Toronto has a plethora of Pan asian joints ranging from Chinese takeouts, street foods, ramen bars,Thai bistros, food trucks and fine dining fare serving up some great exotic cuisine.It has now become a serious foodie destination.
Looking for quality asian restaurants could turn into quite a daunting task as each neighbourhood focusses on specific cuisine, given the multi cultural diversity.
The Chinatown neighbourhood around the city does offer a spectacular fare spanning across Vietnamese, Dim sum, Japanese and Cantonese. While the mid town and places up north too quite easily match upto some great dining experiences.
Each year the food scene in Toronto seems to be getting increasingly interesting with new eateries opening up and lending a vibrant and eclectic vibe around the city. Whilst some focus on the classic traditional menus ,others twist it around to cater to the modern new age or Asian fusion cuisine, alluring younger un-conventional palettes.Either ways there is a lot of extraordinary cuisine on offer and to fit every budget.
I’m a glutton for good food, and it goes without saying will track down the best in each city and write about it ofcourse. I’ve rounded up a few of my my favorite places, some new and some good old ones.These are primarily around the North York, Richmond Hill and Downtown area’s of Toronto. They have soon become our most frequented jaunts as they are a burst of wonderful flavours and aromas that delight the taste buds with a creative and delicious twist.
So if you are hankering after some good Burmese bowls, spicy chilli chicken or even hot and fiery Indo-Chinese style hakka cuisine, do pop by any of the ones that listed below and you I can assure you that you will be soon be coming back for more.
Popa: Toronto recently opened its doors to this new eatery located in the Bayview village mall.The restaurant serves up a delectable fare which is a fusion of Burmese,Macanese and Balinese flavours. Named after an inactive volcano, Popa had our senses delighted on a recent visit at dinner.A quique and first of its kind here in Toronto, the menu compromises of various salads, small sharing plates, curries and grills such as the Kebat’s. Of course the most recognisable being the Nam Gyi Thoke or more popularly known as Khao Suey which we sampled was spot on in flavours and delicious with an array of various condiments.We also devoured a wonderful Rangoon chicken curry, a steak kebat,a chilli chicken and some vegetable noodles. Co-owned by Chef Hemant Bhagwani & Trevor Lui and the culinary expertise of Chef Sudhan Natarajan in the kitchen, Popa offers a diverse and delightful menu under one roof. A must visit if you are around the Bayview village area.
Location: 2901 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M2K 1E6 (Bayview Village Mall)Phone: (647) 343-8555
2. Schezwan Gourmet: This place is an absolute old favourite of ours. The restaurant sports a homely and casual vibe. The restaurant has probably been around for a decade or two, serving up some authentic schezwan dishes. The cuisine is known to be the spicier version of Chinese cuisine and the dishes incorporate the use of garlic, chilli peppers hot sauces and schzwan peppercorn.So if you are in the mood for some spicy and bold falvours to tickle your palette,you may head right to this place located close to the intersection of Bathurst & Steels.Spicy chili chicken, prawns in chilli oil, crispy fried beef, curry spring rolls, Schezwan fried rice and of course the Schezwan fried beans are some of our favourites at this place. The place does fill up fast and tends to get quite busy, but wait times are not to long due to a quick turnaround in service.
3.Tangerine: We were recently introduced to Tangerine by friends of ours that are ardent fans of this restaurant located in Richmond hill. This place is frequented for its Hakka style of Chinese .Hakka cuisine is most often characterised by its salt and fragrant flavours and wide use soy, rice wine, garlic and ginger in its cuisine.The hakka are people originating from the Central Plain of China, however the Indo-Chinese that settled in Calcutta India also polarised the hakka style of cooking which is an adaptation of Chinese ingredients and cooking technique to suit the Indian palette. Hence many Indian ingredients such as green chilies,turmeric ,coriander powders would be incorporated into this cuisine.A glimpse into what we enjoyed; chicken manchurian soup with appetisers of spicy ball of deep fried Bombay chicken and main course included garlic fried rice,pepper prawns with green scallions,chicken with vegetables and a spicy beef in a black bean sauce. So if spicy Chinese is what you crave, Tangerine will certainly yield best results.
4.Ding Tai Fung: Now if you are a huge fan of Shanghai style dim sum and yes absolutely, the Xiaolong Bao which is ever popular one at the Din Tai Fung, then it’s worth a half an hour trek from North York to this restaurants that is located in a strip mall in Markham.However this place is not to be confused with the Taiwanese chain. I had heard rave reviews for this place on a community forum and being absolute fans of the original Din Tai Fung Xiaolong Bao’s and made a qucik drive there last week. They have a fairly exhaustive menu and was a tough choice to make.
They are open only for takeaway at the moment and we went right ahead and ordered the Xiaolong Bao, Green Onion Pancakes, Pea’s and ham fried rice, Shrimp in a chilli sauce and some sauteed beans in minced pork. The meal was well enjoyed by the family, the Bao comes quite close to it’s counterpart and is a burst of flavour while we hungrily eat them, with vivid memories of our Singapore visit. The green onion pancakes were crisp and flavourful,The beans and rice were cooked to perfection, I;m not a huge fan of a saucy shrimp and prefer a dry version so will perhaps order another dish the next time around.
But yes, very worth the visit.
Location: 3235 Hwy 7 #188 First Markham Place
5. Eat BKK:
A craving hot and spicy Thai curry most often leads us to our favorite takeaway, Eat BKK around the Yonge- Sheppard area,that dishe’s up Bangkok style street eats. Our favorite is the Thai green curry with rice. Of Course the menu has other favorites like Chicken Satay, Pad Thai, Panang Curry and lots more. They have various locations around the city including bistros by Yonge -Steeles, Queens West and Leslieville to name a few.
Phone: (647) 352-8989
6.Ramen Isshin ( Chef’s Assembly Hall)
We discovered Ramen Isshin located in the bustling Chef’s Assembly Hall by, during the pre covid era. In pursuit of deliciousness, this place ticked off all boxes. Our bowl of ramen was every bit soupy and with sufficient portions of wok fried pork, Home made Isshin chilli sauce, chilli oil, Isshin red miso blend, wok fried pork, onions, bean sprouts, carrots, wood ear mushrooms, chives, green onions, pork belly cha shu, all topped with wonderful thick noodles. This was a Ramen Isshin Red Miso. They have a huge variety of their Ramen Isshin Originals like Black tan tan Noodles, Shoyu Tsukemen, White Sesame Shio Ramen and the Kawasaki tantah noodles.
7.Uncle Tetsu’s: If you are a Japanese Cheesecake lover you have every reason to rejoice.Uncle Tetsu’s is a cheesecake haven located on Dundas west.This absolutely luscious,cotton like, soft baked cheese cake is a delicious treat at this iconic cafe in the downtown area.They usually have a long line up and are quite fussed as they prefer to limit only one cheesecake per customer.Originating in Japan,they now have cafes world over.While most baked cheesecakes are dense and tend to have a crust,the Japanese counterpart uses lesser cream and more eggs incorporated that make them more fluffy and almost souffle like in consistency. This place is a must try if you enjoy Japanese cheesecakes.
Toronto is indeed a food lovers haven that boasts numerous restaurants and cafes, patios,food markets,culinary festivals and artisanal stores.This is just a quick roundup of some of the places in a nutshell. Stay tuned as I eat across the city and discover more hidden gems that are sure to evoke your senses and tantalise your tastebuds.