Passable Taiwanese Food at Chi Chop!!

Chi Chop!!Location: 2352 Yonge Street, Toronto
Website: http://chichop.ca/

You wouldn’t particularly know it from what they’re serving at Chi Chop (sorry — Chi Chop!!), but Taiwanese food is pretty great.  It has a lot in common with Chinese cuisine, but it’s also got its own thing going on in some very delightful ways.

Chi Chop!!

Chi Chop (!!) serves Taiwanese-style fried chicken, and it’s fine.  I got the Ninja crispy chicken bento box, which comes with a generous piece of boneless fried chicken, rice, a salad, three small spring rolls, and miso soup.

Nothing particularly stands out.  The fried chicken isn’t bad, but it’s made from white meat, and it’s predictably dry.  It’s also a bit too aggressively battered, with an overly thick exterior.

Chi Chop!!

Still, I didn’t dislike eating it.  It’s nicely seasoned, and there’s nothing blatantly wrong with it.  It’s missing the sauce from the photo on their menu (which would have been nice), but… I don’t know.  It didn’t offend me.  It’s a shrug.  An edible shrug.

Chi Chop!!

It probably doesn’t help that the set is a bit muddled; the chicken is Taiwanese, the soup is Japanese, and the spring rolls taste Filipino (they have a separate section of the menu dedicated to Filipino cuisine).  It definitely feels like a “Jack of all trades, master of none” situation.

Horcha-ta-ta at Bang Bang

Horcha-ta-ta at Bang BangLocation93a Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://bangbangicecream.com/

Oh hey, another super delicious scoop of ice cream from Bang Bang.  Are you surprised?  Because I’m definitely not.  They’ve been around for five years now, and they’re still serving up what is hands-down the best ice cream in the city.  It’s not even close.

This particular flavour was called Horcha-ta-ta and is inspired by horchata, a sweet, creamy drink made from rice.

The ice cream itself has a really rich flavour, and is imbued with cinnamon and other spices (nutmeg I think?  Some other stuff, probably?).  It’s topped with sweet sticky rice, condensed milk, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

It’s delicious.  It actually reminds me quite a bit of rice pudding, but with the cinnamon and other spices giving it a really interesting flavour.  And of course, the quality of the ice cream is just as great as ever.  It’s so good.

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.

Shoddy Indian Food at Amaya in Sherway Gardens

Amaya Sherway GardensLocation: 25 Sherway Gardens Road, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.amayarestaurant.com/

Amaya is a (usually) decent quality chain that (usually) serves tasty Indian fare.  But the Sherway Gardens location is… odd.  I tried it when it first opened, and the food was so atrociously bad that it was nearly inedible.

I figured they deserved another chance — new restaurants often need a month or two to work out all the kinks.  I just tried the rogan josh, which features big chunks of lamb in a mildly spicy curry sauce on top of basmati rice.

Amaya Sherway Gardens

Yeah, it was pretty bad.  It’s so weird, because the other Amaya locations I’ve tried have been pretty reliable, but the Sherway Gardens location is almost like a completely different restaurant.

The flavour of the curry wasn’t bad, but the chunks of lamb were mostly tough and rubbery (with a few tender pieces interspersed throughout to mix things up), the rice was ice cold, and when I got to the bottom of the bowl, there was a big pool of greasy water that was tremendously off-putting.

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.