Great Fish Tacos at Seven Lives

Seven LivesLocation: 69 Kensington Avenue, Toronto
Website: http://sevenlives.restaurantsnapshot.com/

Seven Lives serves what is frequently called the best fish taco in the city, which makes deciding what to order there quite easy.  It’s the fish taco.  It’s gotta be the fish taco.

I’ve actually been wanting to try this place for quite a while, but it’s popular; the place routinely has a line-up going out the door, and it’s a tiny restaurant.  If you don’t get a seat on one of the two benches out front, or at the one table inside, you’re out of luck.  You’ll just have to eat and walk, which is a bit of a challenge with their generously-stuffed tacos.

Seven Lives

It’s worth the wait and the hassle.  It is as advertised: it’s clearly one of the best fish tacos in the city, if not the best.

It consists of a very generous piece of fried haddock topped with cabbage, pico de gallo, and a garlicky sauce.  Everything works really well together.  The fish, in particular, is delicious; it’s super tender and flaky with a very satisfying crispy exterior that never overwhelms the fish itself.

Seven Lives

The toppings are great — the cabbage and the pico de gallo add some nice freshness and crunch (not to mention an acidity that helps cut through the fried fish), and the creamy sauce brings a nice garlicky bite.

My only real issue here are the two corn tortillas, which were a bit stale (corn tortillas are one of those things that pretty much have to be consumed within minutes rather than hours of being cooked — they get stale fast).  But that’s a minor complaint for an otherwise superlative taco.

Fish and Chips at McDonald’s

McDonald's Fish and ChipsLocation: 25 The West Mall, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

I just posted about the Nanaimo Bar McFlurry, which is part of McDonald’s soon-to-end (on the 17th) Great Canadian Tastes promotion.  And now I’ve tried the other item in that menu, Fish and Chips.  Because of course I did.  What did you think, that McDonald’s was going to introduce fish and chips and I wasn’t going to try it??  Get out of here.

McDonald's Fish and Chips

It’s fine, I guess.  When I first heard about it, I assumed they were just going to throw a Filet-O-Fish patty on some fries and call it a day, but this isn’t that.

The meal comes with two pieces of fried haddock that basically taste like any number of middle-of-the-road frozen fish filets you can get at the supermarket (it’s not reconstituted fish pieces, so it’s got that going for it).

McDonald's Fish and Chips

They’re nice and crispy, and when I had them at least, they were freshly fried — but they definitely have that distinctive processed flavour that lets you know they were made in a big factory many miles away and then frozen.

The fish itself was dry, but it could have been worse.  Like I said, it was fine.  Not great, but perfectly edible.

The meal comes with a little tub of tartar sauce, which is zippy and surprisingly oniony.  I wasn’t crazy about that (raw onions are the worst; why everyone thinks they’re acceptable to eat is a complete mystery to me), but it was definitely a bit more interesting than you’d expect.

Stellar Dim Sum at Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Dragon Boat Fusion CuisineLocation: 160 East Beaver Creek Road, Markham
Websitehttp://www.dragonboatfusioncuisine.com/

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine is a dim sum joint that does well.  We showed up at around 10:40 on a Saturday, and the place was seriously crowded.  By the time we left, it was even more packed, with a crowd waiting for tables almost going out the door.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Eating the food, it’s easy enough to see why.  Some highlights:

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The char siu was sweet and incredibly tender.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

These fried seafood-filled tubes were nice and crispy on the outside, with a fishy (but not overbearing) flavour.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The fried dough noodle rolls were probably the best version of that dish that I’ve ever had, with a surprisingly complex flavour and a very satisfying contrast of textures between the chewy noodle, the crispy fried exterior, and the soft interior.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

I really should have taken a picture of the interior of these salted egg buns, because they were absolutely crammed with an oozy, sweet custardy filling.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

There were only a couple of weak dishes — surprisingly, they were the dim sum standbys that you’d think they’d work especially hard to get right.  The har gow featured an overly thick, almost gummy wrapper encasing overcooked shrimp.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

And the pork buns featured a filling that tasted a bit too leftovery.

Still, they were only two mild weak points in a meal that was otherwise quite stellar.

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.

Amazing Noodle Soup at I Love Pho 2

I Love Pho 2Location: 1248 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Website: None

I’ve always liked Vietnamese food, but I feel like I’ve spent the majority of my life seriously underrating it.  I’ve recently discovered that Vietnamese cuisine can be downright magical, with a vibrancy and depth of flavour that’s irresistible.

And there’s so much more to it than the obvious choices like pho and banh mi (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those dishes).

I Love Pho 2

Case in point: the bun rieu at I Love Pho 2, a zingy noodle soup made with a tomato- and crab-based broth that’s absolutely crammed with stuff: sliced beef, sliced pork, ground pork, tomato, blood cake, fried tofu, fried onions, fresh herbs, and a whole plate’s worth of crunchy veggies, not to mention the heaping portion of soft, chewy rice noodles.

I Love Pho 2

It’s amazingly good.  There’s a really delightful variety of flavours and textures — sometimes, the meat in a soup like this can taste off or be a little tough, but everything here was great.

It’s the broth, however, that makes this dish so special.  It has a really rich seafood/crab flavour, with a nice zinginess from the tomato and a mild sweetness that rounds things out.  It was incredibly satisfying.

I Love Pho 2

It was also an amazing value — I got the medium size, which cost about ten bucks and came with an almost comically oversized bowl that was filled to the brim and absolutely crammed with noodles and various meats.