Location: 420 Queen Street West, Toronto
The poke bowl at Pokito isn’t exactly the most photogenic dish of all time. I mean, look at that thing. It’s basically just a melange of green and brown, but hey — if it tastes good, who cares?
And yes, it definitely tastes good.
The menu at poke is extremely flexible; you can get a bowl of poke that’s customized to your liking, or you can do what I did and order one of signature bowls. I went with the Creamy Spicy Salmon Bowl, which the menu describes as “Rice, Salmon, Crab Salad, Seaweed, Edemame.” Once you choose from white or brown rice and a few optional toppings, you’re good to go.
I went with sushi rice and got a topping of crispy onions, but otherwise got the bowl as-is.
It’s quite tasty. It’s got a great variety of tastes and textures; at first it seems like there’s maybe too much stuff, but everything complements each other quite well. And the star of the show — the salmon — tastes fresh, works really well with the creamy spicy sauce (which is, sadly, only marginally spicy), and is abundant enough that you won’t have to worry about running out before the bowl is done.
Location: 190 University Avenue, Toronto
The chicken tan tan ramen at Momofuku is a taste explosion. Its flavour is so incredibly assertive that it seems like it should be overbearing, but it’s not. It’s so good.
The broth is zesty and creamy and rich, with a roasty sesame flavour and a mild nuttiness (not to mention a bit of a spicy kick) that’s fairly irresistible. It’s absolutely not subtle, but it totally works.
It’s topped with a green onions, a whole bunch of tasty ground chicken, and a silky sous vide egg that basically just melts into the soup and makes it even richer. Add the chewy noodles into the mix, and you’ve got a seriously tasty bowl.
I also tried the fried brussels sprouts (“fish sauce, yuzu, chili, mint”), which are nice and crispy and feature a great balance of flavours — the fish sauce is the first thing you notice, but it’s also sweet and zippy in a way that’s really satisfying. Brussels sprouts tends to be a divisive vegetable, but I dare anyone to try this and deny that it’s delicious.
Location: 821 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
Madame Levant is a brunch spot with an interesting gimmick; most of the menu consists of brunch classics “with a Levantine twist.”
Actually, maybe using the word “gimmick” to describe what they’re serving here is unfair. Based on the two dishes I tried, Madame Levant manages to combine brunch standbys and Middle Eastern ingredients in a way that feels completely organic.
First up was the Halawa Pancakes, which the menu describes as “GF flour blend pancakes served with orange blossom tahini maple syrup & topped with pistachios and ward (dried flower petals).”
Halawa — a sweet, tahini-based dessert — and pancakes turn out to be a great combo, and the floral notes you get from the orange blossom and flower petals complements it perfectly. I feel like I need all of my maple syrup to be infused with tahini from now on; it adds a richness and a mildly nutty flavour that really amps up its deliciousness.
The pancakes are gluten free, but aside from a slightly denser texture than the norm, they’re very good.
I also tried the Sujuk Scrambled: “beef sausages finished with pomegranate molasses, 3 soft scrambled eggs, with a side of hummus, pita, & olives.”
This one’s pretty basic, but when you’re dealing with good ingredients that are well prepared, sometimes simpler is better. The sausage is tasty and the eggs are nicely creamy. Hummus and eggs aren’t a combination that I would have thought of, but it works. Nothing here knocked my socks off, but it’s a solid dish.
Caramel Sundae at Tom’s Dairy Freeze
Hey, gotta take advantage of Tom’s while they’re around (they’re closed all winter). On this particular visit I got a twist with hot caramel sauce, and yeah it’s as tasty as ever.
Cherry Milkjam at Bang Bang
I’ve found Bang Bang to be a bit hit-or-miss lately, but when they’re good, they’re still really good. This particular flavour is actually a “twist” of sorts — it combines cherry ice cream with dulce de leche, and yeah that’s a great combo. The cherry is a bit sour on its own, but mixing it with the sweet richness of the dulce de leche tempers its tartness and is thoroughly delicious.
Fried Chicken Sandwich at Rudy
I’ve already written about the fried chicken sandwich at Rudy (A.K.A. the Valentino), so I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but it’s still nothing particularly special. It wasn’t overcooked this time, so it had that going for it, but it was almost aggressively middling. If I you had told me it was a fried chicken sandwich from a fast food chain like Wendy’s or A&W, I would have believed you. And Rudy’s is expanding quite a bit; I guess they’re becoming a fast food chain themselves, so… it is what it is. [shrug]
Location: 1184 Queen Street West, Toronto
I recently tried the Nashville hot chicken sandwich at Chen Chen’s and found it to be a quality fried chicken sandwich that was spicy, but otherwise a bit on the bland side.
Well, clearly the Szechuan x Nashville sandwich is the way to go, because it’s thoroughly tasty — no seasoning issues here. And the fried chicken itself was just as good as last time, with a nicely crunchy exterior and a juicy interior.
I will say, however, that I’m not really sure what the sandwich does to deserve the “Szechuan” moniker; aside from a mild sweetness, it doesn’t taste all that different from standard Nashville hot chicken. I didn’t notice any numbing heat or any spicing that screams “Szechuan,” but hey — tasty is tasty. I enjoyed the sandwich. I’m not going to complain.
I also tried the sweet chili cauliflower, which the menu describes as “Fried Cauliflower tossed in sweet chili garlic sauce, topped with toasted sesame seeds, and green onions.” It’s really good — the sauce is sweet and a little bit spicy, and the cauliflower is crunchy on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside (it’s tender but still has some bite — it’s not mushy at all).