Mika Fresh is a restaurant, bake shop and cafe near Bathurst and Lawrence. Amongst chain restaurants and burgers, Mika Fresh is doing healthy home cooking and baking from scratch that borrows from Israeli, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences.
There are a ton of vegetarian options and daily specials. The place is named after owner Mika Naor who wants to cook for the community the same way she cooks for her children, supported by the backbone of her Israeli background. Mika Fresh also does catering.
The spot is homey like the food, clean and sensible. There are windows all along the front facing wall with ledge seating. The kitchen takes up half the restaurant's space and is completely open, reminding me more of a community kitchen than a hoity-toity eatery.
They bake all their own challah here, and Mika uses her own Israeli recipe that uses way less sugar than North American challahs and completely does away with over-processed vegetable shortening. It sandwiches lamb ($9.50), the meat on rotation today along with beef kebab ($9.50) on rice. The kebab really reminds me of the relation to a meatball, peppery and flavourful.
Soups also rotate here and there's always one meat and one veggie option ($5 - $11). Today there's a Moroccan soup on, with chickpeas, green lentils, white beans, onion, celery, rice and beef. It's super healthy and satisfying, and the beef adds a little pop of heartiness and richness.
The vegan soup is a butternut squash, with seasoning that complements the thick yellow butternut puree.
It's really a mix and match style here, so we put together a plate of some typical options. The sea bass fish patty ($11) sits on top of couscous, herby and fishy with a crunch on the outside in a sweet cherry tomato sauce.
For a vegan option we get Turkish roasted vegetables ($9.50), seasonal veg in a tomato sauce that reminds me of ratatouille on wild and basmati rice. On the side we grab a fennel slaw, which is sour and acidic but creamy and refreshing.
With any meal you get bread and a small dessert, the perfect way to show those baking chops. These breadsticks come in a delicious spicy option.
Mika Fresh bakes a ton of amazing sweets from scratch like authentic rugelach and mamuul ($3 - $3.25 a person catered, or a small bag for $5).
Service is lunch counter style, and though in this area Mika Fresh does a booming takeout business, there are many tables scattered about for eat-in rushes.
Photos by Hector Vasquez