Tasty and Unique Flavours at Dipped Donuts

Dipped DonutsLocation: 161 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/dippeddonuts/

Though Dipped Donuts has been serving their tasty treats at various events throughout the city for a few years, they’ve only just recently opened a permanent outpost in Kensington Market.

They keep things pretty simple; as far as I can tell, they only serve classic raised doughnuts — nothing with a cakey base, and on the day I visited, nothing filled (though they do have filled doughnuts in their rotation).

Their menu mostly consists of quirky flavours like rosewater pistachio, mango ginger, and London fog.

Dipped Donuts

I tried the blueberry basil, and yeah, it’s good. The doughnut itself is a little bit more dense and chewy than the norm, which is actually quite satisfying.

The glaze was seriously delicious, though I’ll admit that I couldn’t taste any basil flavour.  It was bright and fruity, with a mild tartness and a pronounced blueberry flavour.  It’s also admirably restrained in its sweetness; it’s basically the polar opposite of the in-your-face sugar bombs you’ll find at Krispy Kreme.

Most of the time, I’m ready to tap out from the sweetness after one doughnut.  Here, I could have happily eaten another one (or two).

Above Average Ramen at Ramen Misoya

Ramen Misoya
Location
: 646 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.ramenmisoya.ca/

I don’t need a whole lot to convince me to try a new ramen joint.  Ramen Misoya is a Japanese ramen chain that’s been featured in the Michelin guide, with locations all over the world.

Michelin-featured ramen?  That’s pretty much all I need to hear.  I’m sold.

Ramen Misoya

(Though the last Michelin-adjacent ramen joint that opened in Toronto, Konjiki Ramen, was pretty disappointing.)

I ordered the gold kome special, which is a pork- and miso-based soup that comes with chasu, half an egg, ground pork, and a couple of potato wedges.

Ramen Misoya

It’s a solid bowl of ramen. The broth has a decent amount of complexity; it’s got a porky richness and a nice miso flavour, and it’s livened up by a mild gingery and garlicky bite. The level of salt is a bit too intense, but it’s otherwise above average.

The noodles were also quite satisfying, with a perfect thickness and a nice firm texture.

Ramen Misoya

The add-ins, sadly, were hit-and-miss. The egg was tasty, with a great gooey yolk.  But the chasu was so tough I could barely even bite through it, and had a vaguely gamy flavour.

The potato wedges were just weird; even if these had been perfect I’m not sure they would have worked.  And they were undercooked and crunchy, so they definitely didn’t work.

TIFF-Inspired Ice Cream at Sweet Jesus

Sweet JesusLocation: 106 John Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.sweetjesus4life.com/

After essentially accusing Sweet Jesus of being empty Instagram-bait, I recently came to the realization that it’s probably a bit better than I’ve been giving it credit for.  Yes, a heavy emphasis is placed on making their creations as visually pleasing as possible, but the soft serve is nice and creamy, and the flavours are usually satisfying.

That being said?  Their new limited edition TIFF-inspired creation, the Marie Antoinette, is empty Instagram-bait.

It’s a collaboration with Nadege, and it features vanilla soft serve, maple sauce, macaron crumbs, mini macarons, and a full-sized macaron on top.

The full macaron is actually the best thing about it. It has a nice, lightly crispy texture, a very subtle chewiness, and a pleasant vanilla bean flavour that isn’t too sweet. It’s a quality macaron.

Otherwise, the rest basically just tastes like plain vanilla ice cream.  The mini macarons are one-note crunchy and don’t really taste like anything, the maple sauce features shockingly little maple syrup flavour (I never would have guessed it was supposed to be maple if I hadn’t known), and the macaron crumbs just add a grainy texture.

The vanilla ice cream is tasty enough, so I certainly didn’t dislike eating it, but there isn’t a whole lot there.

A Unique Japanese Dessert at HCafe

HCafeLocation: 4750 Yonge Street – Unit 119, North York
Websitehttps://www.hcafecanada.com/

I’ve mentioned before that the Japanese Netflix TV show, Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman (about a Japanese businessman who’s obsessed with dessert), is pretty much the best.  It’s frequently hilarious and features some mesmerizing food porn, not to mention enough slickly-shot footage of Tokyo to make you want to get on the next flight.  It’s great.

He eats at least one dessert per episode, and it all looks amazing.  Sadly, much of it is really difficult (if not impossible) to find in the GTA.

HCafe

One of the desserts he eats is called ohagi, and you can actually find it at HCafe, a tiny little Japanese dessert shop near Yonge and Sheppard.

It’s pretty unique.  It features a ball of chewy rice (a mix of glutinous rice and regular rice) surrounded by a sweet red bean paste.

HCafe

It’s not quite like any dessert I’ve ever had — it’s chewy, almost like mochi, but with a coarser texture thanks to the grains of rice.  The sweetness is very subtle, and though the flavour is mostly beany, there’s an underlying fruitiness.

It’s odd, but also surprisingly delicious.  If you like mochi, this hits a lot of the same notes.

Decent BBQ at Beauty Barbecue & Smokehouse

Beauty BBQ & SmokehouseLocation: 2901 Bayview Avenue, North York
Websitehttps://www.beautybbq.com/

Judging by Toronto’s restaurants, really great barbecue must be the toughest thing to get right.  Because there are a lot of BBQ joints in the GTA, and very, very few of them are much better than okay.

You can add Beauty Barbecue & Smokehouse to the “okay” list.  It’s fine.  I didn’t dislike eating there.  It’s certainly not great, but I’ve had worse barbecue in the city.

Beauty BBQ & Smokehouse

I tried three things and a couple of sides: smoked + roasted pork shoulder, Torontreal smoked meat, and baby back ribs, along with grilled cornbread and kale coleslaw.  I was really hoping to try the brisket; alas, it was sold out.

Beauty BBQ & Smokehouse

The pork shoulder was the oddest of the bunch.  It didn’t even vaguely resemble the pulled pork you might be expecting from a barbecue joint.  Instead, it was thinly sliced and tasted more like porchetta than something you’d find in the American south, with an overwhelmingly herby, rosemary-tinged flavour.  I suspect it hadn’t seen a smoker in many hours (if not days) as it had zero smokiness and a mildly gamy reheated pork flavour.

Beauty BBQ & Smokehouse

The Torontreal smoked meat was a definite upgrade over the pork.  Though it can’t compete with the best smoked meat in the city, it was nicely spiced and had a surprisingly smoky flavour.  But the meat was tough and the fat was vaguely rubbery.  Despite the fact that it was sliced very thinly, it was disconcertingly difficult to cut with a plastic knife.

Beauty BBQ & Smokehouse

The ribs were the best of the bunch.  They had a good level of smoke and a nice texture — tender, but with a bit of bite.  Something about them wasn’t quite clicking (I think maybe the rub?), but the vinegary-sweet sauce was tasty, and it was overall a quality rack of ribs.

Beauty BBQ & Smokehouse

As for the two sides, they were both solid.  Neither particularly stood out, but the coleslaw was nice and zingy, and the cornbread was sweet, buttery, and satisfying.