Ketchup Ice Cream (and More!) at The Ex

Ketchup ice cream at The Ex
Location
210 Princes’ Boulevard, Toronto
Websitehttps://theex.com/

The Ex!  It’s back!  And clearly I’m not the only person excited about this, because despite going in the middle of the week after work, the place was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it.  Clearly, there’s a lot of pent-up demand for sketchy rides, junky food, and stores selling random knick-knacks.

Of course, I was there for the food, and yes, I tried the ketchup ice cream.

The Ex

Two dollar spaghetti from Primo Spaghetti

This place has been around forever, though this was my first time actually trying it.  It’s pretty much exactly what you’d think a two dollar serving of spaghetti at a carnival would be: the sauce tasted like the cheapest stuff you can buy at the supermarket, and the spaghetti was overcooked mush.

The Ex

Deep fried perogies from The Perogy Chef

This is another place that’s been around forever; I’ve tried this one before and I knew it would be good, and indeed it was.  The perogies are tender, tasty, and slightly crispy on their exterior, and they’re doused in an oily sauce and a bunch of sweet caramelized onions.  The sour cream on the side adds a nice creamy zing that rounds things out quite well.  It’s a tasty snack.

The Ex

Flamin’ Hot Chicken Sandwich from Fried Chicken Sandwiches

This place promises a chicken sandwich that’s tossed in chipotle mayo and coated in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  Alas, the Cheetos (or Cheeto crumbs, more accurately) are just mounded on top, which isn’t quite as fun from an appearance or a taste perspective.  The whole thing is fine — it’s not the best fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever had, and it’s not the worst — but it barely has any Flamin’ Hot taste or texture.

The Ex

Viet Burrito from Pho 88

This is less of a burrito and more of an overstuffed fresh roll, but it’s still pretty tasty; it’s crammed with noodles, various veggies, chicken, and a whole spring roll, and it’s wrapped in rice paper.  It would have been nice if the peanut sauce were in the wrap instead of on the side (it’s a bit dry), but otherwise this was pretty good.  It’s basically like a Vietnamese vermicelli noodle bowl, but crammed into a handheld package.

The Ex

Fried cheese curds from the Midway

I wasn’t expecting it, but this might have been the best thing I ate at the Ex this year.  The curds are gooey and tasty, and the super satisfying crispy exterior doesn’t overwhelm.  It’s basically like a mozzarella stick, but better.  There’s not much more to say about this one.  It’s fried cheese.  It’s great.

The Ex

Ketchup ice cream from the Midway

Of course I tried the ketchup ice cream.  How could I not?  They also serve mustard ice cream; I was hoping to get both in a twist, but alas, that wasn’t an option.  I suppose I could have ordered one of each, but one of these things costs twelve bucks and I wasn’t about to spend over twenty dollars on novelty ice cream.  Anyway, it wasn’t bad!  Would I eat it again?  Absolutely not, but considering how disgusting this could have been, the fact that it’s actually pretty okay is kind of a miracle.  It has an unmistakable but (and this is key) not overwhelming ketchup flavour, which combines surprisingly well with the ice cream.  The ketchup flavour is present enough that you know exactly what you’re eating, but subtle enough to let the sweet ice cream be the star of the show.  It’s not gross!

Quick Bites: Pho Tien Thanh, Ice Creamonology, Nani’s Gelato

Pho Tien Thanh
BBQ Pork on Vermicelli at Pho Tien Thanh

Not a ton to say about this one — aside from the pork being a bit dry, this was a tasty version of a classic dish.  Most of the herbs and veggies are under the noodles, so you’ll just have to take my word for it, but there was a really good proportion of meat, noodles, herbs, and vegetables.  The meat was a little bit sweet and nicely savoury, and the whole thing was thoroughly enjoyable, if nothing too mind-blowing.

Ice Creamonology
Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake at Ice Creamonology

I wasn’t crazy about Ice Creamonology on my first visit, but I’ve been back a couple of times and it’s definitely getting better (or maybe it’s just growing on me?).  The ice cream is nice and creamy, and while it’s still a bit stretchier than your average scoop, it’s not as gummy as it was the first time I tried it.  I will say, however, that I haven’t been back since they’ve moved to Queens Quay, so I have no idea how it holds up now.

Nani's Gelato
Pumpkin Pie soft serve at Nani’s Gelato

I recently mentioned that the Pumpkin Pie Blizzard from Dairy Queen is the king of Blizzards, and this is basically just that, but a billion times better.  I tried this last October (I’m still working my way through my backlog since the blog came back from hiatus);  if you like pumpkin pie, the next time Nani’s brings this back (hopefully sooner than next October), you need to try it.  It’s so good.

Pho Ngoc Yen is a Hidden Gem

Pho Ngoc Yen
Location
: 1090 Kamato Road, Mississauga
Website: https://sites.google.com/orderup.ai/ngocyenrestaurant/home

Pho Ngoc Yen is one of those restaurants that must rely pretty much entirely on word of mouth; hidden away in an industrial neighbourhood in Mississauga, it’s basically in the middle of nowhere.  The odds of you stumbling onto it are quite miniscule.

Pho Ngoc Yen

But yeah, it’s definitely got the word of mouth that it needs, and I can see why — it’s great.

Pho Ngoc Yen

I got the Pho Ngoc Yen Dac Biet, which the menu describes as “NY’s special: rare beef, beef balls and boneless beef shank with rice noodles.”

Pho Ngoc Yen

It’s a great bowl of pho.  The generous amount of meat is tender and tasty, and the broth is beefy, richly spiced, and thoroughly delicious.  The noodles were slightly on the soft side, and my bowl was missing the beef balls, but the broth and the beef were both so tasty that this never felt like a big issue.

A Solid Sandwich at Banh Mi Saigon

Banh Mi SaigonLocation: 1133 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Website: None

It’s hard to go wrong with a good banh mi; it’s cheap, filling, and delicious.  And yes, Banh Mi Saigon serves a good one.

Banh Mi Saigon

The menu’s pretty basic — they have seven different types of banh mi, and they all cost $3.50.  I went with the assorted, which comes with the usual medley of Vietnamese cold cuts, pate, and pickled veg.

Nothing about it particularly jumped out at me, but for $3.50 for a hefty sandwich, it’s hard to complain too much.

Banh Mi Saigon

I will complain a little bit, though.  In particular, there’s so little pate that I couldn’t even taste it, the cold cuts were ho-hum, and the bread pretty much wrecked the roof of my mouth (though it was otherwise fresh and tasty).

Still, it was a tasty sandwich; it just wasn’t anything too mind-blowing.

Delicious Banh Mi at Rose’s Vietnamese Sandwiches

Rose's Vietnamese SandwichesLocation: 601 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
Website: None

Like many banh mi joints, Rose’s Vietnamese Sandwiches is ridiculously cheap.  I had the standard cold cut banh mi, which is crammed with meat and pate, and costs a paltry three bucks.

This is simultaneously amazing — cheap, delicious food! — and crappy.  There’s an unfair expectation that a lot of Asian or Latin American cuisine should be served for rock-bottom prices, which makes it unnecessarily difficult for the people who run those restaurants to make a living.

Rose's Vietnamese Sandwiches

I’m not going to rehash what many other people have written on the subject, but it does kinda give you pause.

Setting that aside?  It’s a tasty sandwich.  The assorted meats banh mi is the classic — it’s got Vietnamese cold cuts, chunky pate, pickled veggies, and cilantro.

Rose's Vietnamese Sandwiches

It’s really tasty; there’s a lot of meat, but it’s perfectly balanced out by the sweet, vinegary pickled veggies, not to mention the abundant fresh cilantro.  It’s definitely a contender for  the best banh mi in the city, though I think there are a couple of things holding it back from greatness.

The biggest issue: I wish it had more pate.  It has a thin spread of pate that’s entirely overwhelmed by the sizable layer of cold cuts.  You miss out on the satisfying contrast between the meaty cold cuts and the creamy, minerally pate.

Rose's Vietnamese Sandwiches

The other issue is the bread.  It’s certainly not bad, but the exterior doesn’t quite have the light crispiness you’re looking for, and the whole thing is a bit dry.

Still, those are fairly minor complaints — it’s a solid banh mi, it’s just not quite up there with the best that I’ve had.