The Porchetta at Porchetta & Co.: Still Great

Porchetta & Co.Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://porchettaco.com/

Though I’m a big fan of the porchetta sandwich at Porchetta & Co., my tendency is to get tempted by the various fried chicken sandwich specials.  It’s been ages since I’ve had the good old plain porchetta sandwich.

Porchetta & Co.

I was afraid it might have gone downhill.  It’s an outstanding sandwich, but many successful restaurants have a hard time maintaining consistency over the years, and eventually become a victim of their own success.  This is especially true once expansion becomes a factor.

Well, I’m happy to say that this doesn’t seem to be an issue here.  The porchetta sandwich: still outstanding.

Porchetta & Co.

I didn’t see any crackling when I opened it up, which concerned me.  But I guess it was all hiding under the meat, because there was a pretty good amount.  (I could have used more, but then it’s basically impossible to get enough crackling.  I could have an all-crackling sandwich, and I’d still be like “that was pretty good, but it needed more crackling.”)

I also thought the sandwich looked a little lean on first inspection, but again, it was all hiding in there; the meat was super tender, with a perfect amount of tasty fat interspersed throughout.

Porchetta & Co.

It’s a seriously, seriously great sandwich.  The crispy, fluffy bun is as perfect as ever, and the pork itself is still top-notch.  The spicing is subtle compared to some porchetta, but there’s more than enough for it to pack some serious flavour.  That’s not to mention that the milder seasoning allows the natural flavour of the pork to really shine through.

Porchetta & Co.

You can get all kinds of toppings, if you want — in fact, the “House Special” is topped with parmesan, truffle sauce, mustard, and hot sauce.   And certainly, it’s not un-tasty.  But all that stuff is superfluous, and worse, it just gets in the way of the amazing pork.  The porchetta is so tender, porky, and herby; obscuring it with additional sauces and flavours just seems like a shame.

Tasty Peanut Sauce at Nimman Thai

Nimman ThaiLocation: 1060 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto
Websitehttps://nimman.ca/

I think a really good peanut sauce is one of those things that can make pretty much anything taste delicious.  It really doesn’t matter what it is; slather enough peanut sauce on it, and hey, what do you know, it’s delicious now.  How about that.

Nimman Thai

Case in point: the Nimman long song at Nimman Thai, which features some kind of saucy chicken on top of rice, with a side of Chinese broccoli and, of course, the aforementioned delicious peanut sauce.

The chicken was tough and its sauce was pretty bland, but once you dip it into the intensely flavourful peanut sauce, you’re off to the races.  That peanut sauce!  I would have dipped anything into that.

Nimman Thai

I got the dish as part of their lunch special, which is actually a really great deal — for twelve bucks, you also get a bowl of soup, a salad, and a spring roll.  The soup was pleasantly zingy, and the salad had a really interesting dressing that tasted strongly of fish sauce.

Nimman Thai

The spring roll, on the other hand, had a funky flavour and an overly thick wrapper.  It wasn’t great, and since the peanut sauce wasn’t on the table yet, I couldn’t even dip it into that to save it.

A Mediocre Croissant at Gouter

GouterLocation: 3507 Bathurst Street, North York
Websitehttp://www.gouter.ca/

I assumed I was in good hands when the woman behind the counter at Gouter spoke with a heavy French accent.  Not that every French person can automatically make delicious pastries, but it made me think that the place was probably legit.

Yeah, about that.

Gouter

I had the raspberry croissant, and it was fine.  I certainly didn’t dislike eating it.  But there wasn’t a single element that was better than okay.

The first sign that something was amiss was the paper bag it came in.  The croissant was in there for about twenty minutes before I ate it.  A good croissant should be buttery enough to immediately leave grease stains on a paper bag, but that bag was pristine.

Gouter

The second sign that something was amiss came when I tore it in half and saw that it was filled with about a jar’s worth of raspberry jam.  That’s too much jam.  And I mean, it wasn’t unpleasant to eat, but there’s no balance there.

And as suspected, the croissant — though mildly buttery — wasn’t nearly buttery enough.  It also had zero exterior crispiness other than at the very ends, and was generally lacking in flavour.

Gouter

The overall experience was basically like eating a slice of Wonder Bread slathered with raspberry jam.  There just wasn’t much to it — the lack of textural contrast and the one-note flavour was a bit of a bummer.

Stellar Dim Sum at Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Dragon Boat Fusion CuisineLocation: 160 East Beaver Creek Road, Markham
Websitehttp://www.dragonboatfusioncuisine.com/

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.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Eating the food, it’s easy enough to see why.  Some highlights:

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The char siu was sweet and incredibly tender.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

These fried seafood-filled tubes were nice and crispy on the outside, with a fishy (but not overbearing) flavour.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

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.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

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.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

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.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

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.

Tasty Frozen Custard at Woodfire Sandwich Co.

Woodfire Sandwich Co.Location: 3797 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.woodfiresandwich.com/

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.

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.

Woodfire Sandwich Co.

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.