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Mar 12, 2008 03:25 PM

Convert this Montreal foodie: Your advice please!

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 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'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?