Papyrus is an Egyptian retaurant cooking up classic eats from the region and a totally vegetarian menu.
Just a few steps from Chester station, this sit-down spot and takeout counter serving tahini-doused dishes is part of a new wave of non-Greek businesses arriving to this stretch of the Danforth.
It has a pretty lean menu of traditional foods that date back thousands of years. According to Papyrus' owner, Amr Elimam, koshari—a 200-year-old layered street food—is likely the most 'recent' dish of them all.
Though grilled meat like lamb and beef is quite common in Egypt, many of the dishes in this northwestern African country are largely plant-based for a variety of reasons, including the large Coptic Christian community, who eat vegan for many months at a time due to religious fasting.
The king of all these dishes is probably the ful: which is made from mashed fava beans, olive oil, tahine, and a hint of lime.
You can either get it in a sandwich ($7.50) or on a platter ($13.99) with Egyptian salad, a hummus made from lentil, and bread.
Not to be confused with falafel from the Levant are Egypt's version: ta'ameya, made from shelled fava beans.
Slightly different in shape than falafel, these deep-fried balls have a crusty interior coated with sesame seeds. Inside is bright green, thanks to the mix of fresh herbs. You can also get it in a sandwich ($7.50) or a platter ($13.99).
It doesn't get more Egyptian than the country's national dish: a plate of koshari ($11.99).
This popular street food comes with rice, lentils, and a surprise layer of macaroni. Meant more for texture than for taste, the pasta is then coated with a spiced tomato sauce, onions, and some garnish. Chickpeas are placed on the side to make the dish resemble a compass rose.
Rice plus pasta is not necessarily my favourite of combos, but the koshari is enjoyable nonetheless. I stored it overnight in the fridge and actually liked it even better the next day.
Kunafe is always tasty: you can get it by the slice here ($6.99), or get something called the Bird's Nest.
Forgoing the cheese for a handful of pistachios, these tufts of kataifi noodles are deep-fried and then doused in orange blossom syrup for a totally vegan treat.
The mastic ice cream ($8.99) is another sweet way to get to know Egyptian flavours.