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The best things we ate last month in Toronto

The best things we ate last month in Toronto helped us ease into 2023 by satisfying cravings for eggs Benny, pizza, Japanese, and South Indian food. These were some of the dishes we tried at the start of this year that we feel really deserve a shoutout.

Here are the best things we ate last month in Toronto.

Popcorn chicken

While this dish may sound humble, it comes from an extra special location of Chester Fried for director of multiplatform content Kris Pangilinan, especially due to their unique addition of Filipino food to their menu.

While the popcorn chicken at Rose's Chester Fried isn't necessarily a cultural treasure, it's certainly an unexpected gem in the city.

"Ask anyone who has lived in St. James Town in the last two decades and they will know about Chester Fried. They will also most certainly recommend you try the popcorn chicken. The small bite-size pieces of dark meat chicken, deep fried to the perfect crunch provide a burst of flavour in your mouth," says Pangilinan.

"Whether you eat it on its own or with a sauce such as ketchup or gravy (I prefer Mang Tomas All Purpose Sauce) you won't be disappointed. A small box goes for under $4. But be warned, they do not skimp on the portion size and the box will not close. Pair it with a side of white rice and you've got yourself a meal. You'll be extremely satisfied."

Udon carbonara

A fusion of traditions caught social video reporter Tiana Jayatunga's attention at the new Little Italy brunch restaurant Ohiru. She loves Japanese food and enjoyed being surprised by this take on breakfast.

"Even though carbonara is a little more lunchy than brunchy, it definitely works. The thick and soft udon noodles take carbonara to a level that it should have always been at. They also add an onsen egg which is sous vide to give it that perfect softness that bursts when mixing it into the carbonara," says Jayatunga.

"Plus, an egg is pretty brunchy, right? Lastly, they add their bacon pieces in, a side of fluffy toast and all together, it’s a brunch comfort food creation that I never dreamed of."

Ox tongue Benny

When social videographer and editor Anton Wong hit up Alchemy's second location in Richmond Hill, he also had a novel take on brunch that incorporated an unexpected protein.

"It might sound a little weird for an Eggs Benny to have ox tongue, but it was a lot more savoury than I anticipated," says Wong.

"The creaminess of the egg yolk really tied it all together, with the English muffin there to soak up all the juicy goodness."

Beef roast with porotta

When social video reporter Briana-Lynn Brieiro checked out Scarborough's Idduki Gold, she was blown away by this South Indian dish that has convinced her everyone should be visiting this new takeout restaurant.

"They've curated a menu of popular dishes from Kerala, a coastal state in southern India. All of the dishes I tried were amazing, but their beef roast immediately won me over. I was advised to eat it with porotta, a crispy flatbread that also made me weak," says Brieiro.

"I could eat both of these items individually and be perfectly content, so combining them together made for a delightful meal. Something that I don’t typically do is eat with my hands, but because it's a common practice in this culture, I decided to give it a try. To be honest, I think that made it taste even better. Highly recommended, do not sleep on this place."

Aphrodite pizza

Bar Neon has always been a go-to hangout of mine, especially when a reservation is needed for groups of friends. They've always been known for their Greek food, but more recently have introduced brick-oven pizza to the menu. 

After having an early evening hang at the bar one night last month, I ended up sticking around for dinner and decided to order the Aphrodite pie topped with lamb sausage, Kasseri (a traditional Greek cheese), fig mostarda, caramelized onion, bechamel, oregano.

Even if you only have room for a couple snacks and not a whole pizza, you also can never fail with the smaller bites like oysters, calamari, tzatziki, feta fries and spanokopita at this standby.

Sculpted chestnut dessert

In honour of Lunar New Year and Fete Chinoise which celebrates modern Chinese culture, food editor Renee Suen attended two events at the Shangri-La which served some festive seasonal offerings.

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"Pastry chef Calvin Wat is a magician when it comes to the whimsical desserts he creates from chocolate, dairy and fruit. I was already familiar with his show-stopping fruit-shaped entremets from his time at Michelin-starred Enigma where they would arrive at the table in a custom-crafted copper tree stand. 

"I ended both meals with his beautiful hand-sculpted chestnut dessert. Aromatic and sophisticated like the finger-friendly fruit-shaped entremets you'd experience in the hotel’s intricate afternoon tea, here a crack of the dainty palm-sized dessert’s crisp chocolate shell revealed the interior that was filled with swoon-worthy chestnut cream and silky Earl Grey mousse."

"The icing on the 'cake' was the fact it was served with rum ice cream on sesame soil and a marron glace (candied chestnut)."

Mandarin buffet

Who can deny the timelessness of one of the city's go-to buffet spots? Reporter Sabrina Gamrot wasn't one to resist when she started off 2023 with a recent visit to the classic spot.

"There is nothing I love more than a buffet, including the classic staples at Mandarin," says Gamrot. "This plate includes all of my favourites: lemon chicken, golden fried wings and the iconic plain soft noodles."  

Lead photo by

Kris Pangilinan

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