Location: 4905A Yonge Street, North York
I actually wasn’t planning on posting this anytime too soon (I’ve got a bit of a backlog), but I’ve just heard that this restaurant is closing in about a week, so I figured I’d post this now while it’s still around. Check it out before it’s gone!
I could tell you about what Rougamo & Noodles is all about, but Karon Liu wrote about it for the Toronto Star in far more depth than I ever would, so… here’s the link.
I tried a couple of things mentioned in that article. First up was the pork rougamo, a simple dish consisting entirely of stewed pork on a chewy flatbread. This was a tasty if unspectacular sandwich that’s much improved by adding a healthy dollop from the jar of smoky chili oil on the table.
And of course, you can’t go to a place with noodles in the name and not try the noodles, so I went with their specialty, the signature biangbiang noodle. This is a really unique dish that features a single hand-pulled noodle that’s thicker, broader, and chewier than the norm. It comes topped with more of that stewed pork, along with a zippy, tomato-y sauce that works really well with the substantial noodles.
Location: 4916 Yonge Street, North York
Gamjatang (A.K.A. pork bone soup) is one of those dishes that might sound a bit intimidating on paper, since the bones in question come from the spine of the pig, which isn’t exactly a common cut of meat. But it’s so good.
(I was about to say “done well, it’s so good” but then I realized that I’ve never had a bad version of this dish. I’m sure they’re out there, but I guess it’s hard to completely mess up, because it’s always tasty.)
The version at Mapo Gamjatang was especially delicious, with a super flavourful broth and surprisingly generous (and ultra-tender) chunks of pork. Sometimes you have to work hard to find the meat on the bones in this dish, but this particular version featured a shocking amount of tasty pork. It’s delightful.
It’s a great deal, too. The regular bowl (large is an option, but trust me, regular is plenty) costs 13 bucks and comes with a generous (and tasty) assortment of banchan.
Location: 9 Bogert Avenue, North York (in the Emerald Park food court)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.