Location: 365 Wilson Avenue, North York
If you’re looking for tasty roast pork, go to Wilson’s Haus of Lechon. Trust me on this one; just do it.
As you might imagine, this place specializes in lechon, the Philippines’s version of roast suckling pig. I knew I was probably in good hands as soon as I walked in the door and saw the whole, glorious pig sitting behind the counter.
I wound up trying the roast pig and the roast chicken, and both were pretty much incredible.
The pork is absolutely fantastic; it’s tender, juicy, and absolutely exploding with flavour. The meat itself was thoroughly infused with a delightfully garlicky, herby punch of flavour. But the pork itself still shines through. It’s so good.
I wish the skin had been a bit crispier, but it was otherwise so delicious that it didn’t really matter.
The chicken was also pretty amazing, though it’s hard for anything to compare to that pork. I wanted dark meat and wound up with a breast, but it was surprisingly tender for white meat, and of course it had that same garlicky/herby flavour.
The combo comes with sticky rice and lumpia Shanghai, which is a very tasty pork-stuffed Filipino spring roll. It’s all so good.
Location: 2352 Yonge Street, Toronto
You wouldn’t particularly know it from what they’re serving at Chi Chop (sorry — Chi Chop!!), but Taiwanese food is pretty great. It has a lot in common with Chinese cuisine, but it’s also got its own thing going on in some very delightful ways.
Chi Chop (!!) serves Taiwanese-style fried chicken, and it’s fine. I got the Ninja crispy chicken bento box, which comes with a generous piece of boneless fried chicken, rice, a salad, three small spring rolls, and miso soup.
Nothing particularly stands out. The fried chicken isn’t bad, but it’s made from white meat, and it’s predictably dry. It’s also a bit too aggressively battered, with an overly thick exterior.
Still, I didn’t dislike eating it. It’s nicely seasoned, and there’s nothing blatantly wrong with it. It’s missing the sauce from the photo on their menu (which would have been nice), but… I don’t know. It didn’t offend me. It’s a shrug. An edible shrug.
It probably doesn’t help that the set is a bit muddled; the chicken is Taiwanese, the soup is Japanese, and the spring rolls taste Filipino (they have a separate section of the menu dedicated to Filipino cuisine). It definitely feels like a “Jack of all trades, master of none” situation.
Location: 1060 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto
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.
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.
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.
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.