Chewy, Hand-Pulled Noodles at Sun’s Kitchen

Sun's KitchenLocation: 4300 Steeles Avenue East, Markham (inside Pacific Mall)
Website: None

There are few things that are more satisfying than a really good bowl of chewy, hand-made noodles.  And Sun’s Kitchen in the Pacific Mall definitely knows how to do it.

If you come at the right time, you can see the noodle maker doing his thing; he pulls the dough again and again and again until a thick piece becomes a handful of noodles, almost as if by magic.  It’s the work of a man who has clearly spent years mastering his craft, and it’s a sight that’s as hypnotic as it is impressive.

Sun's Kitchen

I’ve been here at least a dozen times, and I order the same thing every time: noodles with spicy pork.  I’m occasionally tempted to order something else, but the spicy pork is so damn good, and I don’t come here enough to mess around.

It’s an exceptionally simple dish; it’s just spicy ground pork, a whole bunch of noodles, and some sliced cucumber to cut the richness and the heat of the pork.

It’s outstanding.  The pork is salty, spicy, and intense.  It’s the perfect foil for the amazingly chewy noodles.

It comes with a cup of sweet, citrusy soy milk.  I didn’t like it at first, but now I can’t get enough.  It also comes with a bowl of bland soup that I’m not crazy about.  I keep meaning to tell them to hold the soup, but I always forget.

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Scratching my Head at Konjiki Ramen

Konjiki Ramen
Location
: 5051 Yonge Street, North York
Websitehttps://konjikiramen.com/

I think ramen might just be my favourite food on the planet.  Burgers are obviously a strong contender, but there’s something about a truly great bowl of ramen that’s incomparable.

That’s why the ramen at Konjiki — a seriously acclaimed Tokyo ramen joint that has just opened their first outpost in Canada — was so disappointing.  Their specialty is ramen made with clam, shellfish, chicken and pork.  I was exceptionally excited to try it.

You can either get shio (salt) or shoyu (soy sauce); I went with shoyu, which was clearly a mistake.  The flavour was all salty soy sauce, which completely wipes out all of the nuances from the broth.

https://tastyburgers.ca/

The thing that’s so irresistible about a great bowl of ramen is how complex it is; it feels like you’re discovering something new with every mouthful.  But there was nothing new to discover here after the first slurp.  It certainly wasn’t bad, but the first sip was exactly the same as the last.

The noodles were quite good, at least, with a satisfying chewiness.  The texture was slightly off in a way that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but that’s a minor complaint.

The chasu, on the other hand, wasn’t great.  It was super dry, and just didn’t add much to the bowl.

I also tried the gyoza (which were pork, shrimp, and cabbage dumplings) and the karaage (fried chicken), and they were both tasty, if nothing particularly mind-blowing.

Konjiki Ramen

I should also note that there were some service issues.  I was with a group of four, and two bowls of ramen came fairly quickly.  The other two took an extra fifteen minutes to arrive.  The waitress was extremely apologetic once she realized what was happening, and I got a free egg out of the deal (which was nicely cooked, with a gooey, just-barely-set yolk — but like the ramen itself, it was too salty).

Overall, not the greatest experience ever, and certainly not worth waiting for when there are several other ramen joints right nearby.

The Diner House 29

The Diner House 29 in St. Catherines, OntarioI watch a ridiculous amount of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  It isn’t often that I go to a restaurant that feels like it would fit in on that show (we just don’t seem to have a lot of restaurants like that in the GTA).  But Guy would be right at home at the Diner House 29 in St. Catherines.

There were a few things on the menu that caught my eye, but I went with Porky’s Revenge: “Roasted Pork Belly on a Toasted Bagel Bun with 2 Fried Eggs, House-made Onion Chutney,  Niagara-Peach Mayo & Monterey Jack.”

The Diner House 29 in St. Catherines, Ontario

Pork belly is one of those trendy ingredients that’s popped up on pretty much every menu over the last several years.  But I still have a hard time saying no to it.

And the version here is good.  I have a friend who teases me over the use of the word “unctuous,” because it’s one of those words that really isn’t in a normal person’s vocabulary.  It’s pretty much exclusive to food nerds/writers/bloggers (see also: mouthfeel).

That being said, this sandwich was unctuous AF.  Between the rich, fatty pork belly, the runny yolk from the eggs, the mayo, and the gooey cheese, the sandwich screams unctuous.  There’s really no other word to describe it.

The Diner House 29 in St. Catherines, Ontario

And yet it wasn’t too rich.  The sweet chutney helps to balance things out, and the flavours all work so well together that it never seems one-note.

The bagel bun was quite dense, with a very crispy exterior.  It would have been too much for your average sandwich, but there was so much going on here that the hearty bun was just right.

My biggest issue is that the sandwich is so overstuffed and slippery that as soon as I picked it up, it immediately started to fall apart.  I panicked, took a quick bite, then set the sandwich down and proceeded to eat the rest with a fork and knife.

The Diner House 29 in St. Catherines, Ontario

The sandwich comes with a salad, soup, or potatoes on the side.  I got the rice, beans, and pesto soup; it was absolutely crammed with stuff and had a satisfying pesto flavour.  It was hearty and tasty.

Consistent Mediocrity at Panera Bread

Panera Bread
Location: 197 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.panerabread.com

I continue to be baffled by the success of Panera Bread.  It’s really expensive, consistently mediocre, and always busy.  I don’t get it.

The bread’s not bad, I’ll give it that.  I’ve had a few sandwiches here, and the bread is always the highlight.

Panera Bread

I got the “Pick 2,” which means you can pick two smaller things and pay a lot for it.  I got a small sandwich and a little bowl of chili, and it came up to a bit over 14 bucks, and just get the hell out of here with that.  This should cost about half of that for the quality of food they’re serving.

Specifically, I got the Fontiga  Chicken Panini, and the Turkey Chili.

Panera Bread

They were both fine.  The sandwich had a mild smoky flavour — I guess either the cheese or the chicken was smoked — but was otherwise the sandwich equivalent of white noise.  It’s neither good nor bad; it’s just kind of there.

The chili was fine, but it was about on the level as a can of soup from the supermarket.  A nicer can — maybe one that costs a buck fifty instead of a buck — but a can nonetheless.

And of course, as usual, the place was packed.  Why?  I guess it’s better than the literal garbage that they call sandwiches at Tim Hortons, but still: why is this place so popular?

Dynasty B.B.Q. Restaurant

Dynasty B.B.Q. Restaurant - roast pork and BBQ pork
Location: 1550 South Gateway Road, Mississauga
Website: None

Driving by, you wouldn’t be blamed for completely missing the food court in Dixie Park.  Housed in a nondescript building in a somewhat industrial stretch of road along Dixie, it doesn’t look like much.  The seemingly perpetual construction right outside certainly doesn’t help matters.

Those who venture inside will find a pretty good Asian food court.  It’s generally nothing you’d want to go too far out of your way for, but most of the vendors here serve decent quality Chinese food (they’re mostly Chinese, with one Vietnamese place and one Japanese), with cheap prices and voluminous portions.

The best one is easily Dynasty B.B.Q.  (Well, there was a Korean place that I used to really like — their pork bone soup was particularly delicious. Sadly, it closed down and was replaced by the aforementioned Vietnamese place.  R.I.P., Korean place.  You are missed).    They have a typically comprehensive menu, though the real gem is the dish that comes with a combo of roast pork and BBQ pork.

Featuring a heaping portion of both types of pork served on top of rice (it also comes with a cup of mediocre soup that you should probably skip altogether), it’s a steal at $5.50.  Though the less showy BBQ pork is certainly tasty and absolutely worth eating, it’s the roast pork that is the real reason to come here.  I can’t claim to be an expert on this particular dish, though I have had it at a few different places.  This is the best version of it that I’ve had.  Perfectly cooked and yieldingly tender, with a satisfying layer of unctuous, melt-in-your-mouth fat, not to mention the salty, addictively amazing crispy, crunchy skin, it’s pretty outstanding.

Dynasty B.B.Q. Restaurant - the restaurant Dynasty B.B.Q. Restaurant - roast pork and BBQ pork