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Seeking Culinary Adventure in Toronto

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My wife and I love to immerse ourselves in foreign cultures. We've lived in Tokyo & New York and, well, we've been spoiled with countless unforgettable culinary experiences abroad. Now, we have an infant and we're (somewhat) tied down in Canada.

In Toronto, we loved the dining experience at The Sultan's Tent - you really get a flavour for Morocco. Alas, I have not been able to find another restaurant in Toronto that offers such a complete sensory experience. I would LOVE any suggestions!

So, what are we looking for? The main quality is that we would like to feel transported out of Toronto for ... two or three hours. Honestly, the food doesn't have to be scrumptions; it should be authentic.

One last thing: my wife's birthday is Dec 4th and I was hoping to find something before then. Currently, I'm weighing the Ethiopian restaurant Zagol on Bloor. I love the fact that we can eat with our hands (with flatbread) but I'm disappointed that customers don't sit on the floor. I would also love to treat her to a meal at Eigensinn Farm (2 hrs from Toronto) but $275 a plate is a bit out of my price range.

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!

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  1. The Sultan's Tent, in the eyes of most Toronto chowhounders, is famous for its LOUSY food! Since you still find the dining experience enjoyable, it means that you are placing more emphasis on theme, decor and ambiance rather than food quality. As such, I would recommend you give 'Cynthia's Chinese cuisine' near Promenade Mall ( corner of Bathurst and Hwy#7 ) a try. You will love the fairly authentic Chinese decor ( lanterns, dragon pillars, green tiles...etc ) as well as servers all dressed in Ching dynasty costume. Actually the food is pretty acceptable too!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Thanks for your suggestion Charles! Yes, I have to admit, if the atmosphere & ambiance are sufficiently tranformative, the quality of food is not so important. (Am I allowed to write that on a website for foodies??).

      Cynthia's looks good but, I fear, it wouldn't be special enough for my wife's birthday. We live quite close to Chinatown and we regularly immerse ourselves in reasonably- authentic restaurants there. Any other suggestions along similar lines?

      1. re: alastairc

        For ambiance, I'll recommend The Fifth Grill on Richmond street west. It isn't very "ethnic" but it does pack some glam that Toronto isn't known for. The food is really good, too.

        1. re: alastairc

          How about Brazillian BBQ? My understanding is that on a weekend night you can find traditional dancing to go along with your AYCE meat fest.

          1. re: trane

            I actually think Ethiopian is a great idea. Take a cruise through the various postings on Ethiopian restaurants in Toronto and follow links within each, to help decide which restaurant would be best for you. It would be a lot of fun for you to sit at a lower table, enjoy communal eating on an injera-lined platter, then experience the coffee ceremony afterward. Other chowhounders may have more experience with the range of Ethiopian options than I do, but some restaurants have more traditional decorations on the wall, music, tables and dress (on servers). Some also offer Ethiopian beer brands in bottles, which could be of interest to you.

            I love the flavours of Ethiopian food. I'm partial to the vegetable dishes, but I also enjoy the slow cooked meat options, because of the tenderness of the meat and complexity of spicing. Some menus offer raw meat dishes, tripe and tongue dishes, so if you're adventurous, ask about them. I've been to Queen of Sheba, Rendez-Vous, Lalibela and Dukem. Thus far, my favourites have been Dukem and Rendez-Vous, but that is more for the food than ambiance. I found the spicing and textures more interesting at both than the other two on the list. My next destination is Wazema, which is also supposed to be very good.

            1. re: 1sweetpea

              You could also try pomegranate at bathurst and college for persian food. Its a small cute restaurant, so make reservations, and the food is really good.