Delicious Roti at D Hot Shoppe

D Hot ShoppeLocation: 4155 Fairview Street, Burlington
Websitehttps://www.dhotshoppe.com/

I showed up at D Hot Shoppe at around 2:00 on a weekday, and it was absolutely packed.  They also had a section of the wall dedicated to framed plaudits from various publications (which didn’t even include the article that brought me here in the first place).

D Hot Shoppe

Suffice it to say, I was fairly certain I was in for a tasty meal.

I ordered the small chicken roti, which costs seven bucks and is actually quite generous, so it’s a great deal.

D Hot Shoppe

They have six heat levels you can choose from, ranging from mild to suicide — I went with hot, which is right in the middle.  It was a great level of heat.  It’s noticeably spicy, but not unpleasantly so.

D Hot Shoppe

It’s very, very easy to see why the place is so popular.  Everything was just right, from the richly flavourful curry sauce, to the big chunks of tender chicken and potato, to the satisfyingly chewy, spice-packed roti shell.

It’s a fantastic, affordable lunch.  What’s better than that?

Decent Thai Food at Pai

PaiLocation: 18 Duncan Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.paitoronto.com/

After recently having a mind-blowing meal at Khao San Road (which is just around the corner), I decided to Thai it up again, this time at Pai.  Alas, the meal was quite tasty, but it wasn’t even close to being on the same level as KSR.

I ordered the Pad Gra Prow — “holy basil stir fried with your choice of ground pork, chicken, beef or tofu, steamed jasmine rice, thai style fried egg, nam prik nam pla sauce.”

Pai

I went with pork, and elected to go Thai spicy, which is the highest spice level.

And indeed, they were absolutely, positively not kidding around with the spice.  I enjoyed the level of heat, but then I’m somewhat of a glutton for punishment in that regard (see also: my undying love for the “hot AF” chicken at Chica’s Chicken).

Pai

Sadly, aside from the impressive level of fiery heat, nothing about this dish particularly stands out.  It’s perfectly tasty, but none of the flavours pop, even when you add the fish sauce that comes on the side.  It’s a serviceable dish, but it’s boring.

Contrast that with the life-changing bowl of Khao Soi that I had at Khao San Road, and there’s no contest.

Of course, it’s not a fair comparison since the two dishes are so radically different.  But my dining companion had the pad thai at both restaurants and was able to make a 1:1 comparison.  He had the same reaction — Pai is fine, but KSR is magical.

Always Bet on Black at iHalo Krunch

iHalo CrunchLocation: 318 Queen Street West (inside Lululemon)
Websitehttps://www.ihalokrunch.com/

I’m very late to the party on the charcoal cones at iHalo Krunch.   But hey, if you’re curious about that thing you saw all over Instagram last year, here I am to talk about it ridiculously late.

Would it surprise you to hear that this Instagram-famous ice cream cone is all style, no substance?  Because at this point, it probably shouldn’t.

It’s fine — but of course, the most interesting thing about it is the way it looks.

iHalo Crunch

I ordered the black on black, which is coconut flavoured soft serve made jet black thanks to “activated charcoal” (which is basically edible charcoal with some alleged health benefits) served in a charcoal cone.

The ice cream has a pleasant coconut flavour, but there’s really not much to it.  It’s also way too thin, with a distinct lack of creaminess.

The cone is fine. It’s a cone that happens to be black.  Nothing else about it stands out.

And of course, I don’t think I saw anyone order it and not take a photo, because why else would you order this thing?  It’s essentially an edible prop.

Jumping on the Poke Bandwagon at Calii Love

Calii LoveLocation: 367 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.caliilove.com/

I’m not sure why, but the poke trend that swept through the city a couple of years ago completely passed me by; this was actually my first time trying the now-iconic Hawaiian dish.

The version you’ll find at most Toronto restaurants tends to have a bit more stuff than the real-deal Hawaiian version, which is basically just raw fish, dressing, and maybe some onions and herbs mixed in.

Calii Love

The “Clever” poke bowl I had at Calii Love, on the other hand, comes with: “Raw Yellowfin tuna, gochujang broccoli, crispy shallot, wakame seaweed salad, jalapeno, edamame, sushi rice, wasabi aioli.”

So I don’t know how authentic it is (not at all, I’m thinking), but either way, I quite enjoyed it.  There’s a whole lot going on, but all of the components were fresh and tasty, and the overall balance of flavours was really satisfying.

Calii Love

There was also enough of a balance of textures — the crunchy seaweed, the meaty tuna, the soft rice — that it never felt one-note or monotonous.

It actually reminded me a lot of Korean bibimbap, but with a very different flavour profile.

Sandwich Perfection at Tortería San Cosme

Tortería San CosmeLocation: 181 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.sancosme.ca/

I recently mentioned that the sandwich at Egg Bae was fine, but that it was a bit one-note; the flavours and textures were all monotonous, and it was kinda boring to eat.

The Conchinita torta from San Cosme is the exact opposite of that.  It’s an almost absurdly well-balanced sandwich.

It was my first time back there since it opened; it was very good then, and it’s even better now.  The torta I just had was dangerously close to sandwich perfection.

Tortería San Cosme

The sandwich comes with pulled pork, refried beans, habanero onions, and fried plantains.

It’s ridiculously good.  All the elements work together in such perfect harmony.  There’s the tangy pork (which is super tender, but still has some texture) and the creamy beans, which balance perfectly with the mild sweetness of the plantain.  The pickled onions add crunch, and their vinegary bite helps to cut the richness from the pork and beans.

Tortería San Cosme

Then there’s the crispiness from the fried plantains, not to mention the amazing bread, which is lightly crispy on its exterior and delightfully fluffy inside.

It’s kind of absurd how good the sandwich is.  The contrasting flavours and textures are like a perfectly orchestrated symphony.

Tortería San Cosme

And it’s made even better with the house-made pickled jalapenos they have on the counter.  These things are so good, with an assertive crunch, a vinegary bite, and a mild spiciness.  You assume the sandwich can’t get better than it already is, then you add a few of those, and yeah — somehow it gets even more delicious.