The best things we ate last month in Toronto included some real classics: pasta, pancakes and poutine all made to perfection. We dug into comfort food and beyond during the last festive season of the month, and who could blame us?
Here are the best things we ate last month in Toronto.
Canestri alla vodka
Travel writer Meg Cossmann had made a recent girls’ trip to New York before consoling herself with carbs upon returning to Toronto last month, and she knew one place in town that could match the spicy rigatoni she had at Carbone.
“Ever since [our trip], we’ve been on a hunt to find Toronto’s closest runner-up, and while not quite the same, Piano Piano‘s canestri alla vodka definitely is a strong contender,” says Cossmann.
“Its blend of creamy tomato, mascarpone, spicy ‘nduja and chili sauce has the perfect kick, and a topping of Parmigiano adds the right amount of salt to perfectly balance the dish out.”
Strawberry souffle pancakes
“There was no shortage of sugary indulgence to close out 2022 during what is often an unreasonably challenging month to adhere to any diet,” says writer Jack Landau, but he had one highlight to point out from what is one of the year’s sweetest months: the fluffy souffle pancakes that Fuwa Fuwa has become famous for.
“The pancakes basically dissolve in your mouth instantaneously with their trademark cloudlike soufflé texture. Whipped cream, strawberry topping, and powdered sugar add a mix of rich, sweet, and tart flavours. But it was the strawberries themselves that really added the crowning touch, a rare achievement for any fruit consumed in December.”
He also gives a shoutout to Fuwa Fuwa’s Basque cheesecake.
“It can be enjoyed in any social setting, or directly from the takeout box while crying alone in the dark,” says Landau.
Pad si ew
Director of live content Kris Pangilinan recently started a noodle Instagram account and has been feasting on noods around the city, but one particular dish stood out last month.
“This might be the best pad si ew I’ve had in my life. Isaan Der is the only Thai restaurant in Toronto that uses fresh noodles every day,” says Pangilinan.
“Chef Ko Chatsuda told me that it took her years to perfect fresh noodles in Toronto and boy, did it work out. The noodles were wider than the belt I was wearing and had the perfect bouncy chew that makes you forget about the other flat noodles you’ve ever had. Combined with crunchy Chinese broccoli and perfectly cooked chicken, I can say this might be one of the best noodle dishes I’ve eaten in 2022.”
Cauliflower mousse (hassun course)
It’s been a long-awaited return to the newly Michelin-christened Aburi Hana for food editor Renee Suen. The experience unfolded over multiple courses with pristine ingredients and accompanied by tableware typical of the kaiseki tradition, but there was one dish that caught her attention.
“This Yorkville gem is known for the haute contemporary Kyō-Kaiseki cuisine served by chef Ryusuke Nakagawa and his team demonstrates refinement and elegance but also celebrates seasonality at the highest level,” says Suen.
“The hassun course is usually the course that sets the theme of the meal. Normally, it’s a bunch of small seasonal dishes; for Aburi Hana’s winter kyō-kaiseki menu, it was a single delicate bowl of dashi-simmered cauliflower mousse.”
“While simple sounding, the ethereal appetizer was warm, silky and aromatic, plus it was topped with creamy aori-ika (bigfin reef squid from Miyakejima), sweet and unctous botan ebi (jumbo sweet shrimp) tartare, briny pops of caviar and shiso flowers. The combination was stunning. It was an opening act that almost stole the whole show.”
Video host Taylor Patterson had nothing but praise when it came to one of his favourite cuisines served at Toronto’s Pantheon.
“Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for some good Greek food, and Pantheon is definitely a staple in Greek Town but this was my first time having one of their signature dishes shrimp saganaki,” shared Patterson.
“This dish is packed with sautéed shrimp in garlic butter, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and topped off with a lot of melted cheese. I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s a must-try!”
Vegetarian gold kome miso ramen
Writer Lauren O’Neil also bid farewell to 2022 by slurping on noodles at Ramen Misoya.
“This cold weather has me on a hot ramen streak. While my go-to is usually Kenzo‘s Sapporo Miso, I recently realized that everything at Ramen Misoya on Queen West is miso-based. Not only can you find a myriad different ramen dishes made with miso broth, you can find different types of miso broth,” says O’Neil.
“My favourite, however, is the stronger-tasting gold kome miso ramen. Even after I’ve eaten all the vegetables, bean sprouts, noodles, tofu and fried potato (yeah, it’s weird, but it works) in Ramen Misoya’s vgetarian gold kome miso ramen, I’ll keep dipping my spoon in the bowl. I dip that spoon and eat bite after bite of pure broth until I can dip no longer, at which point I will straight up drink from the bowl.”
Reporter Sabrina Gamrot shared a highlight of the pastries, cakes and delicious baked treats from a visit to Emporio de los Sandwiches last month.
“Finding authentic Uruguayan food in Toronto is not an easy task, with a few bakeries scattered across the northern part of the city. But Emporio at Keele and Wilson has been serving up classic Uruguayan baked goods called bizcochos for decades now and I finally got to sink my teeth into some,” said Gamrot.
“Usually eaten for breakfast with a coffee, I got a hefty box full of the cruasanes dulces, a.k.a mini croissants filled with dulce de leche and membrillo (quince paste), cuernitos (dough twists) and galletas dulces (stacked squares).”
Soy milk soft serve with HK French toast
“I ate quite well last year, and while I didn’t expect any last-minute surprises as 2022 came to a close, I wasn’t going to underestimate my visit to this Toronto hot spot, Sunnys Chinese, on the second-last day of the year,” said blogTO’s video editor Aaron Navarro.
“My girlfriend and I ordered a number of dishes. Husband and Wife Beef? Numbing. Hot Cabbage? Delish. Orange Chicken? Yum. But if I could only give one piece of advice for eating at this place, it would be this: save room for dessert.”
“Their soft serve ice cream and black sesame French toast are both truly bonkers. My girlfriend, who typically hates soft serve, couldn’t get enough of the soy sauce caramel. And while you may be tempted to order one or the other, I say you have to order both.
“Their French toast is perfectly layered with black sesame and their soft serve isn’t too sweet. Together, they make the perfect tag team. And if ordering both means cutting back on an appetizer, do it. It’s worth it. You honestly can’t have one without the other. Hot and cold, creamy and toasty. You won’t regret it.”
It may seem humble, but something like poutine can genuinely be one of the best dishes you eat all month when it gets cold and dark out, and of course when it’s this good.
I got a head start on the gravy onslaught that is the holidays when I decided to soak up the beer at Shacklands with some poutine from the hidden gem food cart outside, Fuoco Mio.
Fuoco Mio makes their own fries and gravy, arguably the foundation for any good poutine, and the gigantic cheese curds complete the picture.
Honourable mentions go out to Peshy’s Bakery for their incredibly comforting pine tart (a pineapple pastry) and Da Jiujiu for their complex and layered chili oil that you can put on pretty much anything.