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Convert this Montreal foodie: Your advice please!

  • m

We are heading down the 401 to the "promised land" that is called the GTA! I have been lurking on your board, and have put together a potential itinerary, and would love your advice. There have been some claims that Montreal is overrated for food, and that TO is much better. So show me the money!

I've chosen a few categories, and obviously, I am not going to worry about French cuisine, can get plenty at home. But any extra suggestions would also be welcome. Very adventurous, have very broad tastes. Looking for hole in the wall places,but also don't mind some upscale. Surprise me!

1. MUST GET SOUP DUMPLINGS! Narrowed down our choices to Din Tai Fung, Hi Shanghai. Willing to try more than one place.

2. Chinese: Sounds like it might be worth wandering around the Pacific Mall area and Highway 7. Depending on interest of our friends, we are considering O-Mei, Peaktop for the suckling pig, maybe Szechuan Legend and Hot Spicy Spicy. Maybe Swatow late at night.

3. Dim Sum: Lai Toi Heen, City Inn Chinese and Casa Imperial are on the shortlist.

4. Mata Hari for Malaysian.

5. Roti: Island Foods (although I may have to get the oxtail, I adore oxtail, anyone had it?) and possible Ghandi for comparison.

6. High Street Fish and Chips for F&C and Melton Mobraw Pie! Yay! Will also try the deep-fried haggis! May also get to Mrs. Bridges for pies.

7. Hakka! Narrowed this down to Danforth Dragon or Yueh Ting, but would appreciate recent feedback for Lin Garden. Someone also suggested Tangerine Asian cuisine, but don't have much info on this.

8. Hollywood Gelato for the toasted marshmallow ice cream.

9. Coffee Mills: In search of Ludlab! But I love Hungarian cuisine in general.

10. Ramen: I noodle? there was a tantalizing note about ramen at a place called Solo sushi ya too, but any more info?

11. Fried Chicken at Ritz Caribbean. Any extra word on Harlem?

12. Will try some pizza/calzones at Bitondo or Columbo.

13. Will lurk around St. Lawrence Market (but likely on a weekday) and T&T.

14. Any suggestions for browsing for fine wine?

We will be in town over the Easter weekend. Will things be closed on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday? Any other Toronto must haves? Places to browse for good food? Have a car, willing to travel. Will obviously report back! Thanks for your help!

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  1. Wow, moh, that's a really interesting agenda you've got there! I think you should try to get to one of the Jamie Kennedy restaurants, either the wine bar on Church or the Gardiner museum. Generally considered a must-go-to, plus the food is just so good.

    I think the Coffee Mill will cover your Hungarian food craving, I certainly hope they have the elusive ludlab there! Years and years ago when I used to visit Montreal frequently, we often ate at a Hungarian place called Pam Pam, don't know if it's still there but many fond memories for me.

    I'm sure others will have comments on your other choices.

    Coffee Mill
    99 Yorkville, Toronto, ON M5R3K5, CA

    Jamie Kennedy
    9 Church St, Toronto, ON M5E1M2, CA

    Jamie Kennedy Gardiner
    111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: JamieK

      I was considering adding one of the Jamie Kennedy places. I am assuming the wine bar dishes are tapas style dishes rather than full mains? Which one do you prefer JK or JKG?

      1. re: moh

        I haven't been to JKWB (yet) but I loved JK Gardiner, which is lunch only by the way, unless you go their Friday night prix fixe (reservations important for that and lunch). JK Gardiner is where Michael Pollan ate before his lecture here last week and by all accounts enjoyed himself immensely.
        here's a typical lunch menu -

    2. 1) For fine wine go to the Summerhill LCBO. It's a destination liquor store. Or were you talking about a wine bar?
      2) Places that won't be closed on Good Friday are most likely the Chinese ones.
      3) You're prioritizing Roti...do you care about Jerk Chicken? If so, there's a thread somewhere around here debating best Jerk Chicken.
      4) From what I've read, Bitondo is better for calzones than pizza.
      5) While you're in the neighbourhood (i.e. College), check out Fish Store at 657 College and dive into one of Toronto's best sandwiches. You can select from a variety of fish types.
      6) Burrito Boyz for a burrito. I haven't been in a while, but always enjoyed it. Recent posts make it sound like quality has gone downhill. There are other places.
      7) In my opinion, Toronto's best bar is Allen's on Danforth. Great atmosphere and a very good burger can be had there but it's not on the menu.

      Sounds like you're gonna have a great time. Priorities are definitely in order.

      1. And for the record...Montreal ain't overrated.

        3 Replies
        1. re: grandgourmand

          Thanks Grandgourmet for that kind word about Montreal. I don't think it is overrated either, but I am willing to accept that TO does some things much better. But that is why we travel, for the best of all worlds!

          all great recs, and I have a question about Fish store. Are these fish sandwiches as in fried fish, or tuna salad type fish sandwiches?

          JamieK, thanks for the warning about reservations at JK. I will confer with our friends and see if anyone is interested, if not, perhaps I will wander off myself and give it a try anyway. The menu looks great!

          1. re: moh

            Oh I think Toronto has great stuff as well. Grass is always greener, though.

            Fish sandwich is grilled fish. Very fresh tasting, crispy toppings and a nice bun.

            On the st. lawrence vs. kensington, very different. Kensington's more of a hippie vibe. They're different and both good.

            1. re: moh

              like fried fish. also i vote for wine bar if you're going the JK route...possibly combined with a trip to st. lawrence market?...while you're at the market you could get a peameal sandwich from Carousel (topped with kozlich's mustard, also from the market), although it's really starting to look like you'll need an auxillary stomach!!

          2. 5. Roti- Good choices IMHO. Go for the butter chicken roti at Ghandi.
            12. One of my fave pizza places is Terroni on queen west and I'm sure most would agree they have amazing pizza. Not exactly hole in the wall but middle of the road.
            13. In the South Market upstairs get a peameal bacon sandwich at the carousel bakery. Or if your in the mood get a veal and eggplant or chicken and eggplant sandwich at Mustachio.
            Hit up the Kensington Market also if you have time. No foodie trip would be complete without a stop there.

            Most would consider my recommendations cliche. But they have amazing food and are tried and true. Have fun in T.O. and update us on how it went.

            8 Replies
            1. re: mlukan

              Oooh, peameal bacon sandwich, we don't get peameal here. What do you mean about South Market? Where is that?

              And if you had to choose, which is better, Kensington or St. Lawrence market?

              1. re: moh

                The south market is the south building of St. Lawrence Market. It's actually very close to JK Wine Bar. Note it's closed on Sundays. Lots of butcher shops, cheese, gourmet dry goods, peameal sandwiches etc..

                Kensington is between College and Dundas Street, just west of Spadina,(where Chinatown is.) There are many Latin American shops for things like Empanadas etc..

                Hopefully you will be able to make it to both, given that they are near other places you want to try.

                Have a great trip!

                St. Lawrence Market
                92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

                KENSmarket - Kensington Market Community
                406 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                1. re: moh

                  Moh, if you want an even better sandwich (in my very humble opinion, of course!) while in St. Lawrence Market, get a bun at one of the bakeries, and go to the meat shop that advertises "caramelized, or maple, or something sweet" - can't remember back bacon and build your own sandwich. It's not exactly peameal bacon, but it's sooo good! And one of our "market tricks".

                  Judging by your itinerary, you'll have lots of fun! Bon appétit! :)

                2. re: mlukan

                  I disagree about Gandhi for roti. I am assuming you are looking for Carribbean style roti - Gandhi is not that. I would suggest Ali's on Queen West in Parkdale. Good area to start exploring the west end from, btw. I'd get the duck dalphouri style (the duck comes with bone so it's easier to eat it with the loose roti rather than wrapped. the loose roti does not have the chickpea 'rub').

                  1. re: Kasia

                    If you are looking for Caribbean style roti don't go to Ghandi. I would have to agree with Kasia on the Ali's as a recommendation, so good. But if you want something that is Toronto original and still an amazing roti, go to Ghandi. Id say go to both.

                    1. re: mlukan

                      I may very well go to both! I may also need to install that second stomach too.

                      1. re: moh

                        still voting for the second stomach (although dude you're getting dangerously close to needing a third), so if you pick one, i'd say definitely ali's...everyone's always talking about ghandi but i don't get it. ali's rocks and i know you mentioned oxtail but if you need a break from your peameal and assorted meat sundries try the spinach and pumpkin roti from ali - it's my standby i love it (and they make great ice cream in tiny little takout servings that shouldn't be missed - i go for soursop) Queen W and Landsdown-ish. p.s as for a rec further down...if you go to T&T, skip J-town it's far from downtown and not as great as the name makes it sound.

                    2. re: Kasia

                      Definitely do Island Foods. Best roti in TO. I like the West Indian style.

                      And at Carousel Bakery in SLM, get the breakfast on a bun. Best of all worlds b/c is combines the peameal with egg and cheese.

                  2. I have to say it - I don't get the enthusiasm on these boards for Mata Hari so I wouldn't make a special trip there. I find their food just meh, nothing like the incredible Malaysian I ate in Ottawa (yes, Ottawa!). But you'd be close to Kensington Market.

                    The St. Lawrence Market has two buildings, the north and south market on each side of Front St, The North market is only open on Saturdays and is more of a farmer's market. The South Market is open Tues - Sat. The St. Lawrence Market is more like the Atwater Market and Kensington Market is difficult to desccribe - it's not a market but a neighbourhood bordered by Spadina, College, Dundas and ?Augusta, with stores of all ethnicities, funky little coffee shops, organic produce, cheese shops...it's like St. Denis south of Sherbrooke mated with St. Laurent between Prince Arthur and Ave des Pins circa 1992. I'm not doing it justice.

                    I'd go to Terroni for pizza over Columbo, the crust at Columbo reminds me of wonder bread and I haven't been blown away by the calzones.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: hoagy294

                      Hi hoagy,

                      which malaysian in ottawa are you referring to? I will be in the area and would love to have a great laksa or char kway teow!

                      1. re: hungryann

                        In case he doesn't answer... I'm assuming he's referring to Chahaya Malaysia, which is the only Malaysian in Ottawa of which I'm aware. It's gotten consistently good reviews to my knowledge, although I personally haven't eaten there myself due to their use of MSG.

                        1. re: vorpal

                          Thanks. I googled and that's the only one I found but wanted to make sure. Come to think of it, there was another one called Singapore restaurant that billed itself more as a singaporean place (duh?) but the food is pretty similar. Any info about this place?

                    2. Food at Shanghai Bund is much better than Hi Shanghai, their soup dumpling is better than Hi Shanghai. Shanghai Bund and Ala Kitchen are some of the best shanghai food you can find in GTA (north of GTA).

                      You probably know, but just in case, Omei is Cantonese seafood and Szechuan Legend/Hot Spict Spicy is Szechuan cuisine, both are good at it's own type of cuisine. I only point this out because some people is getting confused here.

                      Lai Wah Heen has better environment compare to the low ceiling no window room at Lai Toi Heen (unless you get the tables in the very front section), their dim sum list and quality are very familiar, high quality in GTA ! LWH is more like a place for dim sum.

                      Ramen, I think you are talking about Kenzo which is on Yonge, south of Steeles, some of the best in GTA.

                      I personally think the food at JKWB is good, but not great and certainly over-salted. Environment is good that you can watch the food being prepared, very lively I would say.

                      1. 11. Harlem-I had dinner at harlem tonight and can report back that the fried chicken there is juicy, well seasoned, crispy and fantastic! Very nicely done, a big order with about 4 pieces. It is a cozy, welcoming restaurant in the downtown core.

                        1. moh, so you are finally making it over here!

                          I'd like to also second the opinion that Montreal food is not over-rated. It's just different
                          in a good way, being pretty much the most "Euro" city in all of North America.

                          Since you already have quite an itenerary already, I'm trying to add in what might be of value to you. I'd say compared to Montreal, Toronto definitely fares much better for
                          Chinese, Shanghainese, Cantonese and Japanese, but of course you know that already.

                          - From my grapevines and my own limited experience, dim sum @ Casa Imperial is
                          supposed to be comparable to some of the better restaurants in Hong Kong, which is
                          to say it is quite good. Beware of long waits even during the week, though.

                          - Second the LCBO at Summerhill for an eye-opener of what is probably the most
                          fancy collection of alcohol in Toronto, all under one roof. You might want to stock
                          up on their Japanese imports while there too.

                          - Second Terroni's, and make sure you go to the one on Queen.

                          - St. Lawrence Market is closed on Sunday AND Monday, the last I checked.
                          I recommend the Italian sandwich store downstairs, where they serve you gigantic
                          piping-hot veal/chicken sandwiches.

                          - J-Town on Steeles just east of the 404. They got their own bakery, snack bar, fish monger (with freshly-pickled fish), grocery etc., and whatever they stock/make is more authentically Japanese than what you'd find at T&T or H-Mart (which is Korean). While you probably won't eat there, you might want to stock up on your way back.

                          - the Greek cafes on the Danforth, for a cup of thick, strong coffee and a slice of cheese pastry. There should be more info elsewhere on this board.

                          Hope you have a great time here!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tarteaucitron

                            "Hope you have a great time here"

                            With great tips like yours and all these other posters, how can I not?

                            Thanks for the warning about St. Lawrence market being closed on Monday too. It is very possible we would have tried to go on Monday when we were leaving town.

                            Also, thanks for the info on J-town! I am in search of a specific type of mirin to try to improve my sushi rice, so I shall certainly take a look here.

                            1. re: tarteaucitron

                              You may also consider the new Casa Victoria for dim sum, which is the sister restaurant of Casa Imperial. It is a much beautiful restaurant. However, I found the dim sum quality not very consistent in these 2 restaurants. Still not quite up there with the high end dim sum in HK, but on a good day, it is pretty good !

                            2. The LCBO store at Summerhill is great as others have said, but note that all LCBOs will be closed Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Not sure about Monday.

                              1. +

                                St. Lawrence Market
                                92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

                                1. moh, you have a great itinerary -- kudos to you for doing your homework! And I'll chime in with the others in saying that Montreal is most definitely not overrated for food and that it's not worth comparing the two cities on the food spectrum because they really are different beasts. Both cities have their strong points and with an itinerary like yours, I'm sure you'll have some great eating experiences.

                                  Re: roti, I would go for both the Caribbean style you'll find at Island Foods or Ali's and the East Indian style you'll find at Gandhi. Both are delicious and quite different from each other.

                                  I don't really "get" the Hakka love. I've tried it twice and found the dishes to be hot but not flavourful. I was really disappointed.

                                  I don't know if you're aware that the St. Lawrence Market and Kensington Market are two very different experiences. The SLM consists of two very large buildings. The South building is open Tue - Fri and is filled with wonderful permanent shops and stalls. The North building is only open on Saturdays and hosts the farmer's market. So Saturdays are total zoos at the SLM, but it's also the best day to go because of the farmer's market. If you go early (before 9am), the crowds are very manageable.

                                  Kensington Market is actually a neighbourhood. It's got a very funky, boho vibe and has a mind-boggling variety of little family-run shops. It's great to spend a nice afternoon wandering and popping into the little stores for cheap eats. There are a few threads on the best bets there. Let us know if you want recs.

                                  And agree with the above poster that the Summerhill LCBO is the best spot to go to browse fine wines. It's in an old restored building which is really beautiful, too.

                                  Lai Toh Heen and Lai Wah Heen are sister restaurants. Lai Wah Heen is downtown, so if you have a day downtown, that would be your stop. Lai Toh Heen is midtown/uptown and is not too far from Hollywood Gelato, so that could be a good combination!

                                  Good luck, have fun and please report back on your experiences (good and bad)!

                                  1. just a couple thoughts..... all in random order of course.

                                    if i recall correctly, solo sushi ya is actually on or very near yonge south of bloor and i haven't had ramen there yet but inoodle is perfectly respectable although i have some slight doubts that they make their own ramen. they're also korean run so i find the experience is a bit skewed. if they ask you about spiciness, choose the lowest one and see if you can get their spice additive on the side.

                                    the fish place or whatever is quite nice. they have an open fridge area where you can see the fillets and pick what you want with prices varying depending on the day and the fish. it's pretty good but i suggest a really hearty flavourful fish to overcome the dressing they put on the sandwich. if you want another style, try cajun corner for the catfish po'boy. i would suggest that you get them to cut down on the bread though... it's a gigantic crusty roll and can be a little too hard and chewy and gigantic for the fish... otherwise delish. perhaps not a bad spot to get fried chicken either, i think it's $5 for 3 pieces? great gumbo.

                                    for wine, while the summerhill location is gigantic and can be loads of fun, the lcbo by the waterfront/queens quay area has a great tasting bar with a really wide selection of some premium pours. it might be a good way to get a taste if you're skeptical and just a bit of fun to do anyway.

                                    i'd say skip yeuh tung for hakka... if that's what hakka is then is bland saucy nothing.

                                    roti, as others have pointed out... two entirely different kettle of fish. near ali's is roti lady and i love her goat roti... mostly for the perfectly spiced, tender amazing goat. get some doubles from island food while you're at it, do not get the doubles at roti lady.

                                    T&T downtown does not compare to T&T up north... it's very very canadianized downtown and really just does not have the variety and choice that any of the GTA locations has. if you're there late (10-11pm) they have a fun reduced price hour or two where they sell off the leftovers of the days dimsum, deli, etc. great for midnight snacking.

                                    have a great time!

                                    1. Saw the rec for Mustacios at the SLM. It is hit and miss, mostly miss I think. If you want one of the best Italian veal sandwiches in the city, go to the original California sandwiches on Claremont:


                                      They make-em sweet, medium or hot. The chicken cutlet is very good too. Have them with a brio.

                                      You could also try Vinnies Pannini, but it's a bit further from downtown

                                      As to the peameal, why not buy a chunk at the SLM to take home. You can make one just as good, ususally better as you completely control what else goes on it.

                                      Re Hakka, if you wanted to trek to west Mississauga, you could try Ming Room. Usually highly rated by all. Some say its the best in the GTA.


                                      Re the Summerhill LCBO. The staff are always very helpful, and there will probably be someone there who really knows their wine, so get some help.

                                      Let me push a bit of Niagara product. Try some reisling. Though different from Germany and Alsace, I am a big fan as are many others. Some of the oaked Chards are also very good-try to find a Lailey vineyard. Stratus is simply genius in everything they make. If you like cider, try some Waupoos. Different from Quebec and English cider. Also, don't overlook the ice wine, even if it is overpriced. Get a recommendation if you are going top drop a bundle.

                                      BTW. love the food in Montreal, especially the delis and fromageries. Gotta go to Au Pied sometime soon too.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: Scary Bill

                                        Couldn't agree more on the comment on Mustacious at SLM. I find if very pedestrian. Once was enough for me.

                                        Scary, got any Niagara riesling maker suggestions?

                                        Au Pied is bittersweet if you're from Toronto. Sweet when you're there and enjoying the bounty, bitter when you realize you pay $20 for a sliver of foie gras as part of an appetizer in Toronto.

                                        1. re: grandgourmand

                                          Mustacious is very bland. Again, here are the three best veals in TO:

                                          California (the peppers weren't hot enough last time)
                                          San Francesco

                                          1. re: grandgourmand

                                            I first got excited about Niagara riesling many moons ago at Henry of Pelham. (Henry was also the first to make me see the potential for Baco Noir).
                                            The truth is, the Niagara terroir is ideally suited to the riesling grape, as evidenced by the fact that almost every producer, even new ones, is making a very good riesling with many making a range of dry, off dry, late harvest and/or icewine riesling.

                                            Look at these ratings:


                                            If I were to be asked about my favourite I would have to say Vinelend Estates, only because they seem to be consistently good year after year.

                                            But I wouldn't hesitate to buy from any producer.

                                          2. re: Scary Bill

                                            how much of what you suggest is actually available at the lcbo? i've never seen stratus.

                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                              Princess, Stratus at the LCBO is rare, admittedly. They do not produce enough for general listing or in most cases for Vintages releases as well.

                                              That said they have had some reds and some icewines in Vintages releases in the past.

                                              I get their email newsletter and the most recent one indicated a March release for the red and the white. I cannot recall if it indicated if any would be at Vintages.

                                              I will confess too that I have one bottle of white, resting for another 18 months or so, but that one was bought at the winery-a visit I highly recomment, the architecture is as compelling as the wine.

                                              I mentioned Stratus to the Montreal visitor as I thought that if any store had some, the Flagship Summerhill store should. If not, they would gladly look up a store that would.

                                              1. re: Scary Bill

                                                Actually, you can check that online yourself at http://www.lcbo.com/products/index.shtml. Just type "Stratus" into the "product name or item #" window and whatever is available in the LCBO in general will pop up. From there, click on your selection and use the scroll down locator to see where in Central Toronto your wine is stocked. After a quick scan, I don't see Status Riesling...but there is Stratus' 2006 Riesling icewine at the Summerhill location. If you do visit the Summerhill LCBO (which is housed in a converted train station), don't miss the tasting tower. When I was there a couple of days back there were two Riesling ice wines for sampling... It's a maximum of two samples per person and ice wines cost more than the "normal" wines, but it's worth it.

                                                Have a great time...and it would be wonderful if you posted your impressions!

                                                1. re: morrigan

                                                  (Having been there today, one of the two Riesling Ice Wines in the tasting tower is the Status 2006.)

                                              2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                The Vineland Estates riesling is always available at the LCBO. It's a personal fave of mine. Generally I find the LCBO supply of Canadian wines to be (ironically) very limited.

                                                Shipping costs from Ontario wineries tend to be quite reasonable. Heck, I recall Malivoire bringing a case with nooo charge since they were in the neighbourhood anyway. Vineland Estates were also reasonable and reliable.

                                                The Stratus website says this: "Delivery rates range between $15 and $20 for central locations and up to $25 for more remote areas. The precise cost of delivery will be confirmed upon receipt of your order."

                                                I suggest you make the most of it by buying a mixed case of your favourites.

                                            2. if you're thinking about visiting casa imperial/T&T north/Pacific mall area, u might as well do it all in one shot as they are located within minutes of each other. since this is my 'hood, i suggest u take a drive between warden/steeles and midland/steeles.

                                              warden/steeles (NW corner)
                                              T&T, Kelsey's, Boston Pizza, Wendy's, japanese ramen place, vietnamese noodles place, all u can eat hot pot, bubble tea cafe
                                              (beside the T&T plaza)
                                              tiny mall called Metro Square, cantonese, mandarin, vietnamese, asian legend, etc
                                              (SE corner)
                                              casa imperial
                                              (south of the intersection)
                                              small strip mall with another chinese supermarket and several cantonese restaurants, chinese bakeries (Sam Woo bbq/seafood, great viet place called Pho 88)

                                              kennedy/steeles to midland/steeles
                                              Pacific Mall, Market Village, Splendid China (those are the malls, there are a bunch of strip malls between the intersections mentioned above)
                                              - u got vietnamese, korean (korean bbq/grill), japanese (a bunch of all u can eat sushi buffets, i don't suggest them though), thai, cantonese, mandarin, mongolian grill, vegetarian (chinese vegetarian food made from gluten etc), lotsa bubble tea places (huge one called Destiny's beside the No Frills), lotsa chinese bakeries, along with some western chains (tim horton's, wendy's etc).

                                              as someone else posted, i can almost guarantee that the chinese places will be open on that weekend/holidays. tons of things to eat/see, all in one area. i guarantee a wonderful cultural/eating/shopping experience! (especially if you're not of asian heritage). enjoy!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: blitz

                                                By all means, check out the T&T at Warden/Steeles (especially the snack section which is basically half of the store), but IMO most of the eateries in this strip are mediocre with exception to Pho Viet (clean! friendly! fresh flavours).

                                                Pacific Mall is always fun to wander through, if not for the wares, then for the people-watching. Splendid China is a scaled-down and quieter version, and not worth it to visit unless you have a specific shop/resto in mind. J-town is very unspectacular, and I'd only suggest if you were in search of specific items (like the yummy cakes at Nakamura Bakery).

                                                Further west on Steeles and Don Mills is (chainish) Congee Queen, which always serves up good congee and snacks like XO turnip cakes. Very quick turnover -- usually less than 5min to get your first dish. Maybe not really special, but a good solid stand-by.

                                                Casa Imperial provides a very unique dim sum experience and provides a lot of twists on dishes (at a price!). I also agree with a previous comment about the superiority of Shanghai Bund's soup-filled dumplings to those at Hi Shanghai.

                                                Also second the Fish Shop rec! Made-to-order grilled sandwiches with a delicious sauce.

                                                If you like coffee, you need to check out Manic Coffee (426 College St) just down the street from the Fish Shop.

                                                1. re: ShanaGirl

                                                  Seconding Manic for coffee as a must -- yes, they do have a Synesso like Veritas in Montreal, but they have a Clover which Montreal doesn't have quite yet, I believe. Coffee from a Clover is unbelievable.

                                              2. Folks, I can't tell you how thrilled I've been with the posts here! I am adding an extra day to my itinerary so I can fit in the extra suggestions and not explode from overeating. Diet will just have to wait until after I get back to Montreal.

                                                I am not arriving until Tuesday, so feel free to keep the comments/suggestions coming! I will certainly report back. Thanks again!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: moh

                                                  COnsider it the positive version of Toronto vs. Montreal. And for the record: Go Sens!!

                                                  1. re: grandgourmand

                                                    Bite your tongue. Habs all the way!

                                                2. To the extent that hakka has been sold to me as some blend of Indian and Chinese, I've found the restaurants, at least in the Airport neighbourhood, to be pretty dull. With limited time in Toronto, I'd be tempted to spend time in Koreatown (Bloor West of Bathurst, a very bustling and exciting area in general) instead of pursuing hakka or late-night Swatow. Owl of Minerva on Bloor is open very late and could be an interesting subsitute for Swatow on your list, for example. There should be some good recent searchable threads on Korean restaurants.

                                                  As others have suggested, Kensington Market is a fine way to spend some time - the Chinese bun shops and exotic fruit stands a little further south on Spadina are fun too.

                                                  1. There's lots of wisdom in these lines. A couple of snippets more:

                                                    Ontario wines: If you're going to do JKG, their list is well-chosen Ontario wines, including some PEC as well as Niagara.

                                                    Cheese: Not that you'd need to buy any here to take back to Montreal, but if you are looking for some, Alex Farm in St. Lawrence is the state of the art in Toronto

                                                    St. Lawrence: The north building is best Saturday morning, and starts winding down around the noon hour. That is where you get the game, local farmers, and some prepared foods. The south market is open most days except Sunday.

                                                    Kensington: Great street food available. Many of the South American grocery places will make fresh tacos, pupusas, and churros at little stands at the back. The most popular is probably Perola's for tacos. El Gordo empanadas are also fantastic, with many flavours.


                                                    1. Hey, moh! Welcome to The Big Smoke! A few of comments to add here, without being redundant...
                                                      1) Considering that you'll be here over the Easter weekend, you might want to reserve your Asian and Chinatown choices for that weekend, as other things will be very hit and miss, but those options will be open.
                                                      2) On Good Friday, College St from (approximately) Palmerston west to Crawford will be closed for the Good Friday procession, begins around 2pm (or is it 3pm?). It's actually pretty interesting, though not from a foodie perspective. It also causes traffic problems beyond its immediate vicinity.
                                                      3) Not on your list, and something I which I think is missing from Montreal, is Ethiopian. My particular fave is Dukem, 950 Danforth Ave. I haven't been to Addis Ababa on Queen W, but it gets a lot of good response on the boards.
                                                      4) It looks like it's not the sort of thing that you're trying to sniff out, but I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Splendido. It is pricey, though, but I prefer it to Susur. http://www.splendido.ca/ If you're going to do one high-end place, that's the one.
                                                      5) Do try to fit in something Korean.
                                                      6) For a sandwich at SLM, my vote is for the chicken sandwich at Churrasco of St Lawrence (get extra sauce).
                                                      7) Definitely fit in JK Wine Bar.
                                                      Happy chowing!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                        Hungry Pangolin, thanks for the post! I didn't include Korean on my initial list because I am Korean, and I will certainly be hitting a few of my fave spots and some places some friends will suggest! I wanted the goods on places I didn't know. Korean in TO is a given!!!

                                                        And thanks for the Ethiopian suggestion. It shall be added to the list. Tu es correct, il n'y a pas de bonne Ethiopian dans Montreal.... I hope they have a good yebeg watt I think they call it. Well, anything in berbere sauce will be fine. May have to add even another day to the trip....

                                                      2. 2) For Chinese I'd also consider Asian Legends on Yonge north of Sheppard. It's one of my favourites (given that I don't get out to Pacific Mall too much--and when I have, I find the English translations on the menus... less than completely accurate which can be frustrating).

                                                        7) I have been to Lin Garden recently and while I liked it, I didn't find the reputed Indian/Chinese mix that well done. They use some impressive green chillies to heat things up with I enjoyed but otherwise, not really seeing how this was a mix of the two cuisines but still better than other places that say they do the I/C mix but really they just have I & C dishes on their menu--no mix. I have a downtown bias since I'm there a lot but I do think you can get a very nice curried shrimp that does the best of Chinese and Indian at Spadina Gardens on Dundas. It's a bit oily but very tasty. Now THAT is combining the I & C!