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Chowhound in Today's Toronto Star

Yongeman Jul 19, 2006 01:47 PM

Jim Leff was in Toronto recently. Here are some hot tips.

  1. j
    joudit Jul 19, 2006 06:46 PM

    That's how I found out about the site. I freaking love it. I'll be here often to add my two cents!

    1. t
      The Berserker Jul 20, 2006 12:10 AM

      The print version mentions Arax. Don't bother going there -- it's out of business.

      4 Replies
      1. re: The Berserker
        lissar Jul 20, 2006 02:24 AM

        It was still in business when I walked home past it this evening. They have wonky hours, though. They closed for reno for a bit, and reopened a few months back. I'm glad- we have too few decent restaurants in the Beaches.

        I bought the Star today in a show of chowhound support. All hail Jim Leff!

        1. re: lissar
          Jim Leff Jul 20, 2006 07:40 PM

          Don't hail me, hail the city. Toronto is an amazing chow town. Most locals are pretty lazy, hound-wise, so there's incredible unsung treasure hanging low on the trees. Every trip I find 10-12 world class haunts. I feel like Superman off planet Krypton, it's so incredibly easy.....

          Arax is in biz. Be prepared for a totally eccentric and domineering owner. If you don't like wacky scenes, it's not for you. Me? I like character (and characters). And his mom cooks like an angel. Oh, and Alex Falafel, just down the block, is really really good (I didn't thoroughly investigate, so am not sure if everything's consistent...get the chicken shwarma sandwich with lots of toom, or garlic sauce).


          1. re: lissar
            The Berserker Jul 22, 2006 01:47 AM

            I walked by Arax again tonight. Still out of business, since July 10th, according to the "Notice to Tenant" posted in the window. And the signage has been removed.

            1. re: The Berserker
              Scribe Aug 30, 2006 12:29 AM

              Nooooo, I want to go there tomorrow for my anniversary. We were there in May for hubby's BD, and Raffi and his mom made us an amazing dinner (with Raffi's entertainment, of course.) I've been trying to call and the number is out of service. Damn.

        2. Juniper Jul 20, 2006 08:52 PM

          We have loved Arax for years. We always have a great time there - Raffi is an excellent (and crazy in a good way!) host. Arax is one of the few reasons I ever head to the Beach area. I'm glad it's getting some press and some discussion on this board.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Juniper
            cream Jul 20, 2006 09:55 PM

            Arax is great, but be prepared. Raffi decided what we were eating and thankfully he chose well (wouldn't let us see menus). I think he really adds to the experience. Agree with Juniper's description of his hosting, he decides what you eat, what you drink, when you can pay and will likely make you get up and dance! If you can handle it- it is a great time!

            1. re: cream
              Jim Leff Jul 20, 2006 10:21 PM

              I'm quite sure his decisions would be open for input, if one was properly respectful about it!

              But he loves to diagnose what people need to eat. It's part of the charm (though I realize lots of people hate this sort of thing...which is why so many places are safe and bland).

          2. j
            jackackattack Jul 21, 2006 02:56 PM

            Arax sounds like a blast...where exactly is it and what kind of food do they serve?? Do you need reservations?

            2 Replies
            1. re: jackackattack
              Juniper Jul 21, 2006 08:08 PM

              Arax is on Queen East, in the Beach, close to the Lick's. Raffi is Armenian, so he might explain it as Armenian, though that will get you in to politically tricky waters since Turks/Kurds, Syrians, and the Lebanese can also make claims to the kinds of food Arax serves.

              1. re: jackackattack
                Jim Leff Jul 21, 2006 08:20 PM

                They do Turkish-Armenian. But they're not trying to be an ethnic exhibit...it's not a full-range menu of Turkish-Armenian hits. But momma's one heckuva cook, and I'd eat anything she made me. I doubt you'd need reservations, but I wouldn't go there fri/sat night unless I was a regular, it might be too nutty (there's usually dancing involved) and loud for a first visit.

              2. l
                lissar Jul 21, 2006 05:37 PM

                Alex's shawarma is inconsistent. Sometimes his shawarma is good, and sometimes it's gristly and gross. The falafel is pretty decent, and his lentil soup is good.

                Some time I'm going to stop at Arax on the way home from work and bellydance on a table. They frequently have awesome Arabic pop music playing. They serve Middle Eastern food, I think.

                The beach isn't great for food, beside Arax, Ed's Real Scoop, and Kafe Konditor.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lissar
                  Jim Leff Jul 21, 2006 08:21 PM

                  Yeah, forgot to note that the falafel itslef didn't look great. I had one really darned good chiecken shwarma sandwich, though, at the harberfront. It's essential to ask for all the fixings, including toom (garlic sauce) and bright pink pickled turnips. No lebanese chicken shwarma sandwich should ever be eaten without those things.

                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    cream Jul 22, 2006 12:54 AM

                    The pickled turnips are called luft in arabic. Next time you are in town head north to Warden and Lawrence. Nasr's grocery store sells many different varieties and some amazing olives.

                    1. re: cream
                      Yongeman Jul 22, 2006 02:50 AM

                      That's good to know, cream. I love the shawarmas from Farhat, a couple of doors east of Nasr. They garnish them with 'luft', my favourite topping.

                2. l
                  lissar Jul 22, 2006 04:15 AM

                  Mmm... Nasr. They have so many good things.

                  I like the baklava at Arz better, though. It's very buttery.

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