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Food you can't find in Toronto.

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. real good turkish/german turk style doner

      1. re: Frids

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

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

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

          7 Replies
          1. re: Full tummy

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

            1. re: TorontoTuna

              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

                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

                  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: MissBingBing

                    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. 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. 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. 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

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

                    1. 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

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

                        1. re: TorontoTuna

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

                          1. re: TorontoTuna

                            >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.

                          1. re: hal2010

                            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

                              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

                                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. - 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

                                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

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

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

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

                                  2. re: Amac

                                    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

                                    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

                                      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. - 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. re: Dean Tudor

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

                                        1. re: TorontoJo

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

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


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

                                              1. Good bread ( with some minor exceptions).

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                  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

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

                                                    1. re: sumashi

                                                      On the Vietnamese theme: egg coffee

                                                      1. re: sumashi

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

                                                    2. 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

                                                        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

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

                                                        1. re: catherine88

                                                          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.

                                                          1. re: superangela

                                                            There is poke at Zee Grill, afaik.

                                                            1. Does anyone know where I can find Hema curry ketchup?