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Most underrated food

I am just looking for some of the underrated foods in Toronto. I am not a screamish person, so internal organs are fine.

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  1. I don't think I'm quite up to seeking out the eminently-yucky but obviously-droll suggestions of MindGrinder (you WERE kidding, weren't you?), but I'd sure like to hear of any restos with chicken livers as a main dish on their menus. There used to be a joint, now out of action, on north Avenue Road that had it, but not for long The staff told me no one - but me - would order it, so they took it off the menu. Chicken livers: when done right, are mighty delicious - but clearly underrated. So where in Toronto can I find them now?

    12 Replies
      1. re: redearth

        In a pate, indeed, and tasty it is - as an appetizer. But as a main dish, whole chicken livers, untransformed by a food processor: where, pray tell, might I find such on a Toronto restaurant menu?

        Incidentally, whatever became of MindGrinder's suggestions, to which I originally alluded to and responded, on this thread? It seemed like his/her post was little more than an innocent bit of droll tomfoolery. But that post has disappeared, abruptly jerked from the topic at hand. Regrettable. Perhaps MindGrinder, seemingly familiar with underrated - and hitherto-unknown - parts of animals, knows where I might find chicken livers (aside from in a pate). I'll take his/her or anyone else's tips on which resto menu I might find the treasure I seek..

        1. re: juno

          Juno, they're offered as an appetizer on Tabule's menu. I think you might also have luck at some Jewish joints, such as United Bakers Dairy Restaurant in Lawrence Plaza (Bathurst and Lawrence) or even the Centre Street Deli up near the Promenade. I'd venture to say that chicken livers strikes me as more home cooked fare, but then again, my SO had a killer pita sandwich in Morocco many years ago that was filled with chicken livers and kidneys (not sure from what beast) with olives that he'd love to encounter again somewhere in Toronto.

          1. re: 1sweetpea

            Isn't United Bakery a dairy (ie vegetarian) restaurant?

            1. re: Dimbulb

              Yup-no meat at United. But they have fish (lox and such).


          2. re: juno

            Le Select Bistro on Wellington has calf livers as a main course (I had it a couple of weeks ago and if you're a fan of liver it's pretty good).

            1. re: juno

              I don't remember if Southern Accent is still around but they had an amazing dish of blackened chicken livers...they were truly fabulous!

              1. re: pearlD

                Totally agree. We order them as an app every time we go to Southern Accent and they've never let us down.

          3. re: juno

            Le Select has calf livers, although not chicken ones.

            1. re: juno

              Southern Accent has blackened chicken livers on their apps menu. Deeelish! I sometimes have and order of piquant shrimp and 2 orders of livers and call it a night.

              1. re: juno

                I had some awesome chicken livers at Ouzeri a few years ago. They were an appetizer item, but I think dozen chickens died for that appetizer. I think they were cooked with white wine and bell peppers... delicious. I've also enjoyed the chicken liver app at Southern Accent, but also a few years ago.

                1. re: juno

                  You can get them sauteed with loads of garlic and lemon juice Pan. Its an app, but generous.

                  Pan on the Danforth
                  516 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P6, CA

                2. Korean Soon Tofu and Pork Bone Soup. West Indian Doubles. Chinese egg tarts. Street meat. The vege lasagna from the East European deli in the basement of the St. Lawrence market.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: theel

                    where is the best place for pork bone soup?

                    1. re: Coffee and Choco

                      Ka Chi in Little Korea on Bloor...they also have a location on St. Andrew between Chinatown and Kensington Market.

                      1. re: childofthestorm

                        OMG! No way. Go to Owl of Minerva on Yonge st. close to yonge and finch. The one in downtown isn't good as before after the owner has changed in ~2005.
                        Ka Chi?! The food in this place is like MSG Soups.

                        Owl of Minerva(Btw, they open for 24hrs)
                        5324 Yonge Street, (416) 221-7275

                      2. re: Coffee and Choco

                        Wow Korean in mississauga by dundas somewhere.... the soup is awesomely cabbage-y and well spiked and the meat is ample and very very tender on the bones.

                        1. re: Coffee and Choco

                          we should start a pork bone thread. mmmm.

                        2. re: theel

                          +1 West Indian Doubles. :) mmm ...

                        3. More an ingredient but OXTAIL
                          i looooove oxtail in all forms
                          what a wonderful meat!

                          My coworkers can't stomach the thought but i grew up on korean oxtail soup and braised/stewed soy sauce oxtail. Yum.

                          Carribean style and western red wine braised oxtail is also awesome.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                            Let's solve this chicken liver problem before we move on to oxtail and other unmentionable animal parts. Chicken livers as a main dish: where? Agreed, it's mainly a home-cooked dish, as 1sweetpea has mentioned. I've tasted Southern Accent's chicken liver appetizer, and damn good it was. But when I enquired if it might make a main dish, I was informed that chickens have but one liver and there's not enough to go around for a main. I tend not to believe that evasive answer. Mr. julesrules obviously went to Ouzeri when it was good, and enjoyed their chicken liver appetizer, but, alas, it WAS an appetizer, and I want a main dish. Cat123 mentions calves liver at Le Select - good, I had it once, though I think Pastis Express does it better - but that's not chicken liver. If Centre Street Deli has chicken livers on its menu, it escaped me. I'm intrigued by the chicken liver and kidney pita mentioned above, but that was Morocco, which is rather far to go. I'm reduced to getting my chicken livers at Whitehouse Meats in the St. Lawrence Market, when they have them, which isn't often. So the question remains: which resto in Toronto has chicken livers as a main dish? Surely the combined expertise of Chowhound can come up with an answer.

                            Then we can move on to oxtail and other underrated foods.

                            1. re: juno

                              Honestly the quantity of chicken livers we received at Ouzeri was more than enough for a main (but no sides of course). Two liver lovers split it, were more than sated, and were struggling with our mains after. But I figured the kitchen must buy whole chickens and had ended up with a surfeit of which we were the lucky recipients. But yeah, as to the decline at Ouzeri, this was 3.5 years ago, which I know because I was 9 months pregnant at the time.... so don't call me mister ;)

                              1. re: juno

                                Jacque's on Cumberland had a chicken liver omelet on the menu about a year ago. My friend loved it. But I don't know if it was a special or a regular menu item.

                              2. re: CoffeeAddict416

                                I got my taste of nice homemade Caribbean food when I was seeing someone who's family was from Jamaica. I recently satisfied my craving for oxtail at a nearby little take-out joint in Scarborough. Here's a pic of the food:
                                Oxtail: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                $7. Not bad. Have you located a great place to get your fix?

                              3. Horse is on the menu at Czehoski (or at least it used to be).

                                Kishka at Pancer's deli on Bathurst (cow intestines stuffed with breadcrumbs)

                                my two cents...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                  Haven't seen horse there since the management change last year (was regularly available at Coca rather than Czehoski).

                                  1. re: estufarian

                                    If you're looking for horse meat, I believe La Palette in Kensington Market is known for serving it. Black Hoof apparently has it on the menu as well sometimes (but not when I visited).

                                2. At 80 Ellesmere (NW corner of Ellesmere and Pharmacy) there is a Middle-Eastern shop where you can have chicken testicle skewers. Sorry I cannot remember the name, but it is next to the Hakka restaurant China Garden. They`re really quite good. They also sell sheep`s head in the butcher`s section, but I haven`t yet had the b***s to try it it.

                                  There was a fire in the strip mall recently and I am not sure if it has re-opened yet.

                                  Someone probably knows where haggis or andouilette is on the menu. I quite like andouilette, although my dining partner in France described it like trying to eat a condon filled with springs.

                                  Meekha used to do a brain curry. Only had it once!

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                    I can see I'm out of luck on the chicken liver front. It seems no resto serves them as a main - at least according to my otherwise-knowledgable confreres here on Chowhound. Which makes me nostalgic for the recently-deceased Coleman's Deli on Bathurst Street near Lawrence Ave., which when it existed was somewhat dreary and erratic, but at least chicken livers were on the menu - though badly done the last few years before its demise. I may have to transfer my affections to the chicken testicle skewers mentioned above by Paulustrious. But surely, good people, a chicken with testicles also has a liver, and that liver has to go SOMEWHERE. But where? Without an answer, I am bereft.

                                      1. re: HarryLloyd

                                        To me, it would certainly be a sufficient quantity (ed:fixed), though one wouldn't dub it a main. Though I'm sure our friend juno has encountered this either here or at one of its brethren (Halleluia and the like).

                                      2. re: juno

                                        Whoops - heaven knows where my head was when I wrote that. I meant lamb's testicles. You can also buy raw bulls ones to take home. If you want to know how to prep them then just ask.

                                        1. re: Paulustrious

                                          Yup the lamb's version crops up at various places - even had them at Splendido this month!. Fat Cat and Czehoski both (but not recently). very similar to sweetbreads in both flavour and texture.

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            Just like liver they must not be over-cooked. I serve them to guests who say 'I eat anything' - but I tend to make it an optional course. Same goes for cerviche etc.

                                          2. re: Paulustrious

                                            The original poster mentioned that internal organs are fine, but he didn't mention "external" ones!

                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                              I remember going to Khorak with a friend and seeing lamb's testicles on display in the butcher area. I didn't realize it was so popular. Guess I've gotta try them now.

                                              1. re: BokChoi

                                                That supermarket / bbq place I mentioned above has now re-opened. Who's going to get the ball rolling?http://www.chow.com/images/button-pos...

                                            2. re: juno

                                              I've been craving something I had at Grano years ago (it's not on their menu now) - Italian farfalle pasta with chicken livers. I think that would satisfy your craving for them as a main course - does anyone know of an Italian place in town that makes this dish? (I'm not sure, but I believe it is a traditional Italian pasta dish)

                                              1. re: FresserGuy

                                                If you can't find it at a restaurant, there are many recipes for chicken liver and pasta on the net. Seach for "fegatini" There's a recipe on page 91 of this book: http://books.google.com/books?id=yLZG...

                                              2. re: juno

                                                You can get it as a main at Cafe Polonez (not so good) or quite a few on top of a schnitzel at Hungary Thai in Kensington (good!)

                                                1. re: juno

                                                  Give duck livers a try. Any chinese bbq joint.

                                                  1. re: juno

                                                    Nando's Chicken has chicken livers on their menu and the order comes
                                                    with a Portuguese bun. You can order it as mild, medium, hot or extra hot.

                                                    1. re: goaneat

                                                      Stop the presses! Chicken livers at a place called Nando's, you say? A peek at its website suggests its probably a sandwich of sorts rather than the main dish I crave, but worth investigation just the same. I'll be there, out on Eglinton Ave. east of Laird - where I rarely venture - within the week, to inspect, assess, warily order and digest. My thanks to goaneat.

                                                      Aside to others who've helpfully suggested the Russian/Israeli/ Middle Eastern/Mediterranean joints up and down Bathurst Street as possible purveyors of chicken livers. No, alas. Not even Me Va Me answers the bell.

                                                      I regret I'll have to take a pass on any animal's testicles, no matter how intriguingly presented. Though the Mannish Water soup, a Jamaican specialty offered up by pearlID, sounds somewhat interesting. If I should indulge, however, I just couldn't bring myself to look any goat in the eyes forever after.

                                                      1. re: juno

                                                        juno...particularly when you get to choose the 'live' one for the celebration before the actual cooking!! Not nice at all!!

                                                      2. re: goaneat

                                                        Nando's is underrated. Not only for livers - which, I mean, where else can you get livers in a fast food place..? The fact that it's made right on the spot when you order, and grilled; that's better than a million other fast food chicken places. I think its better than Swiss Chalet. I love their chicken wings. I make my own meals, 'coz theirs is too big. So I would get 4 wings, garlic bread or coleslaw, or soething to that effect... and it's just perfect. LOVE their sauce as well.

                                                      3. re: juno

                                                        Why not order two apps and a salad or side of something and call it a night?

                                                    2. 1. More testicles (lamb) and cow's heart available at Banu.

                                                      2. Mapuku on McCaul serves natto ("stinky beans"), a Japanese fermented bean dish that is definitely an acquired taste. (ww.manpuku.ca)

                                                      3. Not in the gross out category, the black rum cake available at Patty King bakery in Kensington is a semi hard-to-find treat and really delicious.

                                                      4. Also not-gross, mangosteens are not widely available in North America but Torontonians have very easy access (especially in Chinatown) - worth seeking out!

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Rabbit

                                                        Looking to try something that is basically a celebration dish in Jamaica??
                                                        "Mannish Water"....it's actually very good....
                                                        It's a soup made from Goat Testicles and trust me it is tasty...it's a broth based soup and it's a bit spicy (not like hot and sour ) Local lore says it puts 'lead' in de pencil'....yah and they also will eat the innards from Conch for the same reason..too gross for me!

                                                        1. re: pearlD

                                                          Hey Pearl, Mannish Water is actually boiled out goat head. Testies (bull) are used in in Cow Cod Soup.

                                                          My grandfather keeps telling us stories how he used to drink this back in Jamaica. I personally think he's full of stuff that comes from between the two hind legs.

                                                          Either way, it's gross.

                                                          1. re: goodcookiedrift

                                                            Someone was obviously pulling my er?? leg!!!

                                                            1. re: pearlD

                                                              That or they were just completely confounded at what lengths people will go to eat equally horrendous dishes just to get...well...horny. Goat brain or bulls balls. Take your choice.

                                                          2. re: pearlD

                                                            You can get your goat's head at Nawzar Meat Market at 80 Ellesmere. They are right by the lamb's testicles. Do tell us how it goes.

                                                        2. Most underrated, I'd say Spanish food. French and Italian get all the press, but Spanish food / wine is just as good if not better in some cases. I'm yet to have a great Spanish meal in town yet (although I'm yet to try Torito) Stop at Scheffler's in St. Lawrence Market, or head up to Pimenton on Mt. Pleasant and pick up some Chorizo, Old Manchego cheese, serrano ham, olives and some Ines Rosales tortas de aceite to go with a bottle of Rene Barbier white from Penedes from the LCBO. So yummy!

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: currycue

                                                            FYI , I went to Torito the other night and was not impressed with the food. I heard it was so good.......it wasn't. Not horrible. Just ok.

                                                            1. re: froglegs

                                                              I'm sorry your experience of the food at Torito was not great. Every time I've been, the food has been excellent.

                                                            2. re: currycue

                                                              Try Pimenton's stuffed olives. Nice flavours. And the prepared foods are pretty decent as well.

                                                            3. Just to give veggies some love, I have to mention cardoon. I crave this hard-to-find vegetable and wish it was a regular item in grocery stores. I have never seen it on a menu, has anyone else?

                                                              7 Replies
                                                                1. re: SNACKeR

                                                                  Cardoons can be found in grocery stores that specialize in Italian goods and produce, particularly in most of the fruit and veg stores on St Clair West in and around Dufferin. Diana’s Grocery will most likely have them, when in season. You are likely to find cardoons in December in areas with large Italian populations, because cardoons are a traditional part of Christmas dinner, and they are in season in the fall and winter. Whether or not they are still available, I don't know.

                                                                  1299 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6E, CA

                                                                  1. re: redearth

                                                                    i am curious.... but how large are these things? tastiness factor?

                                                                    i've been cooking out of the babbo book recently and there is frequent mention of cardoons... some the length of 5ft! i would love to see a vegetable as tall as me.

                                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                      I've had them in Europe before (Spain and Italy), but never here. They're pretty good, and made in a number of different ways. I'm not sure how big they grow, since I've never went out and bought them or anything...

                                                                      1. re: tjr

                                                                        ah ha... i will have to earmark december and italian grocers then. i like an endorsement of vegetables.

                                                                      2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                        The ones I have bought are about the size of celery (maybe a bit bigger), and have a taste reminiscent of artichokes. They make a great soup.

                                                                    2. re: SNACKeR

                                                                      Have never seen it on a menu.

                                                                      I did see some at Highland Farms the other day. But it was in poor shape.

                                                                    3. Now I am not well versed on the restaurant scene but right or wrong I do tend to gauge a restaurant by how well the do the organ meats. If the liver or sweetbreads are good - chances are everything else on the menu is. Doesn't make me real popular with my fellow diners but I tend to order the organ meats when I can - yum Dim Sum is another avenue to find underrated foods - chicken feet and tripe are two of my favorites done right in most chinese restaurants.

                                                                      1. Are you talking about chicken liver ragu, like with bell peppers, onions and a rich sauce? To my knowledge Centre Deli serves chicken liver pâté, which is not the same.