Food

There’s no sincerer love than the love of ramen

ramen_Momofuku

There’s something about the first snowfall that makes me want to curl up with a bowl of comfort food, a warm cat, and a cup of gingerbread tea. I’ll even make the trek outdoors for a hearty meal with a friend. So when Kate asked me where we should go for our Thursday dinner date, my mind wandered for a bit before landing on ramen! Specifically, Momofuku Noodle Bar on University Ave and Queen St. W.

I made sure to bundle up. The only visible part of me were my eyes peeking out from under a toque and over three layers of a scarf. It was a cold cold night and I was glad we would be sitting down to warm bowls of ramen. I had never had real ramen — only the packaged kind my little brother used to make for me.

Of course, I went through the wrong entrance. I was in a gigantic room with people in suits, ties, and evening wear. I was going to text Kate and tell her I felt totally underdressed. Then I saw some people go through another entrance. I decided to follow them and was relieved to see younger folks in oversized sweaters and oversized glasses, which was the exact outfit I had on.

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Once we both arrived safe and sound, we decided to share the Momofuku Ramen and the Dan Dan Mian. Holy ramen, it was delicious! I also bought half a dozen cookies for the road, which were temptingly displayed in the Milk Bar on the second floor of the restaurant. I obviously had a corn cookie after the meal.

It was so nice to visit David Chang’s restaurant. I had watched him in the first season of The Mind of a Chef and then yesterday I was able to step into his world through his delicious dishes. The service was excellent. It was lovely to spend time with a friend over good food, a pint of cider, and beautiful furnishings.

I’d recommend putting on all your layers and braving the trek outdoors for a bowl of ramen.

There is no sincerer love than the love of food. – George Bernard Shaw

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Food

Enjoy a bowl of phở on a cool autumn day

One of the dishes that reminds me of home is the rice-noodle dish, phở. I remember my mom spending a whole day making the complex and flavourful broth from choice cuts of beef, marrow, and seasonings. The aroma of phở broth still takes me back to my childhood.

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I like to begin with tea and fresh rolls before a bowl of phở.

When I moved to Toronto, I was on a food mission: I wanted to find the best and most authentic bowl of phở in the city. When I sat down and ate my first bowl of phở at Phở Linh on College and Dufferin, I knew I had accomplished my phở mission.

I made sure to ask for their homemade noodles. It was well worth it. The noodles had substance but they were also melt in your mouth. The warm broth was magnificent especially on a cool autumn afternoon, and the beef was rare and tender. I topped the dish with bean sprouts, Thai basil, and a squeeze of lime; the dish already comes garnished with cilantro and green onions. I also added the smallest amount of Hoisin sauce because I like to maintain the purity of the broth; it’s already full of complex flavours so why mess up a good thing? The thing I love the most about phở is that it’s both comforting and refreshing.

If you happen to be in the College and Dufferin area, check out Phở Linh. It may just transport you back to your own childhood.

Note: Make sure you bring cash because they don’t take credit and they don’t have an ATM machine.

Phở Linh Restaurant
1156 College St
Toronto, ON M6H 1B5
(416) 516-3891

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Food

Ain’t no party like a pizza party

What's simple is best. Understated and delicious. The margherita D.O.P. pizza!

What’s simple is best. Understated and delicious. The margherita D.O.P. pizza!

Pizza, pizza, pizza. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I eat pizza at least once a week. My name is Nok and I’m addicted to pizza. It’s been one week since my last slice of ooey-gooey goodness. And I’m not picky: fast-food pizza, gourmet pizza, homemade pizza, I don’t discriminate.

So when a friend told me about a little pizza joint on Ossington that won third best pizza in the world, you know I had to get out my lactase pills and head over immediately.

The first pizza I ordered from Pizzeria Libretto was the duck confit pizza with bosc pear and mozzarella. I know, I like to get freaky with my toppings. But this non-traditional pizza was nothing short of traditionally-made culinary bliss. The pizza is baked for 90 seconds in a 900-degree wood-burning oven, which gives it their signature charred crust and blistered mozzarella.

I’ve tried half  of pizzas on the menu: duck confit, homemade sausage, grilled eggplant, Ontario prosciutto and arugula, cremini mushroom, and the margherita D.O.P. By far, the best pizza I’ve tried is the most traditional pizza on the menu. The margherita D.O.P. is beautifully topped with tomato, basil, and mozzarella. It’s understated and delicious. Sometimes the simplest meals are the best meals. But don’t let its simplicity fool you; it’s packed with flavour!

Behold! The cremini mushroom pizza. How did they know mushrooms are my favourite fungus?

Behold! The cremini mushroom pizza. How did they know mushrooms are my favourite fungus?

Note: If you’re heading to Pizzeria Libretto for an evening meal, you’ll probably have to wait a bit, anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour. But it’s worth it. In the past, I went across the street to a bar called The Painted Lady and had a pint as I waited for a text summons. I’ve also had a drink at the restaurant next to them called Fishbar. If you go for lunch, the wait will be substantially less. I went for their lunch prixe fixe, which is available from Monday to Friday, and you’ll only have to shell out $15. The last time I was there, I ordered the caprese salad, the margherita D.O.P. (my favourite one!), and both the biscotti and gelato (because I’m a dessert-monster).

Let me know if you’ve gone to Pizzeria Libretto (and died from bliss). What was your favourite pizza? Also, what’s your favourite pizza place? What are your must-have toppings?

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Food

You had me at ‘eggs benedict’

Waffle benny with poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, mini waffles, and caramelized bacon at Starving Artist, St. Clair West location.

I’ve never been huge on eating breakfast or brunch but that’s definitely changed since I moved to Toronto. Who knew this little meal between breakfast and lunch held such delicious promise?

One day I was myself — a person who was an advocate for lunch and a champion of dinner and a lover of dessert — then I became someone all-together different; I became a certified brunch enthusiast. Or should I say, an eggs-benedict junkie?

Check out Starving Artist for their mouth-watering take on eggs benedict, which features their often-imitated-but-never-duplicated potato waffles. Bon appétit, friends!

Waffle sandwich anyone? Chicken bacon club with roasted chicken, bacon, havarti, and cucumber sandwiched between two golden waffles.

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Food

Share a quiet moment with a close friend and a cup of coffee

Stella's Lunch Box: I found this hidden gem near my apartment.

Stella’s Lunch Box: I found this hidden gem near my apartment.

When I first moved to Toronto, I was wide-eyed and breathless. Not much has changed, though. I still feel inundated with the brilliant sights and sounds around me. It’s why I came here. I wanted to see life up close, I wanted to drink in everything, I wanted to come up for air only when I had taken in as much as I could.

I love being surrounded by simple and beautiful things like a warm cup of tea, a rustic table, a vase of white tulips, or a thoughtfully arranged living space. That’s why I felt I had uncovered a gem when my friend invited me for coffee at a café near our apartments.

This little place is called Stella’s Lunch Box and it’s situated off St. Clair Ave West — just to the east of the Corso Italia neighbourhood — on Lauder Ave. It’s on a quiet little side street with a fruit market across the way, and it sits flush against DeSotos restaurant.

They serve simple and fresh sandwiches, but I would still describe it as a café. The smell of freshly baked croissants, which I had the pleasure of eating, and the aroma of coffee beans makes this place a haven for me.

I was lucky enough to visit the café when they had just made a fresh batch of croissants.

I was lucky enough to visit the café when they had just made a fresh batch of croissants.

Even as a self-identified introvert, I still enjoy hanging out one-on-one with a friend or in small gatherings with new acquaintances. It always amazes me when I see someone sitting solitarily in a café writing on a laptop or quietly reading a book by themselves. I find these acts to be my most intimate experiences and my most cherished; it would be difficult for me to do these things in public. But what I can do is share a quiet moment with a friend and a cup of coffee while we marvel at the world outside.

Stella’s Lunch Box
145 Lauder Ave
Toronto ON M6H 3E4

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Food

You can’t go wrong with fried goodness

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Bat sandwich with bacon, arugula, and fried green tomato on sourdough bread

Talk about comfort food. Mmmm, Stockyards. The Stockyards: Smokehouse and Larder was the first restaurant I went to as an official Torontonian.

My partner Geoff, myself, and our cat Kinglsey were exhausted from our day of moving and we needed a break from our cluttered apartment. A friend of ours, who frequents Toronto quite a bit, recommended we check out Stockyards. He told us they’re famous for their chicken and waffles, so of course, we had to give it a try!

We ended up ordering a mountainous plate of golden, perfectly fried, perfectly seasoned chicken atop fluffy Belgian waffles. And because we like to share, we also ordered The Classic burger. Wow. I knew the chicken and waffles would probably be amazing, but I was overjoyed at the first bite of the burger. It was juicy and nicely cooked. There’s nothing worse than an overdone burger.

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Chicken and waffles: comfort food at its best.

We’ve also tried their Saturday brunch menu and it does not disappoint. You can really tell the quality of a restaurant by the way they prepare their simplest menu items. I tried their biscuits with a side of jam and butter (which is accented with silvers of citrus), and Great Caesar’s Ghost! The softness of the warm biscuit with the melting butter and jam combination was heavenly. My body was a tingle!

I’ve also tried their Bat sandwich which has bacon, arugula, and a fried green tomato (top photo). I’ve never had fried green tomatoes before, and I realized I had been missing out this whole time! Try it with a homemade ice tea infused with ginger or black cherry soda (which is my go-to drink whenever I’m there, which I now realize, is a lot, a whole lot).

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Our first meal as Torontonians: We were too busy eating the food so I only had a chance to take a photo of this black cherry soda.

Word of advice: Make sure you check out their menu or call in advance; sometimes certain menu items are available during specific days and/or times.

If you’re going for brunch on a Saturday, I would recommend getting there before 10:30 am. Stockyards has a crowd of brunch loyalists. You could perhaps opt for take-out, but I love dining in, sitting by the front window and people-watching.

Also, the portions are sizeable so it’s nice to go with a friend if you need help finishing a plate. But let’s face it, left-over fried chicken at two in the morning is just sinfully good.

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Food

Enjoy an afternoon of fresh sushi and sunshine

Kuni Sushi Ya is one of my favourite sushi restaurants. The food is fresh, simply prepared, and mouth-wateringly delicious.

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My sushi feast at Kuni Sushi Ya was featured on the Gastropost section of The National Post.

There’s nothing better than enjoying a fresh dish while sitting on the patio with the summer sunshine coming through the overhanging branches.

It’s situated on a quaint street in Baldwin Village. Baldwin Street in Baldwin Village. Easy, right? The servers are nice and accommodating. I’ve been there a handful of times, and I’ve been served by the same two friendly people.

A word of advice: If you’re getting the all-you-can-eat, which I would recommend, don’t wear high-waisted shorts, you’ll be wishing you had more belly room. I would also recommend bringing something to read. I like to hit up a nearby park afterwards to let my belly breathe.

An all-you-can-eat feast with tea and tip will cost you around $18. Well worth it for a lovely Saturday or Sunday lunch.

Kuni Sushi Ya,
20 Baldwin St
Toronto, ON M5T 1L1
(416) 260-3188

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