Location: 128 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Taiyaki NYC is basically the same concept as Sukoi Desserts, in which a taiyaki (a Japanese waffle-like dessert in the shape of a fish) is filled with ice cream and other toppings.
It’s a dessert that’s tailor-made for Instagram; in fact, Taiyaki NYC even has a portion of their wall made entirely of flowers to make your photo really pop. I just wish they put in half as much effort to make the food pop.
It’s a dessert I should love. Ice cream is great. Taiyaki is great. Cramming those two things together should be a home run. And yet…
I went with the Mangonificient, which is supposedly one of their most popular flavours — it features a mango/vanilla swirl inside a custard taiyaki.
The ice cream is the biggest issue. It’s not good — it has a decent mango flavour, but it’s icy and thin. It’s topped with a cookie and a few tiny cubes of tasteless mochi on a stick. It looks impressive, but the taste is another story.
I will say, however, that the taiyaki itself is actually quite good. It’s nice and fresh, with a crispy exterior and a perfectly cakey/fluffy interior. They sell them on their own, which is clearly the thing to order. It probably won’t be much of a hit on social media, though, so what’s the point, right?
Location: 32 Tank House Lane, Toronto
They sell hot chocolate at SOMA Chocolatemaker — but not just any hot chocolate. You have the option to get it as “an intense shot,” which is just what it sounds like. It’s basically like drinking pure, melted chocolate.
It’s not as overwhelming as it sounds; it’s thick and rich, but it’s still drinkable. It’s not quite at the consistency of melted chocolate, even if it’s close.
You can get Mayan hot chocolate, which is amped up with chili peppers and spices, or you can get the good old classic, which is what I ordered on this particular visit (I like the Mayan version too, but I do find that the spices kind of distract from the amazing chocolate).
It’s amazing. Of course it’s amazing; SOMA makes some of the best chocolate in the world, and they have the accolades to prove it. The flavour is rich and complex, with just the right amount of sweetness. I can’t imagine that a better cup of hot chocolate exists.
Location: 28 Bathurst Street, Toronto
Donut Monster is a really acclaimed doughnut joint from Hamilton that recently opened a location in Toronto’s Stackt Market. I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about their doughnuts for a while now — if they hadn’t opened an outpost in Toronto, taking a long drive to Hamilton might have been in order.
I’m so glad I didn’t drive all the way to Hamilton for this.
I tried the Cherry Cheesecake Bullseye, which features sour cherry pie filling, cream cheese icing, and a graham cracker crumble.
I know a lot of people are more concerned about a doughnut’s fillings/toppings than anything else, and on that level this was pretty decent — the balance between the tart cherries and the sweet frosting was actually quite good.
But the doughnut itself was seriously disappointing; it was dense and dry and boring. It was like Wonder Bread. There’s nothing to it. I’m pretty sure the prepacked doughnuts you can get at the supermarket aren’t much worse.
It certainly wasn’t unpleasant, but from a high-end doughnut place it’s a huge let-down.
Location: 484 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
The Greek doughnuts (a.k.a. loukoumades) they serve at Lukumum are intensely sweet. They’re also extremely delicious.
I tried loukoumades at Loukoumania Cafe in Vaughan last year; the ones at Lukumum are twice as sweet. Three times as sweet? They’re way sweeter.
I tried a couple of varieties. I went with the classic, which is soaked through with syrup and topped with honey and cinnamon, and the hazelnut, which is soaked with syrup and topped with Nutella and hazelnuts.
Both were delicious, though I preferred the classic. Despite being soaked through with syrup, the exterior remains pleasantly crunchy. The inside is completely suffused with syrup, but it’s not mushy. It’s great. The honey adds even more sweetness, and a nice floral note that goes very well with the cinnamon.
The Nutella variety is tasty as well — Nutella makes anything delicious — but the original is more unique.
Location: 28 Kensington Avenue, Toronto
I’ve tried to get the cinnamon bun from Fika Cafe a few times, and it’s been sold out every time.
I finally got one. It was worth the wait.
Fika Cafe is a Swedish bakery and coffee shop in Kensington Market; they sell a Swedish-style cinnamon bun, and it’s fantastic.
It’s basically like a cross between a Swedish cardamom bun and a more traditional cinnamon roll, and it’s so damn good. It tastes more strongly of cinnamon than cardamom, but that slightly floral cardamom taste is definitely there; it’s a delightful balance.
Everything else about it is pretty much perfect — it has the perfect amount of sweetness, with a light sugary glaze and additional pops of sweetness and texture from the pearl sugar on top. It’s pretty restrained, however, so if you’re expecting a Cinnabon-esque sugar-bomb, look elsewhere.
The pastry itself is dense but not too dense, with a nice chewy texture and just the right amount of fluffiness. And of course, the aforementioned cinnamon/cardamom balance is just right. It’s one of the best pastries I’ve had in a while.