Indonesian? Other great places?
- Shannon Clark
Hi, I will be visiting Toronto over Labor Day and would like to find a few special places to go to while in town (Staying downtown near the CN Tower, won't have a car).
Ideally, I would like to find a place for Ristafel (sp?) - i.e. a great Indonesian place which are difficult to come by, especially in the US.
Other than that, great, non-touristy, especially ethnic places that serve dishes of very high quality for reasonable prices would be highly appreciated.
As far as I know, the only remaining Indonesian restaurant in Toronto is Garuda at 373 Eglinton Avenue West (west of Avenue Road). Yes, they do offer rijsttafel. However, I've never been there myself so I don't know how good their food is. And the restaurant is way uptown - by public transit it would take you about 30 minutes.
There are many previous threads on "where to eat in downtown Toronto - CN Tower/SkyDome area". The general recommendation is to get out of the area, and hop on the streetcar/subway to Chinatown, Little Italy, Greektown, etc.
Garuda's menu is linked below. I haven't been there either. There's a Dutch place in Port Credit that does a Rijsttafel, but it's even harder to get to by public transit. Toronto has never had a wide selection of Indonesian places.
I used to enjoy going to Bali Restaurant on Avenue Road, just north of Lawrence, but it's now long gone.
I went there and I thought the food was pretty good though I think they may have tinkered with the recipe to suit the taste of the general public a bit, or it's from a region of Indonesia I've not had food from (my parents are from Indonesia). I find it to be a little pricy though...I guess it's a little tough for me to eat out and spend a good amount of money at a place that mostly serves food that I've eaten a bunch of times at home. (I went there mostly out of curiosity sake.)
Rijsttafel = Rice table
For good ristaffel, I would suggest that you go to Amsterdam. That's not the name of the restaurant, it's a city in the Netherlands! I think that anything you get in Toronto is going to be disappointing.
Something a little more uncommon that you might try is Vietnamese food. (A lot of the boat people were originally ethnic Chinese, but they speak Vietnamese). Three suggestions are:
(1) Saigon Palace, on Spadina almost at College Street (near the El Mocambo, if you're into music history). The have good pho (beef soup) and rice dishes (e.g. with grilled chicken or pork). Best of all, they serve fruit drinks (e.g. open a can of canned lichees or jackfruit, pour over crushed ice). You could do this at home, but somehow, we never do!
(2) Cafe 668: 668 Dundas Street, east of Bathurst. REALLY good vegetarian food, Vietnamese in style. You'll never miss the meat.
(3) Co Yen: Vietnamese sandwiches -- like submarine sandwiches on a short baguette with a carrot salad stuffed in. Try the BBQ pork (it a red, sausage-shaped meatball). It will cost you all of 99 cents (Canadian) for one of these! Buy two and stuff your self. (The French taught the Vietnamese how to bake baguettes, so the bread is really great).
All of these places are casual and priced low, and they'll give you an excuse to walk up Spadina into Chinatown, or otherwise wander around the city. There are other reviews on chowhound.com that cite these places (e.g. under vegetarian), but I'm not sure that we've ever had a Vietnamese thread. (I know we don't have one responding to an Indonesian request!)
Thanks for the suggestions, I've had Vietnamese food many, many times - didn't have much this most recent trip (one meal at Spring Roll where I ordered some Vietnamese dishes) but I have eaten it often in the past.
I first had Ristaffel in Amsterdam, which is why I look for opportunities elsewhere when I am traveling. Unfortunately Toronto is no longer a city with an option for Ristaffel, Bujadi is closed (a sushi place, Tokyo Sushi is moving into the space). This weekend when we walked by there, the guy painting the Tokyo Sushi sign said that the owners of Bujadi closed the restaurant and have retired to Hong Kong.
Over the weekend we wandered all over downtown Toronto, including Chinatown though we didn't end up eating at Chinatown (see my posts later today for the places we did eat at, all excellent).