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Jun 8, 2007 10:44 AM

Obscure cuisine in Toronto

We're quite blessed here, having a number of restaurants representing otherwise obscure cuisines (e.g., Tibetan, Somali, Senegalese), but a friend of mine and I over a couple of glasses recently were wondering whether anyone knew of, for example, an Albanian cafe, a Kurdish joint, an Icelandic fish house, a single-example-of type of place. Anything is game.

Thanks, my hounds.

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  1. Second that with the following caveat: Nasi Padang (or any other indonesian cuisine) anyone? I mean besides the festival going on this weekend?

    5 Replies
    1. re: yoyodyne

      Oooooh... what festival? Please enlighten me!

      1. re: vorpal

        oh vorpal! i'm surprised you don't know about this one! the indonesian christian church is having their annual food bazaar tomorrow. starts at 11 am. only problem is it's near York U so getting there'll mean either a car or an early start.

        here's the church's website: give them a shout and they'll give you the details. i won't be able to attend this year so please report back if you go.

        1. re: yoyodyne

          > starts at 11 am. only problem is it's near York U
          > so getting there'll mean either a car or an early start.

          Oh, come on, it's just a short bikey. :-)))

          1. re: yoyodyne

            *grins*... I'm so pathetically uninformed about all the going-ons in Toronto! I usually find out about them through friends and acquaintances a few days after the fact...

            I'm recovering from an illness, so I may have to wait until next year, but I'm really going to try to make it out to this one if I think I can manage the trip! My experience with Indonesian food is minimal and I would love an opportunity to change that.

            Thanks for bringing this to my attention, yoyodyne! It's really appreciated!

            1. re: vorpal

              I'm the same way. totally underrepresented cuisine in these parts. shame too since the food sounds great!

              I know you read the eating asia blog so you probably already know about the Malaysian community picnic on July 21st in Wiliket Creek Park and the independence day festival in august but just in case, here's the link:


              i'm hoping to hit one or both of those.

      2. Banu on Queen West (@ Euclid) is billed as an Iranian Vodka Bar which may fulfill your 'obscure' criteria. Grilled chicken, beef, tomatoes, etc with traditional dips/sauces and wraps - delicious. Great service & hospitality too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: thebutcher

          i'd say you're missing the most obscure items! do they not serve the hearts and testes anymore?

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            They're still on the menu!
            Still recall the best restaurant meal I had in Iran - which was heart. (But Iran was the worst restaurant destination I've ever visited - I exclude the home-cooked food)

        2. The Albanian community including two or three family run restaurants, is generally to be found on Dundas St West. near Runnymede.
          I think there is a Mauritian place on Bloor St. near Keele.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jayt90

            The Mauritian place is called Blue Bay Cafe, on Dundas, just northe of Roncessvales and a bit south of bloor (south of Hue's room and the boxing gym)....unfortunately, they seem to only be open Fri and Sat. They have amazing and very cheap Samosa's, good, inexpensive fish dishes - our favourite is the fish with Vinday sauce (between $10-15) and great noodle dishes - e.g. Chicken Mine Frire.

            1. re: DDD

              We went there years ago and took friends from out of town. It was really good and unique!

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Years ago, I remember a delightful Moroccan restaurant, in the Yorkville area. I think there was also another somewhere. I've since looked up Moroccan in the resatuarant luck.
              And I have to go all the way to Thunder Bay to get Finnish?



              1. re: violabratsche

                You might be referring to The Sultan's Tent, which used to be at Bay and Cumberland (or Yorkville...), but is now on Front Street around Church. Haven't been there, but I admit to being interested. Where else can you watch a belly dancer while you eat?

                1. re: violabratsche

                  No, not Thunder Bay, but at least Sudbury.

                  Leinala's Bakery and Scandinavian Foods

                  1. re: violabratsche

                    Sultan's Tent is now on Front Street, south side.

                    1. re: violabratsche

                      As a demi-Finn, I share your pain. There was Bistro 422 at 422 College years ago, that was a Finnish resto. It's now sort of a punk bar... no reindeer cutlet. Is the Hoito in the Finlandia Club in TB still open?

                      Does anyone know of any Finnish delis, or anything like?

                      1. re: hungry_pangolin

                        There's Hillside Cafe on Mount Pleasant.

                        I tried them last summer-their pulla and pirrakka are ok, but I'm pretty hard to please with these things (spoiled by my grandmother's). On the plus side, there's no overload of cardamom in the pulla (which I cannot stand).

                        They also carry Finnish coffee (Paulig)-a perfect mild evening coffee, and a line of great Finnish mustards-Turun Sinappia.

                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                          Kiitos, SWN, I shall follow up on your suggestion. You and I part company on the cardamom issue, though. Does Hillside sell the Finnish-milled cardamom? The last time I was able to get it was this winter in South Porcupine!

                          1. re: hungry_pangolin

                            I'm sorry, but I don't know if they sell Finnish-milled cardamom. But do let us know if you find any.

                            Hyvää päivää Hungry Pangolin!

                        2. re: hungry_pangolin

                          And as far as I know, the Hoito is still about an institution!

                        3. re: violabratsche

                          Boujadi on Eglinton is pretty good.

                        4. Yeah! Went there... super tasty!

                          See review >>

                          I went to a great place last week. It was a Seneglease place in the heart of kensington market called:

                          Teranga Afrikan Bar

                          159 Augusta Avenue
                          (416) 849-9777

                          It was neat as there are only 300 Seneglease in Toronto. So, I tried the "Thiebou Djeun" (sp) which was a rice/stuffed grouper dish and a bunch of plaintains.... really tasty. The bill was about 20$,

                          Kinda good for a change of habit and not a wallet buster.

                        5. There are some cute little shops that sell only Korean walnut cakes. They're little cakes the size and shape of a walnut, with a filling of custard, red bean paste or potato pastes. They're absolutely delicious, especially hot out of the oven. There is a shop on Bloor near Christie in Koreatown.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: merlot143

                            you can actually find these treats in some Chinese malls now. You can go to 2nd level of the Pacific Mall, there's a small Korean store selling them plus some homemade kimchi and stuff.

                            Also there's another store inside the plaza at Hwy 7 and Kennedy in Markham selling walnut cakes.

                            1. re: merlot143

                              Mmmm, where are the best custard-filled ones? I usually only see the red bean paste ones, which I'm not fond of.

                              1. re: jinxed

                                I'm also interested, as I've never seen custard before. Red bean and potato seemed to be the standard fillings in the Koreatown shops. Then again, I'm awfully partial to the red bean (much to the surprise of one server, who was recently immigrated and had somehow gotten the impression that white girls don't do red bean)

                                As an aside, the walnut cake place on Bloor near Christie also sells delicious pancake-like cakes that are stuffed with a walnut/brown sugar goo. PURE HEAVEN.

                                1. re: tartiflette

                                  the walnut cake shop in pacific mall makes chestnut/potato, red bean (my fave), english custard cream, and almond/potato(i think). the best is toasting them the next morning so the outside gets crisp.

                                  1. re: chocabot

                                    Is it upstairs? Can you give some landmarks for navigating? I remember there used to be one in the Heritage Town area on the left side, but I thought it was replaced with a BBT place when I went last week. I might have walked right past it though, I've been known to do that.

                                    1. re: jinxed

                                      There should also be one (last I remember) at the Peachtree Centre by Highway 7 and Kennedy, inside the mall area by the Hy & Zel's.

                                      1. re: jinxed

                                        you are correct. it is upstairs on the left, about 3 stores in... i don't think they shut down but if you were there last night....
                                        it's small though. the walnut cake machine is in the back left of the store. shelves on the left wall with the cooling cakes in clear plastic containers and the cash right up front. he has a screen capture pic of martin yan's visit hanging from the ceiling by the cash (very cute)

                                        1. re: chocabot

                                          Thanks! I don't know why I never tried the custard one before! Will rectify that asap.

                                          1. re: jinxed

                                            i tried the custard one when it was his "new" item and it was alright, though a little boring/bland imo. worth a try if you never had it i suppose (i wouldn't turn down any of his flavours) but i find the red bean the most full flavoured.