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Food you can't find in Toronto.

TorontoTuna Dec 22, 2013 11:47 PM

While Toronto has some very fine dining and a plethora of foodstuffs due to its rich ethnic diversity, there are certain niche tastes that remain unfulfilled. Not to demean our great city, but perhaps the restaurateurs and provisioners will take note.

1) Spudnuts. These amazing potato doughnuts are found in Michigan, Ohio and Saskatoon. Better than any of the current frou-frou doughnuts currently in vogue.

2) Potato buns for dogs and burgers. I really don't get this one, as there in no bun better for the patty or tube steak than a potato bun.

3) Coney Dogs. You want the very best hot dog ever? The coney dog rules...but you have to go to Michigan to get the real deal.

4) A real soda fountain chocolate soda. The old fashioned soda fountain has made a reawakening in some cities like New York, but we're pretty much behind the curve re our population of soda jerks.

Okay Chowhounders...let's hear what is missing in the big smoke.

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  1. d
    disgusti RE: TorontoTuna Dec 22, 2013 11:51 PM

    real good turkish/german turk style doner

    1. Frids RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 03:55 AM


      1 Reply
      1. re: Frids
        mrsleny RE: Frids Dec 23, 2013 09:07 PM

        Agreed. Especially with the recent success of Naomi Duguid's book, "Burma".

      2. c
        currycue RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 04:55 AM

        Really good, authentic Belgian cuisine (Gentse stoverij/Tomaat garnaal, etc) really good, authentic Madrid style tapas bar. (Bravas/chorizos in sherry/croquetas)

        1. Full tummy RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 04:57 AM

          Loblaws has a PC chocolate soda now. Don't know if that's what you're looking for.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Full tummy
            TorontoTuna RE: Full tummy Dec 23, 2013 07:22 AM

            Not close. Google soda fountain chocolate soda to see what I'm on about.

            1. re: TorontoTuna
              prima RE: TorontoTuna Dec 24, 2013 11:11 PM

              Have you tried the Samitorium? http://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine...
              I haven't been, but the article mentions they offer a chocolate egg cream. Not sure if they use U Bet or make the syrup in-house.

              1. re: prima
                TorontoTuna RE: prima Dec 25, 2013 12:55 AM

                Thanks Prima! This whole exercise was in no way meant to castigate my beloved city, but to goose those purveyors of food on the local landscape to listen to the desires of those of us who are bereft of certain food experiences and perhaps...to profit by...filling the gap in our own taste-buds of yore. Were I to start a Coney Dog franchise tomorrow, with real Coney sauce and steamed potato buns, I'd need armed guards for crowd control. After the holidays I will certainly go to Samitorium for a New York Egg-cream. Thanks for the tip!

                1. re: TorontoTuna
                  pourboi RE: TorontoTuna Dec 25, 2013 08:03 AM

                  Yes we all know that starting a restaurant is that easy, no one will complain that it is not exactly authentic, that the price is wrong or the portion is too small or that they think the texture of the bun is not quite right..

                  1. re: pourboi
                    Main334 RE: pourboi Dec 25, 2013 08:06 AM

                    well said

                2. re: prima
                  MissBingBing RE: prima Dec 25, 2013 03:15 PM

                  Samitorium is closed.

                  1. re: MissBingBing
                    TorontoTuna RE: MissBingBing Dec 25, 2013 04:51 PM

                    Thanks for the heads up, Bing. Guess I'll just continue to make my own, along with my Spudnuts, potato buns, real Coney sauce (thank you Cumbraes for getting me the ground veal heart) and Parker House rolls. But hey, would be nice to buy same on the street, but if I have to spend the time to have it right than so be it. Just wish I could find a discreet way to give all of you Chowhounders a Coney dog for Christmas.

            2. KhaoSanRoad RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 06:02 AM

              pon de rings!


              i think a single outlet of the asian version of mister donut would kill like crispy creme once did.

              - khao san road

              1. jayt90 RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 07:39 AM

                I haven't seen fresh gruner herring in GTA.
                Even shad in late winter is hard to find now, let alone get it filleted..

                1. PoppiYYZ RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 03:39 PM

                  Totally agree about potato buns. They are THE bun for a burger. A good pretzel bun will do in a pinch however.

                  Missing :

                  1) German Hand Kase. Available at Brandts, Dennigers, and other European stores for years, but now I'm being told there are "difficulties" importing it. Sadly missed.

                  2) Peruvian.

                  3) Tongue melting hot Korean Buldak Chicken.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PoppiYYZ
                    meatnveg RE: PoppiYYZ Dec 27, 2013 06:02 PM

                    Have you tried El Fogon or El Plebeyo for Peruvian? Both are on St Clair near Vaughan rd/Bathurst

                  2. prima RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 03:44 PM


                    1. kwass RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 04:59 PM

                      Sud Forno makes potato doughnuts. I'm not sure how they compare to Spudnuts, but you might want to give them a try.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: kwass
                        TorontoTuna RE: kwass Dec 23, 2013 05:53 PM

                        Thanks. I'll give 'em a go...but the real Spudnut is made with mashed potatoes, not just potato flour.

                        1. re: TorontoTuna
                          kwass RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 05:58 PM

                          I'm not sure how Sud's is prepared.

                          1. re: TorontoTuna
                            Malcolm Ruthven RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 08:29 PM

                            >the real Spudnut is made with mashed potatoes, not just potato flour<

                            You're right, it seems the Pelton brothers (creators of Spudnuts) first tried potato flour then switched to mashed potatoes. Then they developed a mashed potato dry mix that they could ship. Spudnuts is long gone as a franchise but some shops remain, mostly fending for themselves about the mix and process.


                            If you know of Spudnut shops that aren't on that list of current shops, sent an email to that SpudnutInfo site.

                        2. hal2010 RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 08:33 PM

                          Cambodian food. Lao, too!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: hal2010
                            neighborguy RE: hal2010 Dec 28, 2013 09:59 AM

                            Very odd how a world-class and sized city like Toronto has no Cambodian restaurants but you go to Kingston and the availability is very different.

                            1. re: neighborguy
                              prima RE: neighborguy Dec 28, 2013 10:12 AM

                              Khmer Thai is a Cambodian resto on St Clair West. www.khmerthai.com/

                              Most of the Thai restos in London, ON are owned by Laotians. Thai food is a much easier sell than Laotian or Cambodian food, so I'd think most Laotians and Cambodians in the restaurant business in Ontario end up cooking and selling more spring rolls, pad thai and green curry than anything else. Even the Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants in London have been selling pad thai lately.

                              1. re: neighborguy
                                hal2010 RE: neighborguy Dec 28, 2013 03:57 PM

                                There are a few Cambodian restaurants in Kingston but I have yet to find one that sells the food I enjoyed in Cambodia. They're heavy on Thai/Vietnamese with maybe a lemon-grass rich curry called "Khmer". No Fish Amok, Morning Glory or Lap.

                            2. Charles Yu RE: TorontoTuna Dec 23, 2013 08:44 PM

                              - Hearty 'Edinburgh Style' Haggis.
                              - Kvarner Scampi from the Adriatic
                              - Spanish Churros and thick chocolate
                              - Barcelona style 'Zarzuela'.
                              - Swedish Smorgasbord.
                              - Rijsttafel feasts 'a la Amsterdam'.
                              - Real Marseille style Boullabaisse using Red Mullet, John Dory, Rascasse, Monkfish and Conger eel
                              - Swahili Coconut Curry - Zanzibar style
                              - Cambodian Amok - Coconutty fish curry cooked in banana leaves
                              - Great Mexican 'Mole'.
                              - Brazilian Creamy Seafood Stew - Moqueca
                              .........etc., etc., etc

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                Amac RE: Charles Yu Dec 24, 2013 09:36 PM

                                I saw Charles & canmark mention Rijstafel and wanted to make you aware of the once-a-season Rijstafel events at Quince Bistro. Although I never did go for Rijstafel when in Amsterdam, I have enjoyed the Quince version a couple of times. From what I understand, the chef first started serving Rijstafel while spending time in the Dutch Navy. Definitely worth trying. Enjoy!

                                1. re: Amac
                                  Charles Yu RE: Amac Dec 25, 2013 08:50 AM

                                  Thanks!! Nice X'mas present!!
                                  Any idea when that season starts?!

                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                    blitz RE: Charles Yu Dec 25, 2013 09:31 AM

                                    i think you can sign up with their emailing list or follow them on twitter?

                                  2. re: Amac
                                    bytepusher RE: Amac Dec 25, 2013 02:25 PM

                                    We love the Rijstafel at Quince and go almost every time it's offered and I think the most recent one in October was the best yet.

                                    But be careful of comparing it to Amsterdam, what they make at Quince is high quality and the price is great but the servings and the number of dishes offered doesn't quite get up to the level that they do in Holland, Quince usually does 15 or 16 dishes, the Amsterdam places are sometimes 30+ dishes. Not to put anyone off, I think its a great meal and great value but just to manage expectations.

                                  3. re: Charles Yu
                                    catherine88 RE: Charles Yu Dec 27, 2013 05:26 PM

                                    Charles - you might like to try the churros and chocolate at monk kitchen. Chef roberto makes them and i think they are better than any I've tried in the city. You might have to ask for them in advance, but they seem pretty open to requests.

                                    1. re: catherine88
                                      Charles Yu RE: catherine88 Dec 28, 2013 10:31 AM

                                      Many Thanks!!
                                      With ALL the calorie intakes during the holiday. Have to be way after the new year before giving the combo a try!! Ha!!

                                  4. s
                                    Sam I Am RE: TorontoTuna Dec 24, 2013 04:59 AM

                                    - pan de yuca (ecuadorian style, not the slightly more available pan de quesos found along dufferin / north york)

                                    - brazilian bobo de camarao

                                    - (even pseudo) authentic uruguayan / argentinian parillas

                                    1. d
                                      Dean Tudor RE: TorontoTuna Dec 24, 2013 06:57 AM

                                      Anything Mexican

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Dean Tudor
                                        TorontoJo RE: Dean Tudor Dec 24, 2013 06:59 AM

                                        I'll second that with the amendment: "except tacos". :o)

                                        1. re: TorontoJo
                                          trane RE: TorontoJo Dec 27, 2013 09:53 AM

                                          Hey! We still need tacos like from Tacos El Gordo. Cabeza, Lingua, Tripa, and real al pastor.

                                          1. re: trane
                                            TorontoJo RE: trane Dec 27, 2013 11:21 AM

                                            Fair enough! :0)

                                      2. m
                                        Michael N RE: TorontoTuna Dec 24, 2013 06:58 AM

                                        Sliders. *Real* sliders, not just mini burgers. See here for an example of what I mean:


                                        1. b
                                          bobbob911 RE: TorontoTuna Dec 24, 2013 09:34 AM

                                          BBQ with any hint of smoke to it.....

                                          1. c
                                            canmark RE: TorontoTuna Dec 24, 2013 10:28 AM


                                            1. prima RE: TorontoTuna Dec 24, 2013 12:46 PM


                                              1. v
                                                Vinnie Vidimangi RE: TorontoTuna Dec 25, 2013 06:00 PM

                                                Good bread ( with some minor exceptions).

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                                                  PoppiYYZ RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Dec 26, 2013 02:27 PM

                                                  Very true.

                                                  There are some tasty breads, but the real problem is few bakeries sell really fresh bread. Try finding a fresh baked loaf to serve at dinner.

                                                  1. re: PoppiYYZ
                                                    kwass RE: PoppiYYZ Dec 26, 2013 03:15 PM

                                                    Epi Makes freshly baked bread, and their bread is delicious!!

                                                  2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                                                    sumashi RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Dec 27, 2013 11:29 AM

                                                    To add to this, proper banh mi bread!

                                                    1. re: sumashi
                                                      DDD RE: sumashi Dec 27, 2013 01:55 PM

                                                      On the Vietnamese theme: egg coffee

                                                      1. re: sumashi
                                                        frogsteak RE: sumashi Dec 28, 2013 01:41 PM

                                                        I agree, banh mi bread has been very disappointing here. I take it that no place uses rice flour.

                                                    2. a
                                                      Apple RE: TorontoTuna Dec 26, 2013 07:01 PM

                                                      Grateful for what our city has to offer, but if I could ask for one small thing, it would be chicken apple breakfast sausage.

                                                      In the US, it seems every grocery store has a multitude of choices for this amazing breakfast meat. For those of us who don't like pork (yes, there are a few of us) - it is amazing to have several chicken apple sausages to choose from (links / rounds / different brands / etc.) :)

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Apple
                                                        TorontoTuna RE: Apple Dec 27, 2013 10:49 AM

                                                        Was just in Royal Beef getting my tri-tip for the green Egg (beautiful day kids...get out the Q ) Anyway, they have apple/rabbit sausage to kill for. Close your eyes and pretend it's chicken. Great with an Emmental, duck egg omelet. I called back after reading your post and the girl said she would talk to the butcher about your wants. A lot of small merchants in Toronto are very accommodating and will often go out of their way to help a customer.

                                                        1. re: TorontoTuna
                                                          estufarian RE: TorontoTuna Dec 27, 2013 11:55 AM

                                                          My compliments on using 'to kill for'. I don't think I want to die for any food!

                                                      2. c
                                                        catherine88 RE: TorontoTuna Dec 27, 2013 05:27 PM

                                                        Black and white cookies.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: catherine88
                                                          GoodGravy RE: catherine88 Dec 28, 2013 06:11 PM

                                                          Yes! to b&w cookies. I got some at Glasers in NYC while picking up stollen for a party.

                                                          Add to the list: bialys and Charlotte Russe.

                                                        2. s
                                                          superangela RE: TorontoTuna Dec 28, 2013 12:55 PM

                                                          Poke-as in Hawaiian Poke.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: superangela
                                                            prima RE: superangela Dec 28, 2013 01:14 PM

                                                            There is poke at Zee Grill, afaik.

                                                            1. re: superangela
                                                              GoodGravy RE: superangela Dec 28, 2013 06:13 PM

                                                              Spam musubi would be nice.

                                                            2. f
                                                              frogsteak RE: TorontoTuna Dec 28, 2013 01:39 PM

                                                              Does anyone know where I can find Hema curry ketchup?

                                                              1. e
                                                                eppicurious RE: TorontoTuna Dec 28, 2013 09:09 PM

                                                                Oyster crackers?

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