Hopgood’s is one of my all-time favourite Toronto restaurants. The seafood is excellent and the menu changes often. But I really love it for the nostalgia factor — molasses bread just like Nan used to make, and ‘Halifax’ donairs that evoke the Maritime fast food while being much, much better. I’m sure their desserts are also great, but I can’t tell you, because I always get the homemade crispy toffee chocolate bar. So great.
325 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto. Reservations via Open Table. Closed Tuesdays.
Welcome to Bent
Yellow Tail Hamachi
Beef Cheek Tacos
Tuna Watermelon Ceviche
Crispy Chicken Dumplings
Rack of Lamb
Bent, Susur Lee’s latest endeavour on Dundas Street West, is an interesting place to go with a group of adventurous eaters. Many of the dishes are shareable, so you can try lots of different small plates. I wouldn’t say I loved, loved, loved everything about the restaurant, but it’s generally excellent and the food is fresh and fun. I especially enjoyed the beef cheek tacos (a special the evening I was there), and I couldn’t stop eating the apple salad that was served alongside the spring rolls. The room itself is a bit loud, and the service pace is leisurely.
777 Dundas Street West, Kensington Market, Toronto. Reservations via Open Table. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
This is a recipe we learned at Saigon Cooking Class by Hoa Túc in Ho Chi Minh City. This salad is fresh and light and relatively easy to replicate at home in Toronto.
- 4 tbsp lime juice
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 clove of garlic, grated
- 2 tsps dried red chilli, de-seeded and minced
- 150g beef filet
- 10g chopped lemongrass bulbs
- 5g chopped garlic
- 20ml vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- black pepper to taste
- 15g lemongrass, finely chopped
- 2 kumquats, well washed and thinly sliced
- 90g Vietnamese eggplant, quartered
- 5g Vietnamese coriander, minced
- 100g mustard sprouts (in practice we have used pea shoots)
- 100g mixed greens, coarsely chopped
- 10g Thai basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 10g fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- 15 g sesame seeds
Marinate the beef. Combine lemongrass, garlic, oil, pepper and soy sauce in a dish and set beef to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Grill beef to medium rare. Allow the beef to rest for ~10 minutes before slicing. While beef is resting, prepare the dressing and the salad. To prepare the dressing, mix all ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Chop lemongrass, kumquats, eggplants, greens and herbs and toss gently in a bowl. Plate the salad and top with sliced beef. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and pour the dressing immediately before serving.
Home of the Breakfast on a Bun
On most Saturday mornings, I’ll make a trip to the St. Lawrence Market to do my weekly food shopping. And one of my favourite indulgences is to stop by Carousel Bakery. They are most famous for their Peameal Bacon Sandwich, which is excellent. But my personal preference is the Breakfast on a Bun: Egg, peameal bacon, and processed cheese, topped with some barbecue sauce.
St. Lawrence Market (92-95 Front Street East), Downtown Toronto. No reservations, no dedicated seating, cash only. Closed Monday.
Nom nom nom
Khao Soi at Khao San Road
Khao San Road on Adelaide Street does some brilliant Thai food. They don’t take reservations, and there is always a queue, but it’s definitely worth the wait; they will take your number and call you. If I want to wait over a nice quiet glass of wine, I will head to the upstairs lounge at the TIFF Lightbox; If I want beer on a patio, I will try the Town Crier on John Street.
There isn’t really a poor choice on the menu, but my favourites are the garlic tofu and the Khao Soi.
326 Adelaide West, Entertainment District, Toronto. No Reservations. Closed Sundays and holidays.