LA Hound visiting Toronto, check list and need more recommendations.
I'll be in Toronto for a conference in two weeks and staying in the Hilton there. I'll be there for 3 days and am looking for places to try. Need suggestions for all three meals, especially good coffee in the morning.. ;)
I've been searching and this is what I come up with:
breakfast, bagel: Bagel World and Gryfe's.
sushi: Japango (lunch specials or sushi bar/omasake?)
indian: Little India
poutine: blue chip truck on Queen St (crossstreet?)
chinese: Bright Pearl (for dim sum?), Yueh Tung (what kind of chinese is it?)
I know there's bunch of authentic chinese in the san gabriel valley area in LA and I live in that area. But I've been told that Toronto has even better chinese and would definitely want to try them out.
What are some not to miss places i should try? I'm also looking for uniquely regional or canadian that i can't find in LA.
chinese: i would avoid bright pearl as its glory days have passed and switch it to rol san across the street, unless you really want carts.
if you're a noodle and soup or congee fan, do go to king's noodles as they make everything in house and you can watch them do so. the service is a little haphazard when it's busy but it's fresh and great.
dumpling house in chinatown will satsify any and all dumpling wants/needs.
i know that someone is going to say that the better chinese food as moved upwards and east so that you'd need a car, but there are still great options downtown.
sushi: japango is fantastic, be forewarned that there isn't really a "bar" but they do a lovely omakase that's a touch more classic than innovative. discuss price and preferences ahead of time so as to not be surprised. ask if they have the baby crabs and get one fried up!
coffee: moonbean coffee in kensington off of st andrew is my particular favourite because their micro-roasted beans seem to be lower in phenols and are good to my stomach. they have a huge selection of coffees and teas from around the world. the atmosphere there is more sort of a indie hippie hectic.
bulldog coffee on church st is a really nice option for mellow wood panelled atmosphere and latte art to boot. the coffee there is top notch and done as one-offs of one type of bean. owned and run by a barista champion.
if you're up for doing canadian tapas, i hightly suggest jamie kennedy wine bar a 9 church st. the wine selection by tasting size is quite nice and you can try an upscale poutine along with local/organic small plate offerings.
for something that feels french bistro-esque go to la palette in kensington. the meats there are done absolutely deliciously.
there are a few threads for visitors going on right now and they also have great suggestions. hope you have a wonderful time and enjoy the eats we have to offer.
I spend about a quarter of my year in LA so I'll try to provide some comparative analysis for you in this post.
The Chinese food you will find in downtown's Chinatown will not be very different in quality as what you find in San Gabriel. The exception might be Lai Wah Heen at the Metropolitan Hotel on Chestnut and Dundas. It serves high-end dimsum that I've never seen in the Chinese restaurants I've been to in LA.
If you have time to kill and wheels, you can travel north to the suburbs of Richmondhill and Markham, where you can get excellent Cantonese and decent renditions of other Chinese regional cuisines. Ambassador and City Inn are frequently cited on this board for great Cantonese, while Magic Wok is a reliable stalwart.
As for sushi, Japango will satisfy a sushi craving - fish is very fresh and they have the best (IMHO) spicy scallop roll in the city. However, I tend to see a larger variety of fish in LA sushi joints, and so sushi is not something I would necessarily recommend to anyone coming from the west coast for that reason. I think you get a much more "exotic" sushi experience at places like Sushi Gen and Nobu.
In general, avoid Thai food in Toronto since it isn't even close to being as good as the Thai you find in Thai Town. Also, the Ethiopian on Fairfax is better than what I've found here in Toronto. Mexican is also not something that Toronto is good at... we don't have the critical mass of Mexicans needed for good Mexican food.
The poutine truck you speak of is located in front of City Hall, at the corner of Queen and Bay. BTW, did you know you can find poutine at the Canadian Cafe in Monrovia? :)
Toronto also has a glut of french bistros that I think are a much better value than what I've found in LA. La Palette on Augusta south of College is great for grilled meats and Le Paradis is a good neighbourhood place for comfort food.
LA also doesn't have much of a "pub culture"... Toronto has a number of fun pubs where you can have a pint and a bite to eat after work: The Irish Embassy and the Hair of the Dog get mentioned frequently on this board.
I've also found that Toronto has a higher concentration of Italians than in LA. Tutti Matti is a favourite of mine for southern Italian. 7 Numbers and Gio Rana's are fun and casual places for Italian that are a cab ride away.
Hope that helps, somewhat.
Oh, and I should add that while Little India is great for lunch buffet, you may want to check out Trimurti, next door, for good a la carte (especially their naan, and tandoori chicken and cauliflower).
Yueh Tung means "Canton East", so you'd expect it to serve Cantonese dishes, but it serves also "Hakka cooking" which has some Influences from India, some signature dishes being chili chicken and Mongolian chicken (I doubt it's really Mongolian in origin.) I myself would not recommend it to an out-of-towner.
Bright Pearl has the traditional dim sum carts, but the quality of food isn't the best. Rol San across the street is better, but it's menu based.
Just a word of warning.... You would have to get up pretty early if you would want breakfast at Bagel World and Gryfe's. While the other places you have in mind are located downtown and within walking distance, those two places are way,way uptown -- a good 40 minutes by TTC subway or if you are very adventurous, 45 mins by taking the Bathurst bus straight up. I should know, I live near both those places and years of experience travelling downtown and back home at all hours of the day.
While Bagel World has more of a sit-down restaurant feel with assortment(I'm guessing, haven't been there in years), Gryfe's is very small and busy "bakery" (they only make small bagels)and in my humble opinion, they have the best in Toronto.
But pinstripeprincess' and Juniper's suggestions regarding the downtown locations are pretty good.
But there are downtown places that serve Gryfes Bagels. For example, the Bento Nouveau place in Scotia Plaza (King between Yonge and Bay) serves a morning 'coffee and bagel' for $1.50. But be warned, they sell out quickly. There also used to be a coffee place that sold them in the underground 'PATH' just east of St Andrew station (north side of King) but I haven't checked recently.