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Apr 27, 2007 03:27 PM

Craving for Kishka with Gravy

This may sound a bit weird to some C'hounds out there, but I am having a serious craving for kishka with gravy. I have a feeling you'll recommend the usual (e.g. Centre Street, Pancer, etc.) but any suggestions as to the best kishka out there? Is Yitz's any good? I hate when it comes out all soggy; it is much better when the casing is well done and crisp. Has to be good gravy too.

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  1. Once you've experienced the kishka at Balkan's restaurant in Montreal (circa 1968), you are spoiled for anything else. Yes, Centre St and Pancer's (and Perl's if they ever reopen) are probably Toronto's best. Nortown's is edible. But you really need to make your own to get something truly delish. And I'm now craving a leaden, fattening food, devoid of any positive nutritive value, from a defunct Montreal restaurant. Oy.

    7 Replies
    1. re: embee

      Make my own?? I wouldn't even know where to start. My grandmother used to make it when she was here; I haven't had home make for years. I guess my mom still has the recipe. I'll ask her, although I don't think I'll be making that any time soon. A 35 y.o. born-in-TO male going schmaltz shopping - that's funny. I guess it's not much different than going to Cumbrae for a tub of duck fat.

      I don't think the kishka at Perl's has the real casing any more (due to health regulations??? - that's what my mother told me she heard at Perl's). I think it comes in plastic now. That sucks.

      You have made me crave the kishka at Balkan's too, and I've never even been there :-)

      Maybe I'll try the kishka at Yitz's tonight. I know it will be a soggy mess, but it's close and my girlfriend has a craving for a home banquet burger from Burger Shack around the corner. Best burgers in town. Yum. My bubby would not be pleased.

      1. re: embee

        I'd choose Pancer's over Yitz's. My last one at Yitz's was so old that the skin almost had to be cut with a steak knife...Totally Awful!
        I actually like Nortown's and often put it in with a Brisket...or even with a roasted Chicken..confession...if I'm using it with Chicken I buy a pkg. of McCormack's Mushroom Gravy...not bad at all!(I am a lousy Gravy maker!)

        1. re: embee

          And I have vague recollections of kishka from the Noshery on Eglinton about the same era, embee. Yum.

          1. re: embee

            Don't underestimate Coleman's at Bathurst and Lawrence (go north one street past Lawrence and turn east into the little strip mall NOT the big mall on the west). You can count on them for the old classics--great gravy of the old-fashioned comfort variety, kishkas, knishes, and of course, latkas--the latkas really are delicious. The corned beef hash is the best in Toronto and they also have some good for value dinner specials. Plus, you can mix and match to get your perfect meal--for me, it's latkas, new dills, and a knish and maybe a slice of pie--their pies are good too and they use quality ice cream for the a la mode. The nicest part about Coleman's , though, is that there really is a sense of community in the place.

            1. re: YumBum

              I'll certainly agree with your assessment of Coleman's corned beef hash. Definitely the best in Toronto. The latkes are okay. However, I feel their knishes are a ripoff and the gravy nothing special. I've never had the kishka.

              1. re: embee

                I can't believe that I can't make up my mind about the 'worst' Kishka I've ever eaten..once at Yitz's it was so bad that the part that wasn't covered in gravy was so tough and dry on the bottom that I could have used a steak knife and I'm not sure that even that would have worked!
                The other Kishka was at Coleman's and I think it was a dead heat between which was more awful...but honestly, I would never eat Kishka at either place again. I find Pancer's acceptable, but to me, the best is from "Nortown'" reheated in my own kitchen with either my own (not very good..(defrosted) gravy or a can of Franco-American mushroom gravy in a pinch.
                Don't knock the F.A. Gravy it is not highend or designer it's just a very easy & fairly good substitute for the real thing in my opinion.

          2. I had one of my frequent cravings for halishkes (cabbage rolls) a few weeks ago, so I headed to Katz's Deli for takeout. Their halishkes are perfect, as long as you ask for some that haven't been sitting in the steam table for hours - I often buy them cold and reheat at home.

            While I was standing around the takeout counter, I eyed the kishke and bought some, with gravy. Not good - the kishke itself might have been fine, but the gravy was thick, gloppy and way too salty.

            I've been told that one company makes the kishke for all the delis in Toronto. Can anyone confirm this?

            8 Replies
            1. re: FlavoursGal

              Katz's gravy tastes fake. You need to get the "pastrami sauce" for moisture. I agree with you about their cabbage - probably Katz's one great dish.

              I don't know about the manufacturing provenance of Toronto kishka, but it does seem to look the same everywhere. Of course, the collagen or plastic casings now in wide use would cause this also.

              1. re: embee

                My sources tell me that Susur will do kishka on his new menu. Can't wait.

                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                  anyone who remembers the sadly missed original Noshery, must be almost as old as I am.
                  Miss their chopped liver on rye, which was then deep fried.
                  Also their ribs!
                  All kishka in Toronto with real casing tastes about the same.
                  I am not sure how anyone can eat the plastic casing stuff!
                  Pancers, Katz's Pickle Barrel, and Nortown.
                  Problem is that sometimes the deli's nuke it and you get that tough leather like casing.
                  Nortown's takeout is not bad, and I think because I steam it to soften it, it tastes a little better than the deli's.

                  1. re: erly

                    Wasn't that chopped liver deep fried on rye French toast?

                    1. re: erly

                      I'm definitely your age or maybe even older!..Anyone remember Steffof's? How about The Egg? Many a Bridal Luncheon/Sweet Sixteen in the basement of The Towne(?)....also the restaurant in Lawrence Plaza whose name I can't remember.....

                      1. re: pearlD

                        Yes, it was covered in the egg mixture before being fried.
                        Also their wonderful Chow Chow sandwich, which I must now replicate at home.
                        I wish that we had more of this type of restaurant in Toronto.
                        Something for everyone.

                        1. re: erly

                          I do not remember this - what was it?

                          1. re: embee

                            roasted pork tenderloin in lots of sauce containing hoisin, served on a large roll with honey mustard.

              2. When it comes to authentic Jewish / Yiddish deli dishes my vote always goes to Pancer. When you're ordering the kishka you might also add an order of cabbage borscht with the no-charge traditional boiled potato plopped in the middle of the bowl.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Bob Catt

                  I have a fried from Scotland who says he aalways missed genuine haggis until he tried kishka. There is a good deal of similarity between the two, he claims.

                  1. re: ekammin

                    They are conceptually similar, but they don't taste remotely alike. I find it hard to imagine that someone who didn't grow up eating kishka or haggis would willingly develop a taste for either one.

                    Kishka is traditionally a stuffed cow intestine, but is now more likely to be a collagen tube (which bears some similarity to the real thing) or a plastic casing (don't ask). The stuffing allows for great creativity, but most folks who make it aren't into creative inspirations. There are recipes for supposedly lighter and more nutritious "mock kishka" in some modern Jewish cookbooks, but why bother? It's an old fashioned comfort food, assuming one's digestive system can still cope. It is typically made of flour, fried onions, salt & pepper, possibly some garlic, and lots of chicken fat. Some people put in bits of meat. It is then roasted until browned, sliced, and then sauteed in its own fat to brown the cut slices.

                    Haggis is prepared similarly, but is traditionally a sheep's stomach stuffed with oats and all kinds of offal. Thinking about it a bit, haggis would seem to have more nutritive value, but is even more an "acquired taste" than kishka.

                    1. re: embee

                      Please....for Kishka the only place is Marky's (280 Wilson at Bathurst). Beef knish and the Borscht is pretty good too. And what other resto has weiners and beans on the menu?

                      1. re: Finnegan

                        I always thought that Regina's at Sheppard and Wilmington had a good take out version but it has been years since I have there. Can anyone confirm?

                2. I know they're not famed for their cuisine but I've always loved the kishka and the gravy and Marky' me crazy, if you must.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fleisch

                    I agree with you Fleischy...the food at Marky's ain't fancy (and the service can bit cold) but it is authentic. Actually I think people go to deli's to get abused...I love the rude service at the Carnegie Deli in New York when unwitting tourist try to make substitutions from the menu. Priceless

                  2. Marky's has been closed for at least 6 months and is scarcely missed.
                    Oldsters will remember Kishka with gravy at the old Noshery Restaurant on Eglinton Ave W. whichsubsequently moved to the lower level of Yorkdale Plaza... of course this is going back at least 30 years. But I have yet to taste a better Kishka to this day. And no one makes Kishka with natural casing any more. Oh, for the good old days!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Doctormhl1

                      The question remains: where can one find real kishka in Toronto?

                      1. re: acd123

                        Caplansky's. They serve it crispy so if yours isn't when you're served, send it back! I forget where they get it from - I think Pancer. The benefit of ordering it at Caplansky's is that the smoked meat gravy is solid!

                        1. re: justsayn

                          CRISPY kishka? really? like deep fried?

                          1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                            No I believe it is dry-baked so that the skin and edges crisp up.

                            1. re: justsayn

                              hmmm... sounds good! (not sure deep fried kishka would work...LOL)

                              1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                LOL - no! Truth is that given the fat content, baking is as good as frying!! : )