Amazing Roast Pork at Luen Hing Barbecue

Luen Hing Barbecue
Location
: 888 Dundas Street East, Mississauga (inside the Mississauga Chinese Centre)
Website: None

If a restaurant has an enormous slab of tasty-looking roasted pork hanging in the window, you should eat at that restaurant.  That’s just a fact.  Is that a law?  I think that might be the law.  If you see a restaurant like that you have to eat there or you’ll go to jail.  That sounds fair to me.

Luen Hing also has chicken and duck hanging in the window, and clearly I have to go back, because that pork… wow.

Luen Hing Barbecue

I ordered the roast pork and barbecue pork on rice, which comes with a seriously generous amount of tasty eats for about twelve bucks.  It’s a great deal, that’s for sure.

I actually brought this home instead of eating in the food court, and I had resigned myself to the fact that the pork skin probably wouldn’t be particularly crispy.  It’s hard to retain your crunch when you’ve been steaming in a sealed take-out box.  But oh man, that skin was crisp.  It was at delightful, kettle chip levels of crunchiness.

Luen Hing Barbecue

And the pork itself was so good.  Super flavourful, nice and tender, fatty but not too fatty, and of course, the aforementioned super crunchy skin.  Delightful.

The barbecue pork wasn’t quite on the same level — it was a bit dry — but it was still quite tasty, with a nice balance of sweet and savoury.

The steamed cabbage and the sauce they poured on top were also quite good.  It all adds up to a seriously satisfying version of this dish, and a restaurant that I’ll almost certainly be returning to in the near future.

Quick Bites: Happy Sundae, Allwyn’s Bakery, Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Banana cream pie sundae at Happy Sundae
Banana cream pie sundae from Happy Sundae

So, hmm…  I’m trying to balance my newfound desire to keep this blog negativity-free with my need to warn you that this place isn’t very good.  Because it’s not very good.  The biggest issue here is the “ice cream” itself, and I’m putting ice cream in quotes because they say right on their menu that the soft serve is dairy-free.  Here’s the thing, though: Honey’s has illustrated fairly conclusively that it’s possible to create dairy-free ice cream that’s just as creamy and delicious as the real deal.  The stuff here, on the other hand, is exactly what you fear non-dairy ice cream is going to taste like.  But in the interest of not dwelling on the negative, I’ll just say that the banana slices were quite tasty (a lot of dessert places make the mistake of using underripe bananas, and that wasn’t an issue here) and leave it at that.

Jerk chicken meal from Allwyn's Bakery
Jerk chicken meal from Allwyn’s Bakery

On the plus side, the small jerk chicken meal from Allwyn’s is a pretty great deal.  Ignore the word “small” — for eleven bucks, you get a hearty portion of rice, two pieces of jerk chicken, and a side of coleslaw.  I wish it tasted better, however.  I couldn’t taste any of the spices and complexity that you’ll find in the better versions of this dish; it was just one-note salty in a way that got really monotonous to eat.  It’s a deal, though!

Pineapple sundae from Tom's Dairy Freeze
Pineapple sundae from Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Okay, let’s end things on a more positive note.  I know I’ve written about Tom’s Dairy Freeze about a billion times on this blog, and guess what?  It’s still great!  I got the pineapple sundae this time; the sauce has a decent proportion of small pineapple chunks and sweet syrup, but it’s the ice cream itself that’s the real draw.  This is still — hands down — the best soft serve in the city.  It’s rich, creamy, and delicious.

Quick Bites: Aquarela Restaurant, Hey Noodles, Good Taste Casserole Rice

Aquarela Restaurant
Mofongo at Aquarela Restaurant

After realizing that I had never tried mofongo — a Puerto Rican dish in which plantain is mashed with garlic and crispy pork skin — I quickly discovered that Aquarela is pretty much the only game in town.  Thankfully, they seem to be doing a pretty great job of carrying the torch for the dish in the GTA; I have nothing to compare it to, but it’s tasty, that’s for sure.  It’s rich, creamy, garlicky and abundantly delicious.  It’s kinda like mashed potatoes on steroids.  It also comes with your choice of meat; I went with the crispy pork belly, and yeah, that’s a great combo.  Something to cut through the plate’s overwhelming fatty richness would have been nice, but that’s a minor complaint for a very tasty dish.

Hey Noodles
Noodle Soup at Hey Noodles

The noodles at Hey Noodles are great (as you’d hope for from a place with “noodles” right in the name of the restaurant), but what really blew my mind was the price.  I ordered the Chongqing Street Noodles, which is a very large bowl of soup that’s absolutely crammed with noodles, and that somehow only costs $6.99.  The egg was an extra dollar, but even still, that’s a fantastic deal, especially considering how tasty it is.  The noodles are nice and chewy, and the soup is delightfully zingy, with that addictive combo of spiciness and numbing heat that you get in this style of Chinese cuisine.

Good Taste Casserole Rice
Clay pot rice at Good Taste Casserole Rice

Clay pot rice is an extremely simple dish — it’s basically just plain white rice that’s topped with meat and cooked in the eponymous pot, which makes the bottom layer of rice nice and crispy.  It’s simple, but immensely satisfying when done well.  The one I ordered was  topped with eel and various meats and sausages, and yeah, it’s super satisfying.  The fluffy/crispy rice, the tasty meats, and the sauce they have on the side (which was in a soy sauce container, but I’m fairly certain was more than just soy sauce) was a great combo.

Tasty Korean Stew at Insadong

Insadong
Location
: 4941 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.insadongrestaurant.com/

When you’re in the mood, there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a hearty, flavourful, bubbling hot Korean stew.

(Well okay fine, as a person who generally doesn’t like food to be so hot that you’re at risk of burning yourself, I could do without the “bubbling hot” part — but since the hot stone bowl is part of the package, I guess I’ll allow it.)

Insadong

I ordered the ugeojikug, which the menu describes as “cabbage hangover soup made in a beef broth with rice.”

It’s very good.  The soup is absolutely crammed with cabbage and sliced beef, and the broth is slightly spicy and profoundly beefy.  The beef was a bit on the tough side, but everything else is so tasty that this is never a particularly big deal.  In particular, the soup itself has a very satisfying beefy flavour; they could have served that broth on its own and I would have left happy.

A Tasty Poke Bowl at Pokito

PokitoLocation: 420 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.pokito.ca/

The poke bowl at Pokito isn’t exactly the most photogenic dish of all time.  I mean, look at that thing.  It’s basically just a melange of green and brown, but hey — if it tastes good, who cares?

And yes, it definitely tastes good.

Pokito

The menu at poke is extremely flexible; you can get a bowl of poke that’s customized to your liking, or you can do what I did and order one of signature bowls.  I went with the Creamy Spicy Salmon Bowl, which the menu describes as “Rice, Salmon, Crab Salad, Seaweed, Edemame.”  Once you choose from white or brown rice and a few optional toppings, you’re good to go.

I went with sushi rice and got a topping of crispy onions, but otherwise got the bowl as-is.

Pokito

It’s quite tasty.  It’s got a great variety of tastes and textures; at first it seems like there’s maybe too much stuff, but everything complements each other quite well.  And the star of the show — the salmon — tastes fresh, works really well with the creamy spicy sauce (which is, sadly, only marginally spicy), and is abundant enough that you won’t have to worry about running out before the bowl is done.