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Mar 6, 2006 11:08 AM

Calling Ottawa chowhounds...

  • n

I'm bored. Just a little bit. I've been looking for some diversity or adventure, but most people's recommendations seem to fall into contemporary/fine/regional/french-inspired. Not that these are bad things, i'm just looking for something new!

So, maybe we can put our heads together and figure out what Ottawa's best ethnic restaurants are. Just restaurants you feel excel at their given focus, or those one-offs that are your favorites.

These things tend to be pretty subjective, but I figure if anyone was to have good taste...


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  1. Well, again, I can only speak for the veg dishes at these restaurants, but I was very impressed with them.

    Indian - The Roses Café(s), Curries
    Thai - Khao Thai, Aiyara
    Chinese - So Good
    Vietnamese - Chez Nam (OK, so it looks like a church basement - the food rocks!), that little place on Dalhousie close to Murray
    Moroccan - Kasbah Village
    Ethipian - African Palace
    Malaysian - Chahaya Malaysia
    Mexican - Ahora
    Lebanese - Fairouz, Middle Eastern Bakery (OK, not really a restaurant - but try the sweet flatbread!)
    Japanese - Ichibei (I'm sure there's better, but I haven't been to many places)

    What Ottawa needs in terms of ethnic restaurants is: South Indian (dosas, etc.), assorted South American (arepas, etc.), Korean (bibimbap, etc.), non-sushi Japanese (okonomiyaki, etc.), Chinese from other regions (red-cooking, etc.), Indonesian (nasi goreng, etc.), Caribbean (plantains, etc.) and Eastern European (kasha varnishke, etc.). And more street food, beyond the ubiquitous chipwagon.

    8 Replies
    1. re: piccola
      Pamela Hesketh

      For vegetarian restaurants, check out this site.

      1. re: Pamela Hesketh

        Not sure exactly what is meant by “ethnic food” ;-) -- but it’s been great reading all these suggestions.

        Apologies for this long post:

        A good Indonesian restaurant would be wonderful! Ottawa sorely needs that. I’ve read that Chahaya Malaysia on Blair serves Indonesian food as well. Anyone tried?

        In terms of South Indian, more would be nice, but there are already two very good ones: 1) Coconut Lagoon on Saint Laurent. I was there last night and knew I’d be back next week when I saw a sign up for a Dosa Festival March 12-17, this menu looks delicious

        2) Ceylonta on Somerset. My favourite lunch buffet in the city. Great if you’re vegetarian too.

        And if you like the heat of South Indian cuisine, you’ll also probably like Goan food. Their site is hard to navigate, but Cumin and Goan got a nice write-up in Ottawa City. Another must-try.

        Korean: Joy on Somerset and Kwon's Korean BBQ (cook it yourself) in Sandy Hill, on Wilbrod, are both good. I wish Joy wouldn't make you feel like you're being kicked out early at the end of every meal though. I used to really like the one on Rideau too, but I haven't been there for ages and don't remember what it's called.

        Japanese: I like Ichibei. The sushi at Lapointe's is obviously ultra-fresh too.
        What I’m interested in terms of Japanese now is finding the best soba in Ottawa. Anyone have a suggestion?

        Pho: Tastes are extra subjective when it comes to pho, but out of a dozen or so places I’ve tried, I find New Pho Bo Ga La to have the most consistently good pho. Plus the decor is nice and the staff is friendly and super-efficient. Good wrap and roll platter too. Which must be why I am in there at least once a week.
        I also really like Vietnam Noodle House’s pho and broken rice dishes, atmosphere and staff are great there too. They just need a few more customers.

        To the person who was lamenting the lost sausage cart (I feel your pain): it's not on the street, but if you want a really good, cheap sausage for lunch, head down to the Sausage Kitchen in the Market. $2.49, my friends. And lots of options. Very fresh buns. You can't beat that.

        South American: Again, more would be nice. But there is a great Salvadorian place on Merivale: La Cabana. Amazing pupusas. I also keep hearing raves about El Pavo Loco in Hull, also high up on the to-try list.

        I've had good dishes here and there, but what I have the most trouble with finding in Ottawa is good consistently good Chinese food. My Chinese friends say there are no good places in Ottawa, just mediocre. And my parents lived in China so they're picky too. For the longest time their favourite was Tatung in the east end. After that closed, it’s been Manadarin Ogilvie all around (for Dim Sum and regular meals) with the Yangtze as runner-up. I really like Northern Han for wheaty northern Chinese cuisine. And does anyone have a favourite Chinese place specifically for hot pot?

        Phew, sorry, told you it was long!

        1. re: Lucy

          Great stuff! Thanks for all your suggestions.

          1. re: errant

            Thanks for all YOUR suggestions! Sometimes you just need to see something in type for it to register. Like, how many times have I walked by the Corner grill in the Glebe and not thought to go in to try their breakfast? Will definitely check it out.

            Re: vegetarian Korean options, that's tough. It isn't on the menu, but I think you can ask for a veggie bbq-your-own dish at Kwon's Korean BBQ and they will accommodate you. And all their noodles and riceballs etc. come in vegetarian versions. I love those sticky, glassy sweet potato noodles. Mmmmm.
            Joy I don't remember being so hot on the veggie options. If memory serves, the lunch menu would be better for that than the dinner one....? If you eat eggs, their scallion pancake/omelette is very nice.

          2. re: Lucy

            My main issue with Ottawa's Korean restaurants is that there aren't many veg dishes.

            I need to try some of those pupusas...

        2. re: piccola

          Thanks for suggestions--they're going on the list. I've always called Ahora 'the basement mexican place'

          I also absolutely agree that the street-food scene is deplorable. I'm supprised that nobody has opened one of those street chow-mein carts for the 'late night' crowd.

          1. re: Nathan

            Do you remember the sausage stand in the Glebe? I think it was Donna's? You could get about 10 different kinds of sausages that she made. Mmmm. I wonder where she went?

            1. re: Nathan

              How about hot chestnut cart? I miss this a lot.

          2. I really like Pho Sai Gon on Booth Street. So far, they win for the best Pho Ga in Ottawa. And their spring rolls and rice paper rolls are pretty good too. No booze.

            12 Replies
            1. re: errant

              I've yet to find good veg pho in Ottawa. But as for rice paper rolls, I stand by Chez Nam - that's some of the best tofu I've had, and they don't skimp on the filling.

              1. re: piccola

                The mushroom rice-paper rolls at Cam Kong on Somerset are my favourite veggie ones. I think they sneak fried onions in there as well... yum.

              2. re: errant

                errant : I'm also a Glebeite in search of walking-distance take-out...

                1. re: Nathan

                  I guess you've probably tried all the Indian places then. Vietnamese Village on Bank just south of Gladstone does great wraps but DON'T EAT THEIR PHO. It's awful. I mean really awful. But their BBQ pork rocks. Also, have you tried Civic Shwarma and Pies just south of Fifth Avenue on Bank Street? It's pretty good.

                  1. re: Nathan

                    Well, the Glebe doesn't lack Indian take-out, if that's what you're looking for. :-)

                    For the rest, Siam Kitchen's not bad for greasy Thai; Friitz's fries are a meal unto themselves; and I'm pretty sure the Glebe Café does take-out. None of them are top rate, but they'll do when you don't want to cook.

                    Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised by the food at the Arrow & Loon. Their veggie burgers are great, and I hear their wings are pretty darn good, too.

                    1. re: piccola

                      Arrow and Loon used to have a smoked duck salad that was good too. I've heard good things about traditional pub favourites (chicken pies and the like) there as well.

                      1. re: piccola

                        Friites on Bank has been closed for many months.

                        Arrow and Loon used to be so much better! I think they have changed owners, maybe. Fries have gone from fresh cut skin on to the frozen variety, tired salads, etc.

                        I really like their chicken wings too, though. And great beer! I`ll, try the veggie burger next time.

                        1. re: Mary Louise

                          Ack, sorry - I haven't been back to Ottawa since last summer (I'm away at school). Thus missed the Friites closing.

                        2. re: piccola

                          Have you tried the Corner Cafe (previously the Globe) for breakfast? It's pretty cheap and conventional, but tasty and great value. It's PACKED on the weekends now.

                          1. re: errant

                            I haven't tried it yet... passed by a few times, seems like your typical bacon-and-eggs, but hey, nothing wrong with that. I was always a bit dubious of the high turnover in that spot.

                            1. re: Nathan

                              Errant, thanks for the suggestion. We tried Corner Cafe for Sunday brekkie and Nathan you're right, it's a standard eggs and bakey place--but it's a pretty good one. Two of us had different bennies (florentine and the glebe roasted veggie one), which were nice. I liked that they were on slices of baguette or ciabatta rather than english muffins, the eggs were done just right, the hollandaise was acceptable, and I liked the chunks of onion in the homefries. Good service too and not too expensive.

                              I was a little freaked out by all the TVs in there (3 or 4), but I guess some people like to watch tv while they're eating.

                              I will add it to the breakfast rotation for sure.
                              Is it worth trying for dinner?

                              1. re: Lucy

                                I don't know about dinner. We went to it once when it was the Globe Cafe -- a different owner, I think -- and it was TERRIBLE. Ugh. It took a lot of courage to go back in there, I tell you.

                                It's a basic spot for breakfast for sure, but it's good, plentiful and cheap! Bacon and eggs. Reasonable price. No nonsense. YAY!!! Beats the $80 I paid at Urban Pear (and I like Urban Pear) for brunch for three, no booze, just fancy eggs.

                                I might try lunch one day if I'm in the mood for a club or something. However, the best burger in the Glebe is InFusion (the best hommus too).

                    2. Some of my favourites:
                      Sunday Brunch: Village Cafe
                      Lunch: Cafe Paradiso
                      Pizza: Colonnade
                      Foodcourt: 240 Sparks
                      Afternoon Tea: Chateau Laurier
                      Eclectic (with a view): Santé
                      Moroccan buffet: Dar Tajine
                      Affordable fine dining: Algonquin College, International Restaurant
                      Expensive fine dining: Juniper
                      Indian lunch buffet: India Palace
                      French: L'Oree du bois, Chelsea
                      Fusion no frills: Good Food Company, Carleton Place
                      Best bakery (coffee and sticky bun): Three Tarts

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Kathleen

                        re: Algonquin College, International Restaurant

                        How do you go about eating there? Reservations? I thought about trying to find out if they had a student restaurant but somehow got sidetracked and appreciated the reminder. BTW, how was your experience there?

                      2. Here are some of my Favorites:

                        Indian: Biryani House
                        Thai: Khao Thai, Sweet Basil,Baan Thai
                        Chinese: Palais Imerial, Mekong
                        Vietnamese: Pho Bo Ga La, Vietnamese Kitchen
                        Japanese(Sushi): Sushi Kanata(causeit is close to home), Ebi
                        Fusion: Zuni Grill
                        Spanish: 222 Lyon
                        Italian: Fiamma (sorta Italian... thier fire oven pizza's rock)
                        Chain: Milestones
                        All Time Best in Ottawa: Beckta