstanding (I didn’t take a picture of that one, sadly, so you’ll just have to take my word that it looked and tasted amazing).

Mattachioni

They have both custard and dulce de leche bomboloni for dessert (a.k.a. Italian doughnuts).  I tried both, and while they were tasty, they definitely weren’t on the level of the sandwich or the pizza.  They were a little bit too dense, with a slightly oily flavour.

A Decent Sandwich at Gold Standard

Gold StandardLocation: 1574 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: http://breakfastsandwich.ca/

There’s basically nowhere to go but down from Gold Standard’s breakfast sandwich.  It’s bordering on sandwich perfection.

I just tried the Sabich from Gold Standard’s new location on Queen, and yep: it’s not as good as the breakfast sandwich.  It’s not even close.

Gold Standard

The sabich, per their menu: “egg salad, fried eggplant, cucumber, pickles, parsley.”

It’s fine.  It’s decent enough, but the breakfast sandwich is clearly the thing to order here.

Gold Standard

There’s certainly nothing wrong with it; the egg salad is nice and creamy, as is the meaty eggplant.  The cucumber adds a bit of crunch, though some additional texture would be nice.

The biggest problem is that all of the components are basically on the same wavelength; the flavour is one-note.  It’s boring.  It needs some acidity to round things out.  The pickled onions add a slight vinegary bite, but there isn’t enough of them to make much of an impact.

Beyond Burger at Tim Hortons

Beyond Burger at Tim HortonsLocation: 4100 Dixie Road, Mississauga
Website: https://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/index.php

The Beyond Burger at Tim Hortons is way better than it has any right to be.  Is it particularly good?  No, not really.  Would I order it again?  Absolutely not.  But it’s perfectly acceptable.  It’s not gross.

Maybe that’s a low bar.  But Tim Hortons isn’t exactly known for having an appetizing lunch selection.  And their last foray into the fake meat game — the Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich — featured an impressive emulation of actual meat, but was otherwise pretty lousy.

Beyond Burger at Tim Hortons

Beyond Meat has clearly been evolving their product since I tried the Beyond burger at A&W last summer.  I found that one to be off-puttingly mushy.  The texture of the burger I just had at Tim’s was much, much better.

If you compare it to a good quality burger, it’s pretty much garbage.  But!  It actually compares quite favourably to the frozen burgers that are served all over the city.  If I had eaten it blind, that’s what I would have assumed it was.  It’s impressive.

Beyond Burger at Tim Hortons

In fact, I think I might have liked this a bit better than that type of frozen burger; those ones sometimes have a gamy, off meat flavour that’s a bit off-putting.  This one, on the other hand, has a generic meaty flavour that’s not unpleasant.  Again, it’s not particularly good, but it’s not bad either.  It’s fine.

They top it with cheese (which isn’t melted, of course), lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and mustard, which successfully covers up the patty’s lack of a beefy flavour.   Between the assertive condiments and the impressively accurate cheap burger texture, you’d never know that you’re not eating a lousy (but real!) hamburger.  I know that’s not exactly high praise, but I’m actually really impressed.