Tasty Arepas at Maiz

MaizLocation: 3220 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://maizlatinfood.ca/

Maiz is a new-ish Latin joint on Yonge street with a variety of tacos, burritos, and arepas on their menu.

I tried an arepa and quite enjoyed it, but the menu is clearly hit-and-miss.  I went with a group of four; two of us got arepas and enjoyed them mightily.  The other two got a burrito and a veggie bowl and found them to be mediocre at best.

Maiz

So who knows!  I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant where the group was so sharply divided, but the only thing I tried was the arepa, and it was quite tasty.

Specifically, I tried the adobo arepa, which features a whole bunch of braised pork crammed into a toasty arepa (which is a thick corn flatbread traditionally served in Columbia and Venezuela) and topped with pineapple.

Maiz

The pork was delicious; it had a zippy flavour from the adobo marinade and a very mild kick.

The texture was great –it was shredded, but not too finely, with a nice mix of lean and fatty pieces.  And it had obviously been crisped up on a griddle, with crispy pieces throughout.

The pineapple chunks were a bit too large, and the arepa itself wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked, but all in all it was a tasty dish.

Outstanding Japanese Crepes at T-Swirl Crepe

T-Swirl CrepeLocation: 510 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://t-swirlcrepe.com/

Creme brulee: delicious.  Crepes: delicious.  A creme brulee crepe?  Yes please.

I will, however, admit that I was skeptical; would this be one of those Instagram-friendly food mash-ups that never should have been mashed up?

T-Swirl Crepe

Nope, it’s exactly as delicious as you’re hoping it’ll be.  Actually, no; more delicious.

My only real complaint is that the top didn’t have the sugary, crackily crispiness that you’re looking for, despite being thoroughly torched.

Other than that, it was top notch.  The custard was a little bit too sweet — I suspect that it came from a mix — but it was still quite tasty, and certainly got the job done.

T-Swirl Crepe

There was also quite a bit of it; every bite had a generous amount of custard, even right at the bottom of the cone.

The crepe itself was the highlight; it was freshly made, with a chewy interior and a lightly crispy exterior that set it apart from the norm.  It complimented the custard perfectly.

T-Swirl Crepe

I enjoyed it so much that I went back a few days later for round two.  I tried the Mango Raspberry, and it was just as good as the creme brulee.  The crepe had the same addictive crispy/chewy contrast, and the filling featured a great balance of tartness and sweetness, with perfectly ripe chunks of fruit.

Average Mexican Food at Cinco Mexican Restaurant

Cinco Mexican RestaurantLocation: 131 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.cinco.restaurant/

Cinco is an unassuming Mexican restaurant on Roncesvalles that’s been serving up tacos and rotisserie chicken for about a year.  Nothing about it particularly stands out, but if you’re in the area, I’m sure you could do worse.

I tried a couple of things.  The first was the cochinita pibil taco: “marinated braised pork in adobo, six hour slow-cooked pork belly, queso oaxaca, topped with habanero onions.”

Cinco Mexican Restaurant

It wasn’t bad, though I wish they had taken the same amount of meat and split it into two tacos, because it’s kind of absurd.

The bites where you get a bit of everything — the shredded pork, the cilantro, the pickled onions — are really good.  But there’s such a heaping mound of meat that many (most?) of the mouthfuls are pork, pork, and nothing but pork.

Cinco Mexican Restaurant

This wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing, but the pork was quite dry despite being shockingly greasy (seriously, the amount of oil dripping out of the taco was insane.  The entire plate was swimming in it by the time I finished).

Still, it was tasty enough — the adobo-braised pork was tasty, the two blue corn tortillas were nice and fresh (the thin layer of cheese between them was a nice touch, but it was a bit too subtle to add much to the overstuffed taco), and the mouthfuls with a bit of everything had a nice balance of richness from the meat and acidity from the pickles.

Cinco Mexican Restaurant

I also tried the the chicken quesadilla, a daily special.  This was a bit of a head-scratcher; it was filled with pieces of plain chicken, and… that’s about it.  No cheese, no other ingredients (that I could taste, at least), just a whole bunch of stale-tasting chicken chunks.  But it was fine, I guess — especially once I started dipping it into the pool of porky grease from the taco.

Tasty Fried Dumplings at Sang-ji Fried Bao

Sang-ji Fried BaoLocation: 1 Byng Avenue, North York
Website: None

Sang-ji bao are basically like a traditional soup dumpling’s (a.k.a. xiao long bao) more rugged cousin.  They’re pan fried, with a slightly thicker skin and a dark brown crust on the bottom.  Soup dumplings are delicious, but if you want something a bit more hearty, sang-ji bao’s got your back.

And as you’d probably guess from the name, Sang-ji Fried Bao specializes in the stuff.  I was pretty excited to try it.

Sang-ji Fried Bao

We started with the scallion oil noodles, an absolutely delightful flavour-bomb of oily (but not overly greasy) noodles topped with peanuts and fried scallions.  The crunchy peanuts offer a nice crunchy contrast to the chewy noodles, and the imposingly dark fried scallions are packed with flavour and immensely satisfying.

I liked this dish even more than the fried dumplings.

Sang-ji Fried Bao

The sang-ji bao were certainly nothing to scoff at — they’re pleasingly porky and packed with scalding hot soup.  The wrapper is a bit too thick, however, and the whole thing is a touch on the bland side.

Sang-ji Fried Bao

Still, it’s got that satisfyingly crispy bottom, and the whole thing is tasty enough, even if it’s not the best version of these things that I’ve ever had.

Subtle (and Delicious) Pastries at Roselle Desserts

Roselle DessertsLocation: 362 King Street East, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.roselleto.com/

I think “subtle” is the best word to describe what they’re serving at Roselle Desserts, a charming little bakery on King, just around the corner from the Distillery District.

I tried three things: a chocolate chunk cookie, a chocolate souffle cookie, and a raspberry madeleine.

Roselle Desserts

The souffle cookie was the best of the three.  It had a rich, deeply cocoa-infused flavour, with a surprisingly subtle amount of sweetness.  It also had a really satisfying texture: lightly crispy on the outside, and soft and fudgy on the inside.

Roselle Desserts

Lack of sweetness seems to be a theme here; the chocolate chunk cookie was also way more subtle than the norm.  It’s a great quality cookie, with a nice chewy texture and a very generous amount of tasty chocolate chunks.

Roselle Desserts

Unlike the other two, the lack of sweetness felt like a detriment with the madeleine; this one was way too subtle for its own good, with only a vague whisper of raspberry flavour.  The sweetness here was so restrained that I’m not even sure this should be classified as a dessert.