Cheap Eats at Ming’s Noodle Cafe

Ming's Noodle CafeLocation: 3447 Kennedy Road, Scarborough
Website: None

Ming’s Noodle Cafe is a Hong-Kong-style diner; it’s also one of those restaurants with a multi-page menu with literally hundreds of choices.  If you’re not sure what to order, the All Day Special is a safe bet, and an absolutely incredible deal.

Ming's Noodle Cafe

For the almost absurdly low price of 7.45, you get an egg sandwich or an omelette with toast on the side, a main meal, and a drink.  It’s an insane deal.

Ming's Noodle Cafe

Is the food amazing?  No, it definitely isn’t; but for that price how can you complain?

Ming's Noodle Cafe

And it’s certainly not bad.  I started with the egg sandwich, which features a tasty, buttery omelette between two fluffy slices of white bread.  The eggs were slightly overcooked, but it was a respectable sandwich.

Ming's Noodle Cafe

Next up was the beef with satay sauce on vermicelli soup.  This was fine; the beef is tender, and the satay sauce is tasty enough.  Nothing about it particularly stands out… until you add a heaping amount of the chili sauce they have on the table, then it really comes alive.

Ming's Noodle Cafe

I wish that sauce were a bit spicier (it’s surprisingly mild) but it’s otherwise sweet, savoury, and addictive, with a face-punch of satisfying flavours.  You can buy a jar to take home for six bucks, and you’d better believe I bought one.

Bong Lua Vietnamese Restaurant

Bong Lua Vietnamese RestaurantLocation: 2572 Birchmount Road, Scarborough
Website: None

Bun Rieu — a Vietnamese crab noodle soup — is one of those dishes that’s everything at once.  It’s alternately sweet, salty, savoury, meaty, fishy, and sour.  It’s quite rich, but vibrant enough that it never feels overly heavy.

Bong Lua Vietnamese Restaurant

The version at Bong Lua isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s quite tasty.  The broth lacks the rich complexity of the best versions of this dish, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Bong Lua Vietnamese Restaurant

There’s a great interplay between the sweet acidity of the tomatoes and the fishy funk from the crab.  That’s not the mention the chewy rice noodles, which suit the dish perfectly.  It’s a solid bowl of soup.

Climbing the Lobster Mountain at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

Fishman Lobster ClubhouseLocation: 4020 Finch Avenue East, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.flctoronto.com/

Is it even possible to see the impressively enormous piles of lobster or crab at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse and not want to immediately go there?  I don’t think it is!

I’ve been drooling over those piles on Instagram for some time now, not to mention on David Chang’s amazing Netflix show, Ugly Delicious.  But you need a big group to really do the place justice, so I had to bide my time until a large enough group could be assembled.

I recently went with a group of ten, and yeah, we did the place justice.

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

We started with a few different dishes — soup, braised beef, greens, fried rice, noodles — and they were all tasty enough, but that’s not the reason you’re there.

We ordered a twenty pound pile of lobster, which consisted of two enormous beasts that they actually brought to the table before the meal started (a lot of people like to pose for pre-dinner photographs with their lobsters or crabs, which felt like a bit much to me).

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

Later, the mountain arrives.  And it’s an awe-inspiring sight: a seemingly endless amount of deep-fried lobster chunks, a whole bunch of fries, and enough crispy fried garlic bits to launch a vampire genocide.

It’s so good.  The lobster is cut up into easy-to-eat chunks; it’s still on the shell, but the meat is accessible without the need for any shell-crunching tools.  Which is good, because there’s a lot of lobster there — there’s no time to mess around with cracking shells.  There’s a whole bunch of lobster to eat.

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

It’s more lobster than I’ve ever had in a single meal, and it’s so tasty; the meat is tender, garlicky, a little bit sweet, and has some nice fried crispy bits.  That’s not to mention the fried garlic, which is surprisingly addictive (you’re going to reek of garlic for about 24 hours after eating here; deal with it).

I ate an insane amount of lobster.  I was so full.  It was one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in a while.

Mexican Bacon Queso More-Ning McWrap at McDonald’s

McDonald'sLocation: 85 Ellesmere Road, Scarborough
Websitehttps://www.mcdonalds.ca/

This is it — my final stop on the McDonald’s World Taste Tour.  It’s been fun?  I guess?

Well, the McFlurry was pretty good, at least.

And the Mexican Bacon Queso More-Ning McWrap isn’t bad.  It consists of bacon, scrambled eggs, lettuce, tomato, and queso sauce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

The biggest surprise here is the generous serving of scrambled eggs, which are actually pretty well prepared.  You kind of assume it’s going to be dry and rubbery, but shockingly enough, it’s neither of those things.  They weren’t the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had, but they were tasty.

McDonald's

And while the queso sauce didn’t taste particularly cheesy — it tasted more like a zesty mayo — it did a good job of brightening up the eggs and adding a very minor dose of spice.

The biggest issue here is something you (probably) won’t have to worry about.  There wasn’t any bacon.  I kept thinking the bacon would reveal itself in the next bite, or that it was all clustered at the end of the wrap, but it was MIA throughout.  By the time I realized that the wrap was bacon-free, I was too lazy to get up and do something about it.

I’m actually impressed that I enjoyed this as much as I did, considering that one of the primary ingredients was missing (it’s right there in the name).

Matcha Overload at Golden Bubbles

Golden BubblesLocation: 3276 Midland Avenue, Scarborough
Websitehttp://goldenbubbles.ca/

I don’t particularly like matcha.  It has a vaguely bitter, swampy flavour that I find unappealing.

So obviously, when I went to Golden Bubbles, I ordered the Matcha Red Bean Waffle despite the fact that they have many non-matcha options that look perfectly delicious.  Because I’m a stupid person?

Golden Bubbles

In my defense, I’ve been craving a red bean dessert (probably because I’ve been watching Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman on Netflix, a delightfully quirky Japanese show about a dessert-obsessed businessman).  Plus, it’s been a few years since I’ve tried a matcha dessert, so my general mindset was “prove me wrong, Golden Bubbles.  Prove me wrong.”

Yeah, I still don’t like matcha.  But if you do, I’m sure you’ll find this quite tasty.  It consists of a matcha poppy seed waffle, green tea ice cream, and a sweet red bean topping.

Golden Bubbles

The fresh Hong Kong style waffle was great, with a delicately crisp exterior and custardy interior.  And, flavour notwithstanding, the quality of the ice cream was very good.  It was rich and creamy.  The beans were tasty as well.

But no, sorry matcha fans.  It’s beloved, and I just don’t get it.  I won’t say it’s flat-out gross, but its popularity baffles me.

I guess I’ll wait another few years and try it again.