In July we have a few days and some fantastic eats in and around Toronto. Never heard of poutine, but I see that it is a Canada thing and seems to be offered everywhere. Essential elements: fries, cheese (preferably cheese curds) and a hot gravy or sauce over all.
The Doubletree also offers a great breakfast frittata––big enough for the two of us. We order it every day we are there. You can get Canadian bacon or crispy strip bacon––we try it both ways––no matter how you have it, bacon is good.
We walk from the hotel to Chinatown––the Chinatown that is close to downtown. We want to try the dumpling place that we passed earlier on the bike tour. Bike guide Ken seemed to think it was good. We find the right street and walk toward where we think it is,
Then we find the dumpling place: closed on Tuesdays. Alas, it’s Tuesday.
So we go back to the duck-window-restaurant: King’s Noodle House. Everyone going in and out looks Chinese, so I poke my head inside the door and ask a stupid question: “Do you have an English menu?” The lady nods without saying anything; her face says it all: “You are in Toronto, stupid lady.”
A guy from Chile and his wife from Machu Piccu area take the table next to us––nice friendly couple. He’s traveled all over, says that he was a Canadian citizen (there must be a history on that) and they came to the Toronto area when he lost his job in Chile. His wife looks Quechua, smiles a lot but says little, or maybe nothing. He tells us they eat at this restaurant every time they’re downtown. We have a nice conversation, mostly about food. He can speak a few words of Japanese and is surprised we can’t speak Spanish. But I feel worldly, just chatting with a such a multi-linguist.
A light sprinkling when we leave restaurant turns into a heavy downpour by the time we cross the street. Because our umbrellas and rain jackets are sitting in the hotel room, we wait it out in vestibule of a pharmacy, then walk fast back to hotel––a little rain fails to dampen our spirits.
Bonus: Wednesday is a day outside the city, a tour of the Falls with relatives. We have a big lunch at Taki, a traditional Japanese restaurant in Niagara.
They drive us back to the suburbs and we catch the 7:47 GO train to downtown. Before we can get on, hundreds of bright blue T-shirts pile off––Blue Jay fans heading home after the game. We get to Union Station at close to 9 PM, and decide to take a chance and see if the dumpling place is open late.
From the station, we find Front St, followed it up University Ave to Dundas and turn left to Chinatown.
Long walk, but we needn’t worry about the time. Maybe it is a good thing we’re so late, we don’t have to wait for a table. The restaurant is packed, every chair in the small space taken after we’re seated.
We have four each of pork & chives, mixed vegetables, and spinach & mushrooms. Cost: 12 fried dumplings for $10.99 plus tax. Steamed are 15 for $10.99. Even better? Prices are in Canadian (a little over $8US). We’re too full to try any of the regular dishes also available at this tiny restaurant.
As we walk back, we see that King’s Noodle House is closed on Wednesdays; maybe they coordinate their schedules.
The next day we re-trace the bike trip in a different direction: over to Yonge Street, past Trinity Park church and Eaton Centre, down Jarvis to the St Lawrence Market, a huge, covered marketplace, with dozens of eating options. The pork sandwiches look good, but we choose to eat at Buster’s Sea Cove.
I have a crabcake sandwich (bad) and Irv eats a halibut sandwich (slightly less bad). Both poor choices for our lunch. Too bad we didn’t do a little research beforehand.
We see something called peapork, and have no idea. We look it up to see it’s “pea-meal bacon,” Canadian bacon or pork loin breaded with cornmeal, originally breaded in pea meal, and the name stuck. A signature signature dish of the “St Lawrence Market”) — shoulda had that! Shoulda read about the sandwich and Carousel Bakery before we went.
Our last night in town, we look for a Vietnamese restaurant close to the hotel. Irv’s hungry for a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, but we can’t find them any place. We walk over to the Market across from CircleK, see lots of take-out food, but nothing that calls to us. A small no-name basement restaurant that we passed earlier––maybe Vietnamese restaurant or maybe Thai or maybe just Asian––has no banh mi or any sandwich for that matter, so we share a plate of pad thai and a mango shake. Both good, but we shoulda thought to look for banh mi on Yelp. We stop back at the market and buy hazelnut wafer cookies for dessert.
We leave the next morning on train to Montreal and Holland cruise up the St. Lawrence. Cruises are known for lots of good food and this one meets our needs, but nothing beats the everyday food in Toronto.
Date of Travel: July 2018
Hotel: Doubletree by Hilton