Friday, September 13, 2019

Antojos Poblanos El Carmen

-Eating like a Mayan King in the Windy City

If you needed further proof google has passed up yelp for restaurant reviews check out today's stop. It's got 51 Google scores/reviews while no one has said anything about it on yelp. Aside from it's name Antojos Poblanos El Carmen caught my eye with it's listing of dishes served posted onto the windows. When I looked it up it didn't take long to realize it was a gem based off the menu and pictures of the food. Google had plenty of pics on offer and while you cant judge a dish based on how it looks you can tell in many cases the type of food they're cooking. Here that's Poblano dishes.

Locals Favorite in Maywood

Poblano style cooking being food from the Puebla region of Mexico. I've noticed an uptick in it around town. Perhaps none more worthy of a shoutout than this place. It's helmed by a mother who seems to do all the cooking. Of course based off the recipes you'd guess she hails from near Puebla and you'd be correct. The first few things mentioned when discussing food from the Puebla region of Mexico are both Cemita sandwiches and Tacos Arabes. El Carmen makes both of those. I tried a Taco Arabe which will never be as good over here as it is down there but still I liked this version alot. She didn't have a spit of meat up and running but the pork was shaved really nice and thin and crisped up well. I can never tell with the tortillas for a taco arabe which should be thicker than flour and almost pita like but I think this was just that. I've never seen anything like them in stores so I assume they too are homemade. This taco was basically the size of two and a nice snack if just looking for that.

Taco Arabe at Antojos Poblanos El Carmen

The food of Puebla has always been some of Mexico's most fascinating. Old world technique and ingredients blend with more modern European influences going back to the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Take for example the Molote. These are a regular in Puebla home kitchens. They're also a popular street food as a simple search of "Molote + Puebla" suggests lots of spots there specialize in them. The closest comparison for the Molote might be the Venezuelan empanada. Large submarine like pockets of masa are fried with a variety of ingredients inside. They're then doused with different sauces and salsa before being eaten. El Carmen will make you a molote with just about anything. I recommend trying the chorizo and potatoes or something else with cheese. Muy bueno.

Molote at Antojos Poblanos El Carmen

A chunk of the menu here consists of antojitos made with masa by hand. The humble Tlacoyo has started popping up more and more in Chicago. Born on the streets of Mexico City it's made it's way all across Mexico and Carmen makes a beautiful version. All of the antojitos made of masa come with your choice of sauce (green / red), no sauce, or "bandera" style which means flag and consists of both red and green. Another delicious treat worth trying are the Jarochas/Infladas. While most of us have heard of and enjoyed a gordita how many of you have tried the fried version? Infladas are fried and puffed up gorditas. They might as well be called the Original Puffy Taco. When fried they inflate (hence the name) and once removed from the fryer they're slit and typcially filled with refried black beans. It's funny bc all of these masa snacks are very similar in ingredients though a bit different in both tastes and texture. Safe to say that Carmen is an absolute master of the masa.

 Tlacoyo (top) and Inflada (bottom)

The menu item that let me know this place was the real deal is the Memela. At their most traditional  these are griddled cakes made with masa and topped with different ingredients be it meats and or sauce. They're very popular in Oaxaca which also has its origins in pre-Hispanic food. They're basically thicker and wider corn tortillas. Similar to both sopes and huaraches but ingredients used on those tend to be different. Then there's the Puebla version of the Memela. Different from all others in that the corn masa is filled with refried beans before being cooked to a crisp on a comal. It's then painted with your choice of red or green salsa and topped with whatever typical taco fillings you may want. That said you don't need any meat as the crispy cooked masa holds some wonderfully fragrant black beans which when paired with the salsas and fresh queso makes for magic. I've had a ton of memorable dishes this year and this is one I keep coming back to when asked "had anything great to eat lately?" Other popular Puebla dishes like Mole Poblano, Envueltos (mole poblano enchiladas), Tacos Placero, Chalupas, and more can be found on the well rounded menu. A gem of a stop. 

Memela at Antojos Poblanos El Carmen

Antojos Poblanos El Carmen
603 W Lake St
Maywood, IL 60153
(708) 397-5560
Website

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Mean Bao

-Grubbing in Chicago
Fried Bao Buns on Taylor Street

Is the Taylor street area Chicago's next hot spot for Chinese restaurant openings? It's certainly gaining momentum with the most recent place to open. Mean Bao appeared on the 1100 block a couple months ago. An online search revealed it may be the first US location of a Toronto based chain. That said the franchise from Toronto makes no mention of this location and the menu is different. So my guess is no. It's just coincidence they share the same name and a similar setup.

Recently Opened on Taylor Street

Aside from the bao they advertise in their name they also have noodles and dim sum. Early reviews on those two have been mixed but the bao seem to be selling. Different from most in that they're stuffed (not folded) and then pan fried giving off a bit of a potsticker vibe in bao form. After trying these I determined I much prefer when they're pan fried as the soft bao becomes slightly crisp and the flavors shift to a more of a baked bread taste. They’re pretty cheap at 3 for $4 which is more than enough for one person. They'll even let you order just one which makes for a great snack. Though not exactly a quick one. I've tried a few options including the curry chicken, Mongolian beef, and an egg yolk custard which is more sweet than savory. Nothing life changing but I enjoyed them for what they were. A nice snack for those rare times I don’t feel like a beef from Al’s down the block. I liked the Mongolian beef made with cubes of sauced up roast beef and the egg custard which was dripping with delicious warm yolk. We may see more of these pop up around town. It has a franchise feel.

Fried Bao at Mean Bao

Mean Bao
1139 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 929-3336

Monday, September 9, 2019

I-Cafe Sukur's Place

-Grubbing in Chicago
Central Asian / Turkish in Irving Park  

There is perhaps no cuisine more intriguing to me than Turkish food right now. Istanbul is a place I cant wait to get to. In the meantime I have I Cafe aka Pide Ve Lamacun. It sits on Irving Park just east of the brown line station. They've been a staple of the neighborhood for a while now. I've been going there for more than five years. It's a popular spot for Central Asian Chicagoan's to meet up and eat.

Locals Favorite in Irving Park

I Cafe is open seven days a week from 11-11. They seem to get a steady stream of customers all day. The menu here is Halal Turkish fare. Pork isn't served here and bc of religious restrictions it isn't that big in Turkish food overall. Instead you can expect typical Middle Eastern proteins like beef and chicken. If dining with a group a good way to start is an order of Pide aka Turkish Pizza. It's more like a flatbread stuffed with cheese and choice of vegetables or meats. It's a delicious dish and I Cafe is confident enough in theirs they put it in their full name. I-Cafe Sukur's Place / Pide Ve Lahmacun.

Pide at I-Cafe Sukur's Place / Pide Ve Lahmacun

If dining solo a good way to go is the daily specials menu. It changes but pretty much always pleases. If you see the Kofte (Turkish Meatballs) those are really good. They're just right as far as seasoning and fat content in the meat which is important bc you want it to drip into the rice.

Kofte Plate

You can find all the good stuff when it comes to spits and skewers. Try the combo plate featuring a little of each if you're having trouble deciding. Adana Kebab is one of Turkey's most popular regional foods and I-Cafe makes a pretty good one. Same goes for the doner meat which is always crisp and thinly shaven. Both of the beef and chicken kebabs are what they are and satisfying as such.

Combo Platter at I-Cafe Sukur's Place

My favorite menu item is another popular regional favorite from Turkey. Iskender Kabap is one of Turkey’s most well known regional dishes going back to the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century. It has layers of flavor going from the bottom up - bread, yogurt sauce, Doner meat, tomato sauce, and butter. Fans of Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza will find this dish to be delicious. Similar flavor profiles. Dishes like this is why Turkey is high on my hit list. I hope to get there and sometime soon.

Iskender Kabap at I-Cafe Sukur's Place

The ladies that run the front of the house at I-Cafe are very welcoming and usually offer up a slice of Kazandibi when you're finishing up. It's a milk pudding type dessert. I've found that Turkish spots are very generous when it comes to offering up items gratis whether it be bread and or pita with a red pepper spread or candy and other desserts such as this. I never leave a Turkish meal still hungry. 

Kazandibi 

I-Cafe Sukur's Place  
1814 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 755-4022
Website

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

10Q Chicken

-The Sammy's of Chi (land)

No I didn't get a chance to try the Popeye's Chicken Sandwich. Will I ever? Yeah I'm sure someday I'll be in a rush somewhere or just hangry and near one so that day will come. But I wasn't going to wait in line and make the poor employees getting what's most likely low hourly pay work twice as hard for the same crappy pay. Plus there's lots of other fried chicken sandwiches to be found around town. It was only a few years ago they were all the trend and most of them still remain. 10Q Chicken in Evanston is probably the place I would name when asked about my favorite fried chicken sandwich.

Locals Favorite in Evanston 

One of the guys behind this downtown Evanston chicken shop is the owner of the popular bopNgrill which has two locations in the city. It was originally across the street from ETHS before moving into Rogers Park. It's still close enough to Evanston that most of the people who live there full and part time know about it. But now many of those Northwestern students don't have to go into the city to get Korean inspired fast food. 10Q focuses in on chicken and you can get it a variety of ways but it's the sandwiches that drive sales. The namesake is Panko fried chicken breast, pickled radish, togarashi mayo, on a buttered brioche bun. None of the ingredients took away the flavors you want when the taste for a chicken sandwich comes calling. Which for me isn't often but next time one comes I hope there's a 10Q nearby. Otherwise next time I'm in Evanston. I'll probably pass a few Popeye's en route.

The 10Q from 10Q Chicken 

10Q Chicken
816 Church St
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 859-6100
Website

Monday, August 26, 2019

Eating BIG in Toronto Pt. 2

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
- Exploring Canada's Largest City 

We decided to spend this past 4th of July in Canada. It was a last second decision as we didn't have anywhere to go we just knew we wanted to get out of Chicago for the extra long weekend. Tickets were crazy expensive to anywhere worth flying so on a Wednesday afternoon we said f-ck it and got in the car and drove to Detroit for the night. The next morning we were up and into Toronto within four hours of crossing the border. The drive straight through is 8 hours and in my opinion that's about the max amount of time I want to spend driving for a three night stay somewhere which makes Toronto the best option for a roadtrip where you don't have more than 3/4 nights. Why is that you ask?

Sights from Toronto

Why are you here? Food! Toronto is quite possibly the most diverse city in the world. It has a population of more than 3 million people and more than half of them aren't from Canada originally. This makes for a melting pot that features flavors from all over the globe. Never have I been so overwhelmed with options and I probably wont be again until I go to Tokyo. The reason Toronto excites me as much as it does is due to the fact it has whom I consider to be the best food scout on the continent. Suresh Doss is the CBC Toronto Food Guide among other things. I've been following him online for a long time and we had the chance to hang out in Chicago this past year. Alas we didn't get a chance to cross paths on this trip as it was so last second. That said I went to to Toronto loaded with more than 50 spots I really wanted to try mostly bc of his excellent work covering the city's diverse food scene. His Google maps guide to all the spots he's covered at CBC is a must for any visitor to the city. He also does food tours which you can check on at his website found HERE.

Sights from Toronto

Since this was our second trip to Toronto in the last decade I got to see it grow. The first time we visited it felt like Chicago. This trip in felt more like NYC in that there were so many more cars and people on the streets and sidewalks. Like both cities it has a special buzz in the summer and bc of that paired with the obvious reason it's the best time to go. But really it's a city so whenever you visit you can find something. At the very least you can find a ton to eat. My goal was to try as many different cuisines as I could. I don't keep track so I'm not sure if I broke a record I just know that for as many different kinds of food I tried there's just as many that I missed. Which is why Drake's the Six is probably my favorite North American food city to visit. There's quite a few options you wont find anything like in Chicago and you could visit every year for the rest of your life and only cover a small portion of it. You'll probably need a car to do it all as like elsewhere the suburbs have become hot spots for immigrant food and culture. But even without a car you'll have plenty of options. Let's roll.

Sights from Toronto
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North Shore Pie Co.

This was my pick for spots we'd be passing on the ride into Toronto. It's west of the city as were quite a few of the spots on my map. I wouldn't be able to try them all due to the fact they were 40+ minute rides from the hotel. I love meat pies of all origins and varieties. They're particularly big in countries like Australia and New Zealand. The latter of which is where the owner of North Shore Pie Co. is from. They're mostly a takeout business and he told me people drive from Michigan to buy them frozen. They also have a selection of fresh baked pies available to eat then and there. I'd read the butter chicken was the most popular and was able to snag the last one for the day. It was awesome. Had they been open Sunday's I would've stopped to grab a case to keep in my freezer. Good stuff.

New Zealand Meat Pie from North Shore Pie Co.
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Soufi's

Toronto has a large number of Syrian refugees. As the years go on they're starting to open their own restaurants like this colorful looking spot that specializes in flatbread and treats like Knafeh. I decided to try the most popular item according to the nice lady taking my order. A Zaatar flatbread (Manaeesh) which is served folded over like a quesadilla. Zaatar is a blend of thyme & olive oil topped with fresh cucumber, tomatoes & mint. It was about 90 and sunny outside so this was the perfect snack for the weather. The bread was perfect. I wish we had a spot like this in Chicago is something I kept saying throughout this trip. Not a knock on Chicago though. Rather a testament to Toronto.

Manaeesh at Soufi's
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Saffron Spice Kitchen

While most folks back home were eating burgers and hot dogs on the Fourth of July I enjoyed some Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan being the single cuisine I was most excited to explore. Ever since I first discovered the aforementioned Suresh Doss (who's Sri Lankan himself) I've been very intrigued by this colorful cuisine through his travels there and around Toronto and Scarborough in particular. That's where you'll find the largest Sri Lankan community in North America. Unfortunately it's a bit of a ride from Downtown Toronto and I never made it there choosing to save the entire area for next time. In the meantime there's a fantastic Sri Lankan spot that's easily accessible on Queen street. I was there for the Kottu Roti which I'd read the owner of Spice Kitchen was obsessed with. Chopped up roti is stir fried with lamb, veggies, and curry which seemed like the type of dish I would love. It definitely was.

Kottu Roti at Saffron Spice Kitchen
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The Dreyfus

Our early July visit came right around the time this place was starting to make noise. Dreyfus is from a Joe Beef alum thus there's lots of French-Canadian influence. You wouldn't notice it if just walking by. It's tucked into a house that's also the home to a music teachers office. Inside the feel is of a natural wine bistro. The Dreyfus was the first of a few stops that night. So we went somewhat light. For starters an order of Marinated Mackerel with fresh cucumbers was wonderful. The perfect bite in what was the hottest time of the year in Toronto. The Pommes Dauphine was said to be the most popular item on the menu. They were light as air and felt as if the insides were hollow and not filled with mashed potatoes. One of my favorite bites (literally) of the trip were the finger food mash-up of a Cuban sandwich and a Croque-Madame - the Croque Cubano. I expect to see Dreyfus on Air Canada's popular best new restaurants list at the end of 2019. So make reservations before you go.

Meal at the Dreyfus
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Rhum Corner

I didn't think it was possible to create a Haitian bar as cool as Agrikol in Montreal. But Rhum Bar here in Toronto comes close. We loved both the food and drinks. The former of which had the usual suspects as far as Haitian dishes as well as some less known ones. Ever heard of Cashew Chicken? Not the American-Chinese dish but the Haitian version which they make here. But like I said we were hitting up a few spots this evening so we ended up splitting a plate of Griot (fried pork) with pikliz. We both adore this dish which is so much better when made fresh as is the case here. The plate came with some stir fried veggies as well as smashed plantains. As always the star of the show was the pikliz (pickled cabbage and carrots) which when ate with the pork is one of my favorite things.

Griot at Rhum Corner
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Après Wine Bar

We ended the night with some natural wine at Après Wine Bar. It's a sister restaurant to a popular spot called Canis. It opened early this year and has a menu of small plates to enjoy with the wine. The food is meant to be items that go great alongside wine and a plate of duck confit with oyster and white button mushrooms was causing flashbacks to France. It's rare for the duck not be the focal point of a dish with duck confit but the oyster mushroom was like a perfectly seasoned piece of meat.

Duck Confit at Après Wine Bar
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Hot Pot Restaurant 

There were lots of musts this trip. Jamaican jerk chicken being one of them. I still think this is the best chicken preparation ever as far as recipes and traditions go. Just make sure the chicken is being grilled over live coals. As far as finding that in Toronto that means heading over to York which is where Toronto's fading Little Jamaica is located. There's a row of restaurants along Eglington ave where they break out the oil drums on the sidewalk and start cooking. It's kind of like a mini social event for the neighborhood as lots of locals hang out and chill. I walked up to the Hot Pot Restaurant and was greeted by the grillmaster in part English part Patois. I got me a 1/4 bird with rice and peas and extra sauce ladled on top. I ate a little bit of it as I chatted with the grill guy about his hometown Ochos Rios which I've never been to as I could never go to Jamaica and not go to Negril. The jerk was on point though maybe a bit overcooked as I arrived later in the evening around 10/11p.

Jerk Chicken at Hot Pot Restaurant
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 Sabai Sabai

We walked over to this hip Northern Thai kitchen for lunch around opening and it was packed shortly after that. The flavors of Northern Thailand are something I’ll never get sick of. The stir fried chile Morning Glory was glorious like I remember it to be in Chiang Mai where we ate it daily for a week straight. Killer Khao Soi too. This spot wasn’t on my hit list but thanks to a quick tip from Suresh Doss on restaurants near my hotel it was the perfect lunch. Downtown is the spot to eat Thai food. 

Lunch at Sabai Sabai
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Sang-Ji Fried Bao

One of the driving factors in driving to Toronto was for some Sheng Jian Bao. I'm not even kidding. You cant find this delicious style of dumpling anywhere in Chicago and so those in the know say you wont find any good ones in America period. The ones I had from a famous spot in Hong Kong remain the best dumplings I've ever ate. I needed to get my fix as it had been almost an entire year since I first tried them in China. Toronto somehow has a few spots that specialize in these fried soup dumplings. Sang-Ji is one of them. They offer a few other menu items but the sheng jian bao are why everyone is here. They come four to an order and are ready quickly as they're made ahead and then left to steam. It's tough to wait when you have four luscious looking dumplings sitting in front of you but you must or else risk burning your mouth up bad. I waited more than 10 minutes and they were still piping hot but I was fine with the heat as I needed to eat. Some of the juiciest dumplings I can remember.

Sheng Jian Bao at Sang Ji Fried Bao
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Pars Grill

What’s a trip to T.O without a ride up and into North York and beyond? 'Tehranto' is home to over 100,000 Iranians. So you know the Persian food options are aplenty. You could dedicate a career to covering all the businesses stretching from North York up into Vaughan which is where I went for lunch. Pars Grill sits in the middle of a strip mall. You wouldn’t notice it if just riding down the streets but plenty of locals know this is where to go for gigantic plates of charcoal grilled kebabs. The specialty of the house is the regional Torsh Kebab. Veal is marinated in a paste of crushed walnuts, pomegranate juice, parsley, olive oil, and garlic. When grilled over hot coals it becomes smokey, sweet, and sour. Paired with that perfect Persian rice and a char grilled tomato with fresh salad seems pretty simple but it’s also perfection on a plate. Another gem from Suresh Doss and his CBC Toronto duties covering the city’s world class food scene. I need to go back for the koobideh kebab.

Torsh Kebab at Pars Grill
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Loga's Corner

Toronto is home to the largest diaspora of Tibetan people in North America and the Parkdale neighborhood is their hub. There’s plenty of options for Momo dumplings including this cool little cafe just off Queen St. West. Momo are the backbone of the community as many of its people have never been to Tibet. Some are born and bred Canadians while others like Loga and his son were born in India and moved to Canada. The making of Momo is a family ordeal and a way to preserve the culture. In many cases the people of Toronto are gifted with some delicious snacks when these Momo are made for family restaurants like Loga’s. Get the beef which are deep in beef  / onion flavor. Consider yourself warned with that red sauce. It packs heat. Loga’s has been on my radar since the T.O episode Eddie Huang’s ‘Huang’s World’ on Vice. I was hyped to finally stop by and both the food and service couldn’t have been better.

Momo Dumplings at Loga's Corner
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Mamakas Tavern

It was only one trip but I got the feeling Toronto is home to some of the best Greek food outside of Greece. Aside from the bustling Greektown you'll find Greek restaurants scattered throughout the city. Mamakas Tavern is serving slightly elevated Greek food. It's kind of like a Greek bistro. Inside it's a beautiful space on a popular dining block. We started with an order of fresh cut potatoes topped with a tzatziki aioli. Simplicity wins with this one. We couldn't decide between the lamb chops and the days fresh catch. We probably should've got both bc the fish was really good but I left wondering about the lamb chops. That said this meal had me aching for a trip to Greece for some food and fun.

Greek Food at Mamakas Tavern
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Imanishi Japanese Kitchen

We ate lots of Japanese food last time we came to Toronto. This time around we skipped the Vancouver Izakaya imports and focused on Toronto's homegrown spots. One of which is this low key Japanese kitchen pushing classic Japanese comfort food. The goal is to make you feel like you're a guest of someones Tokyo home and the food reflects this in a really good way. Most Japanese folks don't make ramen or yakitori or even sushi at home. So don't expect to find many of the dishes tourists like to eat at restaurants in Japan. For example potato salad is big in Japan and while it can be found on izakaya menus it's simple enough to make in the leisure of your own home. Imanishi uses a recipe incorporating sardines and serves their potato salad with taro chips. A plate of sashimi was stellar and plates of both corn kakiagi and chasu (braised pork cheek) were pretty much perfect.

Japanese Comfort Food at Imanishi Japanese Kitchen
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BB's Diner

There's a large Filipino population in Toronto and they've been there long enough to where the second generation Filipino kids are opening spots. BB's Diner is a weekends only (Fri/Sat/Sun) Filipino brunch destination. It's a small space inside of a pink house transformed into a restaurant. We went around the 11a opening and had to wait in line for about 10/15 minutes. The menu is fairly small but very mighty. Popular choices to start are the buttermilk fried wings that put Jollibee to shame. They come served with an amazing side of orange sauce. Maybe the best fried chicken I've ate this calendar year. A plate of what they just called greens in blackbean sauce was also killer. They have a choice of two breakfast plates with eggs. One of which is homemade corned beef hash. Probably my favorite breakfast dish so it was an easy decision for me over the marinated kingfish. I want to eat all my corned beef hash with a side of garlic rice from here on in. Worth the wait. Highly recommended.

Filipino Brunch at BB's Diner
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Baddies

How about some brekkie mate? That's breakfast in Australian slang. Man Toronto really does have it all. Over the past decade or so restaurants in Australia have made breakfast the country's strong point when it comes to food. Breakfast plates in trendy Australian cities like Sydney feature all sorts of bright colors and relatively healthy ingredients. It's almost an art which is why it's taken off in the last decade - Instagram. Baddies is in a what looked to be a formerly rundown area going through some gentrification. They had a full house on our visit but bc you walk up order and take a number there's quick turnover on the tables. Stuff like Avocado Toast is big here but we opted for a breakfast sandwich. Made with housemade sausage, fried egg, pickled red onions, coriander sauce and more. The best part was the house baked bun. It was light and fluffy but sturdy enough to hold everything.

Breakfast Sandwich at Baddies
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Danforth Roti Shop

Had we just been passing through Toronto and only had one option for lunch Trinidadian food would've been it. Usually I get my fix while in South Florida as there are no spots serving food from Trinidad in Chicago. The two most popular items when it comes to the cuisine of the Indo-Caribbean nation are roti and doubles. The former is similar to a burrito in that curried meats and or vegetables like potatoes are wrapped up in a wrap and easily ate on the go. West Indian style roti is primarily made from wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and water, and cooked on a tawa. Popular fillings incl. chicken curry and my personal favorite curry goat. Danforth Roti House makes an amazing roti. I've never had a bad roti (they're always good) but this one was just about perfect. I also enjoyed my doubles (always pronounced plural) which is the most popular street food of Trinidad made with two pieces of flat bread dough that are filled with curry channa and an extra hot pepper sauce. I LOVE this stuff.

Roti and Doubles at Danforth Roti House
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Efes Kebab House

Turkish food was also something I was interested in exploring. I didn't quite work out to my liking bc a couple of the spots I really wanted to get to didn't happen. Not just that but I also ordered wrong at Efes Kebab House which is a popular Turkish restaurant on Danforth. The pro move here is the Adana Kebab which is cooked over live charcoal. The grill is in the back so I totally spaced out and focused on the shawarma in front. I tried a beef doner which was still good for the traditional Turkish style but it's not the style I prefer. I like the Turkish expats in Germany's version a bit more.

Doner Sandwich at Efes Kebab House
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Souv Like

Greektown is loaded with gyro shops and some of them are very well known. I chose to hit up a low key locals type place for what I was hoping to be some real deal Greek gyros. Meaning some spit roasted pork stuffed into a pita with fries. The spit of pork gyro meat at Souv Like was exactly what I was hoping to see. I ordered a sandwich and took it outside to sit in front and watch the Greektown traffic go by. I got what I wanted as far as an "authentic" pork gyro goes. Not all gyros in Greece are made with pork meat but it's the most popular amongst the people and thus the most common.

Pork Gyros at Souv Like 
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Yueh Tung

Many of Toronto's most historic restaurants are immigrant owned. Yueh Tung is one of them. They lay the claim of having introduced Toronto to one of it's favorite dishes. Indo-Chinese Chili Chicken is found all over town as Indo-Chinese food is a big part of many Toronto peoples diets. Indo-Chinese being the food made popular by the Chinese community that has lived in Kolkata going back over a century. Just like Canadian-Chinese or Peruvian-Chinese it too has it's own signature dishes and Chili Chicken is one of the most popular ones. The owners daughters are doing what it takes to bring Yuen Tung into modern times of the restaurant world but they aren't doing anything to the classic Hakka recipes they've served for more than 30 years. The signature Chili Chicken (ordered dry) is a delicious plate of spicy fritters and grilled onions that gets crispier by the minute when you order the dish on the sizzling platter for $1 more. Chili, garlic, and ginger are all big ingredients in Indo-Chinese cooking so expect lots of that from here. S/O @mr_ez_livin for verification of it's deliciousness. There's a reason they go through 200 lbs of chicken a day.

Dry Chili Chicken at Yueh Tung
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Pinky's Ca Phe

If it weren't for the hot ass dining room our meal at Pinky's Ca Phe would've been near perfect. By which I mean this tribute to the Vietnamese-Cambodian bars and hangouts of the 1970's set in an old house gets hot in the middle of July. That's bc the open air kitchen is literally what was once probably the kitchen. Out in the backyard they have a full fledged grilling rig setup where much of the meat gets cooked. It's not always going to be scorching hot so do what you can to experience this fun spot with a killer dish. But first an order of soft shell crab fried rice which was very nice. But the Pork Jowl lettuce wraps may have been my favorite dish of the trip. Thinly sliced pork jowl which was grilled over charcoal is served with a deliciously funky SE Asian dressing and served with lettuce wraps and julienned veggies. One of the best little snacks I've ever had at a trendy spot like this.

Dinner at Pinky's Ca Phe 
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Wafels & More 

Before heading back we stopped over at the Kensington Market as we hadn't been over there yet. I liked the area on my first trip but you really only need to go over there once. It's not the best as far as produce and shopping and there's other areas where better food options are more compacted together. That said the Belgian waffles from Wafels & More were the perfect breakfast before hitting the road. The decision of which to do was a hard one as there were so many other spots I wanted to try in Toronto alas most of them weren't opening early and it made more sense to get on the road and back into the US as soon as possible. The line at the border was at least two miles long going into the Windsor streets so we made the right decision in that it took longer due to waiting to cross.

Belgian Waffle at Wafels & More
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Note: To find the locations of all the spots featured in this post, as well as places I didn't make it to, please click HERE for my google maps guide to Toronto. 

See ya next time @chibbqking 

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