Quick Bites: Tom’s Dairy Freeze, Bang Bang, Rudy

Sundae from Tom's Dairy Freeze
Caramel Sundae at Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Hey, gotta take advantage of Tom’s while they’re around (they’re closed all winter).  On this particular visit I got a twist with hot caramel sauce, and yeah it’s as tasty as ever.

Bang Bang
Cherry Milkjam at Bang Bang

I’ve found Bang Bang to be a bit hit-or-miss lately, but when they’re good, they’re still really good.  This particular flavour is actually a “twist” of sorts — it combines cherry ice cream with dulce de leche, and yeah that’s a great combo.  The cherry is a bit sour on its own, but mixing it with the sweet richness of the dulce de leche tempers its tartness and is thoroughly delicious.

Rudy
Fried Chicken Sandwich at Rudy

I’ve already written about the fried chicken sandwich at Rudy (A.K.A. the Valentino), so I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but it’s still nothing particularly special.  It wasn’t overcooked this time, so it had that going for it, but it was almost aggressively middling.  If I you had told me it was a fried chicken sandwich from a fast food chain like Wendy’s or A&W, I would have believed you.  And Rudy’s is expanding quite a bit; I guess they’re becoming a fast food chain themselves, so… it is what it is. [shrug]

Szechuan x Nashville Hot Sandwich at Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot Chicken

Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot ChickenLocation1184 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.chenchenshotchicken.com/

I recently tried the Nashville hot chicken sandwich at Chen Chen’s and found it to be a quality fried chicken sandwich that was spicy, but otherwise a bit on the bland side.

Well, clearly the Szechuan x Nashville sandwich is the way to go, because it’s thoroughly tasty — no seasoning issues here.  And the fried chicken itself was just as good as last time, with a nicely crunchy exterior and a juicy interior.

I will say, however, that I’m not really sure what the sandwich does to deserve the “Szechuan” moniker; aside from a mild sweetness, it doesn’t taste all that different from standard Nashville hot chicken.  I didn’t notice any numbing heat or any spicing that screams “Szechuan,” but hey — tasty is tasty.  I enjoyed the sandwich.  I’m not going to complain.

Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot Chicken

I also tried the sweet chili cauliflower, which the menu describes as “Fried Cauliflower tossed in sweet chili garlic sauce, topped with toasted sesame seeds, and green onions.”  It’s really good — the sauce is sweet and a little bit spicy, and the cauliflower is crunchy on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside (it’s tender but still has some bite — it’s not mushy at all).

A Top Notch Sandwich at Otto’s Berlin Doner

Otto's Berlin DonerLocation: 256 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Website: http://ottosdoner.com/

I tried Otto’s Berlin Doner around when it first opened and quite enjoyed it; I’m happy to report that not only has the place not missed a step, I think they’ve actually gotten better.  I just had the veal and lamb doner, and I was pretty blown away by how good it was.

Otto's Berlin Doner

Every element works so well — it’s got that great bread, which is delightfully crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and it’s got the perfect balance between tasty meat and fresh veggies, with the sauces all complementing it so well.

You can choose between garlic, yogurt, and hot sauce — or you can do what I did and get all three, which is definitely what you should do because it’s a very tasty combo (the hot sauce isn’t hot at all, but it’s hard to complain when it’s all this tasty).

Otto's Berlin Doner

But it’s the veal and lamb that really makes the sandwich sing.  It’s super tender, with a great meaty flavour from the lamb and a punch of rosemary-tinged herbiness.  And it’s absolutely crammed with the crispy bits that make a sandwich like this so addictive.

I mean, look at this picture.  Look at the crispy bits.  That’s a thing of beauty.

Otto's Berlin Doner

You can also add feta cheese and/or fries to your sandwich for a buck a piece, and again, you should definitely do that.  The fries add more delightful savoury crispiness, and the feta brings creamy pops of saltiness that really rounds out the sandwich.

Jalapeno Popper Fried Chicken Sandwich from Chica’s Chicken

Chica's ChickenLocation2853 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.chicaschicken.net/

I’ve written about Chica’s Chicken many, many times on this blog.  I’ve mentioned that I think they serve the best fried chicken in the city, and that’s still probably true — even if I wasn’t crazy about this particular sandwich.

The Jalapeno Popper Sando, as per their menu: “boneless fried chicken topped with chipotle aioli and pickled jalapeños, served on a toasted brioche bun.”

The fried chicken is as delicious as ever; it’s the perfect combo of crispy (but not overbearing) exterior and juicy interior.  It’s so damn good.

Chica's Chicken

I’m not quite as sold on the rest of the sandwich, however.  It’s that chipotle aioli.  It’s sweet.  I like the sweet/salty combo as much as the next guy, but holy moly the level of intense sugariness here is a bit intense.  It overpowers the other flavours of the sandwich.  I find the Sweet Heat sandwich at Chica’s to be a bit on the sweet side, and this one is even sweeter, somehow.  Between the sweet sauce and the sweet brioche bun, the flavour is extremely one note.

It also tastes absolutely nothing like a jalapeno popper, which is odd.  The whole point of a jalepeno popper is the contrast between the tangy cream cheese and the spicy bite of the jalapeno, and I don’t think there was any cream cheese here??  Or if there was, I couldn’t taste it over the aggressive sweetness.

Also, I don’t think I’ve ever had a jalapeno popper that was even remotely sweet.  Am I the weird one, or is Chica’s?

Oh well.  Everything else on the menu is so good that I don’t particularly care, but this is still an odd misstep from an otherwise great restaurant.

A Decent Falafel Sandwich at The Haifa Room

The Haifa RoomLocation: 224 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.instagram.com/thehaifaroom/

The Haifa Room has been up and running for a bit more than a month, and while the dining room isn’t open quite yet, they do have a take-out window where you can get a variety of sandwiches.

I went with the falafel sandwich: “Falafel, tahina, hummus, z’hug, cucumber and tomato salad, marinated red cabbage, parsley, onions, and pickles.”

I asked them to hold the onion, but otherwise got it as is.

It’s a solid sandwich, though nothing about it particularly blew me away.  The falafel itself is crispy and flavourful, with a nice fluffy interior that’s almost creamy (it might have been a tad undercooked, but it was tasty regardless).  And the healthy amount of parsley they top it with is a nice touch, adding a herby punch that complements the falafel quite well.

The Haifa Room

None of the other toppings particularly stand out, however, and I missed the red pickled turnips that you typically find in a sandwich like this; there were copious amounts of tahini and hummus, and in the absence of something with some zip, it felt overly rich and a bit one-note in its flavour.  It did have pickle slices, but they weren’t assertive enough to add much of anything.

(The menu also says the sandwich is topped with z’hug, a herby Yemenite hot sauce, but I didn’t see or taste anything even remotely hot-sauce-like in the sandwich.)

The vaguely stale pita bread probably didn’t help, which came out of a bag and tasted like it came out of a bag.

I feel like I’m complaining a lot for something I actually quite enjoyed, but pretty much everything here is one small step away from being very good, so it’s easy to notice the flaws that are holding it back.