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Chowtrip to TO: Carousel, Mothers Dumplings, Bocce, Matahari Grill, Tiny Toms,Takebashi

I had the good fortune to be back in my hometown that I left 30 years ago. The back bacon on a bun at Carousel Bakery (St Lawrence Market) was a disappointment. Nice soft roll but the bacon while generous in amount was kind of bland and the texture seems more processed than i remember. I stopped also at the Blue Chip truck at City Hall and got the special hot dog and french fries (gravy always free). FF and gravy was marvelous as always but the hot dog was mediocre and wished I'd saved room for one of the carts further up University. Dinner was a Mothers Dumplings (Huron and Spadina) and this was a treat. I had Xiao long biao, scallion pancake and these were so good I ordered an order of boiled shrimp, egg chive and pork dumplings though i was already quite full. Its so nice to have the dumplings made to order with housemade wrappers. I think this place compares favorably to dumpling houses in Taipei and Busan (though not quite that good) and better than anything I've had in the US. Tried a couple of places the next day on Baldwin: Bocce for fettucine with lamb ragu and Matahari Grill for sea bass siracha and mango sorbet with fruit. Both places were fine but not special. That said, the abundance and diversity of good places on Baldwin is impressive. Based on reports here I tried the first Tiny Toms retail store on Woodbine at Dension, which opened last Monday. It was definitely a nostalgic taste of childhood spent at the CNE and lived up to those memories. The dozen bags are $3.50 but there are two for one coupons available online. Also, two new flavors since I was young: Chocolate sugar and apple cinnamon sugar but i'm still a sucker for plain icing sugar melting into the fresh hot fat coated morsels. Lastly Takebashi is a noodle place in Richmond Hill (Highway 7) that is servicable but tries to do too many things. One real ramen place (think Tampopo) would be terrific but haven't found this outside of Asia. Nice to see the pan-Asian diversity in these malls now with Korean, Vietnamese, and Northern Chinese places augmenting the wonderful Cantonese restaurants here. Overall good eating and I always feel blessed to visit your fair city.

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  1. I feel like I'm missing something at Carousel. I've had the peameal sandwich a number of times and it's always been very good at the least. Most people here seem to pooh pooh it but I love it.

    Maybe it really is me.

    DT

    7 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      It's not just you, Davwud. I love that sandwich too. But then, I haven't been in TO long enough to have fond memories from years ago that they fail to live up to. :)

      1. re: Wahooty

        Nostalgia is a harsh mistress. There are other places at St Lawrence Market now that have peameal sandwiches. Is Carousel the best or are they all about the same?

        1. re: gourmaniac

          I always get the breakfast on a bun: peameal + cheddar + fried egg. To me, the combination is _perfect_. I've never even bothered trying the plain peameal one..

          1. re: gourmaniac

            I believe many have said that the one at Paddington's is better. As rarely as I get it, I usually get it from Carousel so I can wander while I eat it. I think there's one other place people recommend as a superior alternative to Carousel, but I'm not sure which it is.

            Again, until 3 years ago I had never even heard of peameal, so I'm far from an expert on it. And while I enjoy it, I'm not passionate enough about that particular foodstuff to do a comparative study of every source - I only crave it a couple of times a year. But the next time I decide to get one, maybe I'll branch out in the name of good research. :)

            1. re: Wahooty

              just to clarify, you know that paddington's has a "to go" kitchen right? it's separated a bit from the restaurant and completely open to the rest of SLM. i'm also an eater/wanderer and if it weren't for that "to go" part i otherwise wouldn't have ever tried paddington's.

              1. re: Wahooty

                I've had Paddington's but I thought Carousel was better. I wouldn't turn my nose up at it though.

                DT

                1. re: Wahooty

                  i was a carousel breakfast on a bun fan for a long time until i tried paddington's breakfast on a bun. i prefer it as it's made fresh to order. (carousel's is fresh too i suppose but they make piles and wrap them for the rush.) my last carousel sandwich was very haphazardly prepared and the meat seemed a bit too wet from the fry steam (they fry too much at once). at paddington's i also like that you can dress the sandwich with lettuce tomato, hot peppers, condiments at no extra charge.

          2. Not a fan of Takebashi. Went on Wednesday night, after not going for many years and now I know why. Just not good the ramen. The only decent ones are downtown unfortunately.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MeXx

              I would agree with this. Good ramen is really wonderful. The beef noodle soup had more of a chewy korean style noodle. RE Carousel,they were definitely not made to order. less peameal bacon and a fried egg sounds nicer than what i had. Also noticed in this weeks New Yorker that Calvin Trillin (my hero) mentions the blue chip truck in his article on poutine.