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.

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.