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Jan 27, 2007 10:46 AM

Toronto - San Francisco = ?

I'll be in Toronto for a few days soon on business and want to plan ahead to eat as well as possible.

Ideally I'd like to find any ethnic / regional food we don't have in San Francisco. I've heard there's a big Caribbean population but I don't find much about that in the archive, maybe I'm using the wrong search terms.

Beyond that, I prefer rustic, ingredient-driven, "slow" food to creative, chef-driven haute or fusion cuisine. My favorites of such places at home are Chez Panisse, Incanto, Oliveto, Pizzaiolo, and Zuni. Just reading the menu at French Laundry makes my stomach queasy.

Reading through the archive, these jump out at me:

Lee Wah Heen for dim sum
Chiado for Portugese (very rare in the SF area)
New Bilan for Somali (none in SF area so far as I know)
St. Lawrence Market or Kensington Market for scene & peameal bacon sandwich
Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar for good selection of wine and "Canadian tapas"
Rashnaa for Sri Lankan (none in SF area)
poutine truck in front of City Hall

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  1. Swatow serves Chiu Chow cuisine, is that right?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I'm not sure, but Chiu Chow Boy in Scarborough ( 3261 Kennedy Rd. on east side) serves pretty good chiu chow style cuisine. Pacifiic Mall is about 30 seconds north of there if you're interested in something different in retail malls and it has many good ethnic oriental restaurants inside and out.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        We're pretty well set for:

        Afghan (roti at an Afghan place? huh?)
        Chinese (except a few more obscure regional cuisines)
        sushi flown in from Japan

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          They serve Chiu Chow fish ball noodles, but not the signature Chiu Chow main dishes like "spiced duck", "crab cakes" etc.

        2. Ah ! A chance for you to go to Boujadi , and you tell me!
          My suggestion, so not to avoid disappointment, is to go to a Portguese bakery (NOTa Nova Era or Golden Wheat) for buns, and to a German, Hungarian, Polish or Russian delicatessen for cold cuts. For dessert, this time of the year the fruit is imported, with the exception of some apples. I suggest an apple for dessert, but you have to know your apples. The grapefruits are good now but get only small one's (56s in the trade, only from Florida, and not reds. Pinks are delicious, reds have lost their balance.)

          Something tell me that my recommendation will be ignored. I sincerely do wish to read a report of the places that you do go to.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

            Hungarian? We currently have none. Tell me more.

            We're pretty well set for German, Polish, and Russian.

            There's reportedly a good Portugese bakery in San Jose but that's 50-60 miles of awful traffic from my house. Might try to hit a good one on my last day and get some stuff to take home.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              If you do get to a Portuguese bakery, be sure to get some good, crusty cornbread ("pao de milho"). My husband and I discovered this flavourful, dense, yet moist bread on our honeymoon in Portugal 21 years ago. It's delicious on the day it's baked, and great toasted afterwards.

              The Portuguese pada buns are not as special as the cornbread.

              By the way, if you can't get to an actual Portuguese bakery, don't despair. Carousel Bakery in St. Lawrence Market sells Portuguese cornbread. That's where you'll be getting your peameal bacon sandwich, no doubt.

              And do try to get to St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday morning, when the north market building is open in addition to the regular south Market (which is closed Sundays and Mondays). You'll find farmers, butchers, purveyors of organic foods, artisanal cheese makers, and more.

              If you can get there, the smoked meat at Centre St. Deli is as close to Montreal smoked meat as you'll find in the Toronto area. It's located in Thornhill, just north of the City of Toronto proper. Make sure to order the "old-fashioned" version (and medium, as opposed to lean), which has more spices and is more typical of the old-style smoked meat.

              1. re: FlavoursGal

                The corn bread at the churrasco place in St LM (north from Carousel) used to sell great corn bread! Anybody have it recently?

                1. re: deelicious

                  No...I forgot about that place - right at the northwest entrance to the market.

                  Another treat for you to try, Robert: Portuguese churrasco (grilled) chicken with hot sauce. They also have great chicken sandwiches, made in pada buns.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                for a Portugese experience, I'd recommend you try churrasqueria chicken - toronto has several places. my fave place is Dupont BBQ (on Dupont/Symington): great roast chicken with piri piri sauce, they also have some baked goods including some buns, custard tarts, and my personal favourite, the portugese sweet bread (they sell out fast and you can ask for a fresh loaf from the back, they'll bring it out while it's still hot and it will blow you away (I usually finish half in the car).

                I didn't see Turkish on your list; if it's not avail in SF, I'd recommend Anatolia for a Turkish experience.

                If you're in the St. Clair West area, you can hit several great spots just by walking west of Bathurst: Albert's Real Jamaican (542 St Clair W), another Portugese churrasqueria place called Churrasco on St. Clair at Christie, Mezzetta (middle eastern tapas style), El Fogon (Peruvian)....

                I think New Bilan is a unique experience and a definite must

                happy chowing in TO....

                1. re: berbere

                  And if not Anatolia, have lunch at Pizza Pide, kitty corner to Gerrard Square mall. Great Turkish pizza. Ask for #18 (I think) -- the one with all the different kinds of meat.

                  1. re: berbere

                    Ugh: Dupont BBQ. But let me explain... I lived close by some years ago and frequented the place. Delicious chicken, never dry, and consistently very tasty: attributes that can be fleeting in the Churrasqueira world. The downside was the place itself: very, very messy and frankly unclean looking. Now I'm one who has a pretty strong stomach (so to speak) when it comes to such things, but it got to the point that it actually looked dangerous, and I reluctantly vowed that I'd never go back. I haven't.

                    Have they cleaned up their act??

                2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi


                  The Portuguese bakery suggestion is a good one. Except that he NEEDS to try a custard tart. They're just so good.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    Not just for custard lovers either! Someone somewhere on CH compared them very roughly to those Burgundian bee-wax pastries (most obscure response ever? does anyone know what I mean?)

                    1. re: julesrules

                      You mean canelles? They look sort of waxy, and when made properly are custardy in the middle.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yes, cannelles. There was a thread, once upon a time, where people were discussing cannelles and someone said they could be compared in a very limited way with pasteis de nata. Regardless, I am not overly fond of custard and I love these things. It's the blackened surface of the custard, and the textural contrast between the pastry and the custard.


                  1. re: NovoCuisine

                    Ditto. And they have lovely Portuguese corn bread there, too. Ask for the "wine bar" menu for some really lovely appetizer sized plates. I actually prefer to make a meal out of several of these, even though the fish mains at Chiado are wonderful. And make sure you talk with the sommelier to pick out a great Portuguese wine -- they have an amazing list.

                  2. Yes, yes to Chiado and Lah Wah Hen.
                    You might want to try Little Tibet (Queen St W) for some authentic and family made Tibetan food (my favourites include their vegetarian momos (fried not steamed, but that is personal), or their lamb curry and steamed bread if you want some cold weather comfort food.- depends whether you want a light or heavy meal. Skip the butter and salt tea though :)

                    I've had the masala thosai at Rashna only once, but it was very good. You can check out their menu on their Website.
                    Carousel Bakery is the peameal bacon sandwich place of choice at St Lawrence Mkt.
                    You also might try out some of the Quebec cheeses while at the market.

                    There are also some interesting Ethiopian choices. I've only been to Adis Ababa, but you can do a search for more options and opinions.

                    For Carribbean, you may want to do a search on Roti or West Indian.My fav roti place is Bacchus Roti on Queen St W. But this is a hotly debated topic on our local board.

                    I did a quick search on Roti and came up with an Afghani place that looks good. Not sure how much of that you get in SF.

                    Check out the post below for some other foodie tour suggestions.

                    Have fun, I just came back from a day in SF. We had tapas at the Spanish place B33 out of nostalgia, but it seems to have gone downhill since I last went. And I loved Chez Panisse when we went a few years ago.

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