Chinese Street food at Gao’s Crepe

Gao's Crepe in the Emerald Park food courtLocation: 9 Bogert Avenue, North York (in the Emerald Park food court)
Website: None

There’s a Chinese street food called jian bing that’s fairly ubiquitous in China, but virtually unknown over here.   And I’m not sure why — it’s super delicious, and it’s cheap and relatively easy to make.

That’s why I was so excited when I found out that a little place called Gao’s Crepe in the Emerald Park food court serves these things.

Gao's Crepe in the Emerald Park food court

That food court is hidden away on the bottom level of a condo near Yonge and Sheppard; you’d never even know it’s there if you’re not specifically seeking it out.  But it’s a gem.  Aside from the crepes, there’s several interesting-looking eateries here, mostly Asian.

Gao’s Crepe doesn’t even have a sign, and there’s no English menu posted — again, if you didn’t know it was there, you’d pass right by.  But the jian bing they’re serving is the real deal.

Gao's Crepe in the Emerald Park food court

Jian bing is essentially an eggy crepe that’s coated with hoisin sauce and hot sauce, sprinkled with green onions and cilantro, and wrapped around a crispy piece of fried dough.  The version at Gao’s Crepe is freshly made right in front of you (you can watch the chef doing his thing).

Gao's Crepe in the Emerald Park food court

It’s quite tasty.  The contrast between the chewy crepe and the crispy fried dough is really satisfying, and the vibrant flavours of the hoisin and the hot sauce matches well with the freshness of the green onions and the cilantro.

Gao's Crepe in the Emerald Park food court

It’s not as good as the versions I had in Shanghai — it’s a little dry, and the balance of flavours feels just a bit off — but then that sort of comparison is always unfair.  We’re a million miles from Shanghai, and it’s quite good.

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Me Va Me

Me Va Me - Jerusalem Mix Laffa
Location240 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: http://www.mevame.com/

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting a heck of a lot from Me Va Me, and so its level of quality was actually a pretty delightful surprise.

They have a decent amount of stuff on their menu, but I homed in on their laffa wraps.  I had a pretty great experience at Dr. Laffa a few months ago, so I was hoping for more of the same.

(For the initiated, a laffa is thicker and more substantial than a pita; it’s somewhere between traditional pita bread and naan.  It’s delicious.)

They have a few different wraps on the menu, including the mysterious Jerusalem Mix.  There’s no mention of what this is anywhere on the menu, so I asked: it’s a mixture of chicken liver, heart, thigh, and sauteed onions.

it’s hard to tell from my shoddy picture, but this thing is crammed to the gills with stuff.  They give you a very, very generous amount of meat, and cram a ton of other stuff in there as well (the usual assortment of pickles, veggies, and sauces).  I asked for everything except for onions, because raw onions are the worst and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise.

Again, you can’t tell from my terrible picture, but this thing has heft.  It’s about the size and weight of a newborn baby: those with smaller appetites are advised to share.

I was getting worried that it was going to turn out to be overstuffed, but somehow, all the various flavours worked perfectly together.

Foremost were the various chicken bits that make up the Jerusalem Mix.  Seriously good. It was perfectly cooked, with the juicy thigh pieces working perfectly with the liver.  I like liver, but even if you don’t, the flavour is mellowed out by the sauteed onions and all the the other stuff.   I’m not entirely sure that the heart was necessary — there were a few vaguely rubbery pieces that I’m assuming were heart.  Still, tasty stuff.

I don’t think the laffa itself was quite as good as the one from Dr. Laffa, which was amazingly fresh and close to perfection.  But taking the whole package into account, I’ve gotta give the edge to Me Va Me.  All the stuff they mix in there worked really well, and the chicken itself was above average.