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Sep 26, 2006 07:49 PM

Americanized palates? The real deal?

Something that has bothered me in the 20+ years of my sojourn in this metropolis.

To me there seems to be an inordinate preference for, and subsequent proliferation, of restaurants that dumb-down their native cuisines to suit the traditionally bland and unadventurous Anglo (and assimilated population's) palate. This is obviously good business sense in operation but leads to true chowhounders embarking on all too frequent hit-or-miss excursions when searching for authentic exmaples of international cuisine.

So, fellow Toronto 'hounds, especially those who have sampled cuisines abroad or who have grown up in households where mom or dad still cooks food that schmecks, can you help us by suggesting restaurants which are true to their roots, i.e. spare no quarter in terms of providing genuine ancestral cuisine?

Many thanks in adavnce!

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  1. For Japanese: Sushi Kaji and Hashimoto I'd say fit the bill.

    1. Head to Biryani House on Roy Square, not the new one at Wellesley, for a true North Indian food experience.

      I'd say Rashnaa at Parliament & Wellesley fits the bill for South Indian fare.

      1. Thanks for the recs.

        A couple of personal favourites:

        Patisserie/boulangerie - Pain Perdu for impeccable, buttery croissants (not the doughy, sweetened imitations that are so prevalent here), beautiful baguettes, and toothsome pastries and gateaux.

        Knosherie - Mel's Montreal Diner for, duh, Montreal-style deli deliciousness.

        Any napkin-worthy East European restos out there?

        1. Not sit-downs, and I'm sure this an obvious suggestion, but on Roncesvalles there are many great little deli-type spots that have great traditional eastern-European fare available. Not for the carb-wary though.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jamesm

            I'm all eyes. Got any particular favourite restos/dishes that suggest babushka is toiling in the kitchen?

            1. re: jamesm

              I'd have to recommend Polonez for soups, pierogi, basically anything. I've heard some good things about Staropolska on Ronces as well, but haven't been there myself.

              1. re: Anna B

                Thank you Anna. Where exactly is Polonez located?

            2. I used to go to the Garden chinese food restaurant on Dundas and Bay with a freind of mine from Macau. He would order for us in chinese and the food would come out amazing. I then would go in without him and order the same dishes and get... bland canadianized food.. chenese vegies would be replaced by carrots and broccoli portions would be small and of course a knife and fork would be offered.. they assumed that that is what i wanted..

              I bet many other places also do this.. so my best advice is to talk to the manager and tell them that you want the "authentic food" and maybe you will get lucky...

              2 Replies
              1. re: OnDaGo

                Ah, the blessing and the curse. The desire to please and the sense of frustration.

                Your advice is sound when it comes to ordering "ethnic" cuisine in many restos. Except French of course, where what you order from the menu is what you get, and you better clean your plate or go hungry. ;) Seriously, if you do ask for the dishes to be prepared "as you like them yourself" some places are willing to oblige (and often staff will keep an eye on you out of curiosity).

                In what specific eateries have people found this to be a welcome experience?

                Anyone have recs for genuine Polish, Russian, Czech, Slovak, and/or Croatian restaurants/dishes?

                1. re: mrbozo

                  Not sure if you're still looking, but definitely Prague Deli, on Queen West (west of Spadina). They've recently renovated, and they now have more of a restaurant (but still have the deli, of course). I am Czech, and my mother very often shops there (I would too but I don't live in T.O. anymore). My favorites are the roast pork and the roast duck (with dumplings and sauerkraut). The deli is great too, you can take a lot of stuff home for the freezer (like bread dumplings, etc.).