TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Smoked brisket and smoked salmon Mother’s Day brunch

A few days back, I got an email from Tock saying it’s your last chance to order your Mother’s Day specials. Up until that point, I wasn’t planning on doing anything for Mother’s Day, since we’re still in Lockdown Number 3, and I can’t eat dinner for four by myself. But as I scrolled down the list of Mother’s Day meals, I came across this funky little joint in Parkdale called Noble House that was offering up a Mother’s Day brunch for two with a few of my favourite things — beef brisket, pickles and cake. Oh, and smoked salmon, fruit and veggies, too. Here’s what it looks like with everything unpacked and put together:

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Werd to ya mutha! This smorgasbord board of flavour was meant to feed two comfortably, but it’s more like a light lunch in Flavourtown. We’ve got two beef brisket sammies, with plenty of mustard, four giant pickle spears, a fruit tray, container of coleslaw, apple cinnamon coffee cake and some fully loaded lox. You KNOW I think they’re jiggy, bro!!!!

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But first, we’re getting frisky with the brisky. Seeing the smoked brisket on the menu is what made me buy this brunch to begin with. They give you two handfuls of brisket, four slices of bread and more than enough mustard — along with the super-thick pickles and slaw — to make this a decent deli meal by itself. The instructions were to heat the brisket on a low simmer, and while I eventually figured out what a low simmer was, I probably didn’t leave the meat in the pot long enough. Plus, by the time I put everything else together, it wasn’t really warm anymore…but that didn’t make it any less delicious!

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This brunch kit also came with everything you needed for some fully loaded lox. You’ve got two sesame seed bagels, plenty of cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, dill sprigs and capers. And I used up pretty much everything, except for some of the cream cheese and dill. Only thing I’d say is that the Montreal-style bagels with the bigger hole in the middle made it harder to put everything together without a bunch of it falling off. Maybe I shouldda tried to make a sandwich? And I still dunno what I’m gonna do with all that extra dill, dough…

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Around here, it wouldn’t be brunch without ice cold beer. This Live Transmission milkshake IPA from the righteous bros at Flying Monkeys is brewed with orange peel, grapefruit and coconut tea, so it’s practically fruit juice…although a lot hoppier, and heavier, at 6.3%.

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Now the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had coffee cake for dessert. This rich, dense cake tastes like apples and cinnamon, with some icing on top. It was probably enough for two people, but you KNOW calories don’t count on Sundays, bro!!!

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And while that was probably the most fruit I’ve ever ate in my life, and I barely even had room for dessert, I gotta say, it wasn’t a bad way to spend Mother’s Day. Mama, I’m Coming Home, Ozzy Os-bro-ne!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Cinco de Mayo Tacos from Pico de Gallo

Now we’re getting to that weird part of the year where, thanks to COVID, we’ve started celebrating holidays under lockdown for the second time. Not that we really celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Toronto — kinda like how St. Patrick’s Day isn’t much more than an excuse to day drink, Cinco de Mayo is pretty much just a reason to eat tacos. Lots and lots of tacos, bro! So when I saw this funky little joint called Pico de Gallo all over Instagram with their Combo for 2, you KNOW I had to check it out…even if there’s only one of me.

What we’ve got here is your choice of five tacos, either a burrito or a torta, and chips with guacamole, all for 40 bucks. Or, what we call a light lunch in Flavourtown. Now, let’s break it down…

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La fiesta empieza with a chicken adobo taco. I know this looks like it’s about 50% lettuce, but once you get down to the meat, it’s pretty tasty.

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Now, I was gonna get one taco of every different animal on the menu, except that they messed up my order a bit. More on that later. For now, feast your eyes on one of the Top Five fish tacos I’ve ever had, bro! Fish was light and flaky, with a nice crunchy batter, and the pour-your-own donkey sauce really kicked it up a notch!!!

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We’re staying under the sea with a grilled shrimp taco, topped with coriander, peppers and a spicy, smoky salsa. Now, they put four sauce containers on the platter, each one next to a taco, so I figured those were the sauces they were supposed to go with. But man, I probably shouldda tasted this one before pouring the whole thing onto the shrimp. This sauce was so hot, I needed several sips of Honey Habanero beer to cool it down!!!

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Picked this bad boy up from The Beer Store especially for this occasion. Now, I’ve already had a couple habanero beers south of the border in 2019, and one of them was like the spiciest thing I’ve ever drank. So I was expecting at least a little heat from this beer…and I didn’t get any. I didn’t really taste the honey, either. I mean, it was still a nice, light, crushable brew, but if you don’t taste the two things on the label, then I dunno, bro. Maybe I’ll try another can without any spicy Mexican food to see if it tastes any different.

UPDATE: OK, there is definitely more habanero heat when you don’t drink this with spicy Mexican food. Still not as overpowering as the Mango Habanero Oberon, but I am definitely feeling the bern right now…

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But now we’re back on the taco attack, with the best beef tongue taco I’ve ever had, bro! For me, good lengua should taste like the well-done beef at the edge of a prime rib roast, and this tongue was totally on point. Plus, the salsa I dumped on top wasn’t nearly as spicy as the last one…

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Now, here’s where Pico de Gallo dun goofed. I asked for a Taco Al Pastor in my order, but instead of sweet ‘n spicy pork with pineapple, I got a beef brisket taco instead. I dunno if they were sold out, or if they got mixed up cuz I had also ordered a beef brisket burrito, but that’s the breaks, little man.

Adding to my disappointment, this taco was not very good. The brisket was really dry, and all bunched up in a great big clump. Did it help that I had already eaten four tacos, all the chips with guac, and half a burrito before I even bit into this one? Probably not. But if there’s one taco from this combo that I would avoid ordering next time — even by accident — it would definitely be the brisket.

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Speaking of brisket, this burrito suffered from the same predicament as its taco bro. Meat was really dry, but at least the rice, cheese and chipotle donkey sauce made for a bit of a better bite. Of course, I still ate it all…but I kinda wished I had gone for a Burrito Al Pastor instead!!!!

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TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Korean fried chicken on Detroit-style pizza

I’ve been a big fan of Detroit-style pizza, ever since we visited the OG, Buddy’s, in the Big D a couple years back. Since then, it’s totally become a trend, with funky joints popping up all over Toronto like 8mile Pizza and Gianna’s Patties and Pies. But when this joint called Ace’s Pizza opened up earlier this year, you KNOW I had to check it out, cuz they’re serving up this pie in the sky that you won’t find anywhere in the Motor City — we’re talkin’ Korean fried chicken pizza, son!!!!

Now this ain’t your typical KFC — not even the kind you’d find at Yonge & Finch. It actually tastes more like General Tso’s, or at the least the cheap ‘n cheerful version I used to get at the food court. It’s a little sweet, not too crispy, with just a touch of heat. But I kinda wished they’d chopped it up a bit more — those big ol’ chunks of chicken don’t really stay on top of the pizza, especially after you bite into it. The corner pieces weren’t too bad, but the middle pieces were especially messy:

And yes, there is kimchi on that pizza too, which has gotta be a first for me. But even in the bites that didn’t have any chicken, the cheese and sauce was pretty tasty. I feel like I could order a pepperoni, supreme or even Hawaiian next time, and it would be TheBomb.ca. As for the Korean Fried Chicken, though, it’s kinda like when you’re really baked, and ya put chicken nuggets on top of a takeout pizza. I mean, these are both good things on their own, but they just don’t really go together, if ya smell what I’m cookin’…

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Call your mama, that’s a lotta shawarma!!!

Now, I first heard the legend of Me Va Me’s footlong shawarma many years ago…but when they finally opened a downtown location, it wasn’t even on the menu. So when I found out that Shawarmama, this funky little joint on Queen West, was serving up footlong beef and chicken shawarmas, I was all over that like tahini on tabbouleh, bro!!!!

I didn’t break out the measuring tape or nothing, but this had to be the longest shawarma I’ve ever seen. This pita snake is stuffed with seasoned beef, some crunchy onions, a little acid from the tomatoes and a tangy tahini, and toasted to perfection, son! I also made mine a meal, with fries and a drink, for $4.50 more…

Fries were super extra-crispy, which meant they didn’t get soggy in delivery. Plus, I paid an extra 99 cents for some house-made garlic sauce, which is such a smooth move in Flavourtown, bro!!!

Now, they’ve actually got a deal on with Uber (which ends today though), where if you spend at least 20 dollars, you can get a free tub of hummus with an extra large pita for dipping. Dude, I’m not saying this is body by hummus…but if it was, it might be less than 300 pounds, bro. Hummus is smoother than the grocery-store kind, but still nice and tangy. And even after pounding all that pita, I still had like half a container of hummus left, so I might actually have a healthy snack for once!!!!

 

 

 

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Bulgogi Beef Benedict for brunch, bro!!!

Now, I don’t always get up in time for brunch — especially during Lockdown Number 3 — but since the late game on Hockey Night in Canada was between Vancouver and Ottawa last night, I actually went to bed early. And since I had more than a couple beers during the first game on Hockey Night, let’s just say I was a little hungover this morning.

So we’re looking for some classic comfort food, with a bit of a Toronto twist… which brings us to Sisters & Co, this funky little joint on Dundas West that’s only open from 9 till 3, serving up some funky brunch dishes like a Chicken Katsu Club Sandwich, Thanksgiving Chicken and Waffle and Cinnamon Bun Pancakes. But when I saw the Bulgogi Beef Benedict, I was all over that like Calgary over Montreal, bro! You KNOW I love the taste of beef in the morning!!!

Now there’s a forkful of flavour in Flavourtown, right here! The English muffin was a little too toasty, but the nice chew of the beef and oozy egg more than make up for it. They serve the hollandaise on the side, so it doesn’t get too soggy on the way over, and there’s more than enough sauce to go around, son!

Speaking of forkfuls of flavour, I couldn’t stop shoveling these home fries into my mouth, homes! They’re nice ‘n small, with just a little bit of a kick from the seasoning, and there’s almost two forkfuls for every bite of benedict. (This dish also came with a side salad…but hey, if I could substitute the salad for bacon next time, that would be great.) All in all, I’d say this was just the right amount of food for a hazy Sunday morning without making your stomach feel too heavy. Sisters & Co 1, Hangover 0.

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: 50% off Bacon Cheddar Burger!

Now, we’re all about value here on Triple B, so when I found out that Earls was dishing out half-price burgers on Skip the Dishes, I was all over that like Jason Lee’s mustache! Now, for nine bucks, you could get a Bigger Better Burger with fries, but for just a dollar more, you can upgrade to their Bacon Cheddar Burger. That’s about the easiest dollar I’ve ever spent, son!!!

Now, there’s definitely no shortage of bacon strips on this bad boy, and they cook ’em till they’re nice ‘n crunchy, just the way I like it. Combined with other classic toppings — lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, mustard and mayo — on a lightly toasted bun, and that’s some pretty good eatin’ for 10 bucks, bro!!!

Fries were about the same size as McDonald’s, but not as crispy or as salty. Came with a double pack of ketchup — dude, Double Pack of Ketchup was my nickname in Lunch Lady Land — but I still needed a couple more packs of ketchup to finish ’em off. Let’s just say that after 13 months of takeout, I’ve got a whole fridge fulla ketchup, bro!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: One chicken, one pork, and one beef…

Now, for me, sandwiches are like potato chips — you betcha I can’t eat just one, Mark Messi-bro! So when I found out about Makan, this funky little Asian joint at Queen and University, that’s serving up nine different kinds of baos, you KNOW I had to try at least three of them!

We’re starting off with the big, bad, Big Bird Bao, bro! We’re talkin’ fried chicken, cucumber and some hot donkey sauce in between a perfectly plump and pillowy steamed bun. Dude, this is some of the crunchiest fried chicken I’ve ever had! If they ever make a full-sized sandwich, they could really give Popeyes a run for its money!!!

Up next, we’ve got my homie, Notorious P.I.G. (that is actually what it’s called!) Dude, I’m about to go all Suge Knight on this sando, bro! Pork belly is unctuous and scrumptious, with crumbled peanuts and a special sauce — meat just melts in your mouth!!!

Now, we’re about to funk it up another notch with this beef rendang bao. This Indonesian-style curry has shredded beef, with a lovely bunch of coconuts, peanuts and cucumbers. Dude, this bun is like a Slider Gone Wilder — it’s headed straight down to Downtown Flavourtown!!!

Now, while this order seemed to take a little longer (it was a good 45-50 min, and I’m not too far away), the food arrived hot and fresh, so they definitely took their sweet, tender lovin’ time. And it was really tasty, too! Only thing is, just three of these sammies makes for a pretty light lunch in Flavourtown. I could slam at least six of these bad boys — and still have room for dessert!!!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Totally PHOsome Vietnamese triple beef combo!!!

Dude, you KNOW this is body by beef, bro! So when I found out that PHOsome, this funky little Vietnamese joint on Parliament Street, was serving up a $15 combo with three different kinds of beef, I was all over that like rice on noodles!!!

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We’re starting off with a fistful of grilled beef rolls, served with lettuce, mint, carrots, bean sprouts and vermicelli noodles, with some house fish sauce on the side. Dude, this is like Spring Rolls Gone Wild, bro! Probably the most veggies I’ve ate all week, but when you wrap ’em up with beef…man, I could eat, like, three orders of these!!!

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Up next, we’ve got a couple of steak skewers. Meat was super tender, with a light teriyaki sauce, along with some shaved carrots and onions, which I ended up dumping in my pho, for extra flavour…

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Now, this soup had some assembly required. The broth came steaming hot in a plastic container, while the rest of the ingredients were in a separate takeout box. Oh, and it was BYOB — bring yer own bowl, bro! You had to get down, get down and stir it all around to give the rice noodles a chance to separate, while the beef brisket was pre-cooked, and didn’t need to be heated up. You’ve also got a nice crunch from the onions, withe the basil and coriander kicking it up a notch. I also dumped my leftover fish sauce from the beef rolls into the broth, which made it super-tangy towards the end…

Dude, this soup alone will normally set you back 11 bucks, so getting it with two starters for 15 is like a five-finger discount in Flavourtown! Of course, it was closer to 25 bucks when you add the taxes, fees and delivery tip…but even at that price, it’s a pretty PHOsome deal, bro!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Super spicy chicken biryani!!!

Now, it’s been over a year, and I gotta say, all these takeout and delivery dishes are starting to add up. I mean, once you add all the service fees, delivery fees, taxes and tips, you end up spending like 40 bucks just for a medium pizza, bro! So when I come across a place with some great, everyday deals, you KNOW I gotta get in on it. King Palace Restaurant has been dishing out Indian food across from the Toronto Reference Library for decades, and even in the era of Uber Eats, you can still get meat with rice and a drink for just 12 bucks, bro!!!!

This chicken biryani was exactly 12 bucks, coming in hot and tasty — delivery took just 30 minutes. Now, whenever I order Indian food, I always ask for mild. Dude, I dig the flavour, but can’t really handle the heat. (Let’s just say I’m a Whiter Shade of Pale, Bro-col Harum!!!) But this place doesn’t give you the chance to choose your spice level, which means that the food is…probably not mild. The first few bites didn’t seem too bad, and that mint yogurt sauce probably helped, but after a while, I was really feelin’ the Bern. I’m gonna be in a whole House of Pain tomorrow, bro — Peptocopter to the rescue!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: This really nice burger needs some really big rings!!!

Now that Toronto is into State of Emergency No. 3 like a bad Lou Bega number, let’s just say I’m not getting a lot of exercise these days. So when I saw that The Irv, this funky little joint in Cabbagetown, was serving up a Dad Bod Burger, I was all over that like a fat dad on a Smartie, son!!!

These are a few of my favourite things, right here. You’ve got blue cheese, bacon strips, caramelized onions and a whisky-glazed BBQ sauce, all on top of a thick, juicy patty. This burger is sooo outta bounds, it almost held a gathering of more than 10 people, bro!!!

The only thing that brings it down a bit is the thin, weak bun that was completely soggy by the time I opened the box. So instead of a 10/10, it’s maybe like a 9…

Now, when I saw you could upgrade from fries to house-cut onion rings for just two dollars more, I was all over that like a fat dad in a Speedo, bro! And man, these were like, seriously, some of the best onion rings in Toronto. They give you about a full onion’s worth, with a thick, doughy batter that really kicks things up a notch! I mean, like there are 3-4 bites of onion ring for every bite of burger in this takeout box…not that I’m complaining!!!

Man, the last time I had rings this good was in Buffalo…but who knows when I’ll even be allowed to go to Buffalo again, bro??? 😦 😦 😦

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