Here are some Toronto finds from last week's long
weekend trip. On the advice of friends there (and
here in NY), the "usual suspects" like Canoe, Avalon,
Jump, Scaramouche, Senses etc. were all bypassed.
We did have a very nice dinner at Jov Bistro -
1701 Bayview Ave., Ph: 416-322-0530.
They strive to be more of a neighborhood place than
going after press. It's a small space and gets very
crowded. We got there too late to try the bakery
called Rahier a few doors down (anyone who has been
there, please report).
However, the most exciting meals were had at the Asian
malls in the outskirts of Toronto (Scarborough,
Markham, and Richmond Hill).
We had terrific Vietnamese at Saigon Star -
330 Highway 7, East Richmond Hill. Ph: 905-731-7221.
The clientele is close to totally Chinese and
Vietnamese, a good sign. The waiter recommended a
wonderfully pungent hot and sour soup with shrimp,
pieces of pineapple, bean sprouts, and sprinkled with
deep fried shallots. The broth was light, unlike the
goopy stuff at Chinese restaurants.
Our favorite was the dungeness(I think) crab in a
curry sauce. It made for messy eating but it was
Other favorites were the superbly cooked grilled black
cod over white noodles and lettuce; oysters baked in
their shell smothered with a garlicky sauce; rack of
lamb (beautifully medium rare) with a mint dipping
sauce; a hot and spicy fried noodle that reminds me of
pad Thai; and the Vietnamese coffee and jackfruit
After Saigon Star, we drove to Xian Zong Lin -
4350 Steeles Ave., Market Village Mall, Markham.
This is a Taiwanese bubble tea and snack place. It
has a young teenage crowd, with disco, rap and raggae
music all in Chinese -- quite amusing. We had bubble
tea with huge brown tapioca pearls, and also lychee
juice with tapioca and "healthy jelly". Our dessert
was a triple-thick white bread toast slathered with
condensed milk (other toppings include strawberry,
chocolate and peanut butter).
We returned to Market Village to try the Malaysian
Satay Ria (right across from Xian Zong Lin).
Unfortunately, most of the meal was a bust. The roti
canai was quite good. The satay meat itself was ok,
but the satay sauce was criminal!! (the restaurant's
name should be changed). One bright spot - they do
serve an excellent Singapore-style laksa with a
coconut milk based curry broth, instead of tamarind
based (Jen Kalb... are you following this?)
In Toronto itself, we came across Vanipha -
193 Augusta Ave. Ph: 416-340-0941 , in the Kensington
Market area. It bills itself as a Lao and Thai
restaurant. There is a fancier one called Vanipha
Lanna on Eglington Ave. We only stopped for a quick
bite for lunch, but from what we tried it certainly is
worth a return trip. All 3 dishes we ordered were
excellent - nham dip (Laotian salad roll stuffed with
vegetable or chicken with peanut sauce); khao glum
(black sticky rice and black beans steamed in banana
leaf packet); and very spicy fried noodles.
On the last morning, we had the most fantastic dim sum
in recent memory at Dragon Dynasty -
2301 Brimley Road, Scarborough. 416-321-9000
I understand the owner is one of the managers at the
fancy Lai Wah Heen. An astounding array of dim sum
comes by in the carts. Six of us spent more than 2
hours trying all sorts of dumplings and snacks (some
of which I have not seen here in NY). There are even
4 dumpling stations you can walk up to and get it
cooked to order. ** GO EARLY, plan to arrive by 10:30
AM. Although it's a huge place, it fills up fast and
the people do tend to linger. It helps to go in a big
group so you can try everything that comes. **
P.S. The Malaysian (Satay Ria) used to be named Bunga
Raya, and had a terrific chef Howard. If any Toronto
chowhound knows where he is cooking now, PLEASE post