Tag Archives: calamari

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Whole pile of Thai-style squid!!!

Now, to be honest, I’ve been ordering a lot more delivery than takeout… hey, I don’t wanna get the Camaro dirty, bro! But when Uber Eats gave me a code for $10 off an order — as long as I pick it up — that means I’m heading on over to Salad King, this funky local Thai joint that’s been serving it up since the early 80’s.

This place is known for super-spicy food, with its choose-your-own-chili level of heat. So when I saw that this squid dish called Sea Queen was “already a bit spicy,” well, I’m just glad they put the sauce on the side!!!

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Now, it might not look like much in those little containers, but this is actually quite a lot of food. Squid is nice and chewy, lightly breaded and seasoned, and it turns out the sauce isn’t too spicy. And then, for another six bucks, I got three super-sized spring rolls. You definitely get your money’s worth here, bro!!!

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PATIO LIT EATS: Three-course, real-deal Italian meal!

Man, it feels like Toronto is the last place in the world to reopen after this Coronavirus! But finally, last night, restaurants were allowed to open across the city — for patio dining only. So, it’s time to bust out the Kim Mitchell, cuz you KNOW I’m gonna be the first to eat, bro!!!

We’re breaking the seal at Blu Ristorante, this classy Italian joint in Yorkville. They actually just moved into new digs on Avenue Road, in a space that used to be Estia (another Italian joint), with a great front-porch patio. Now, especially for a Wednesday night, this place was packed — we had to wait about 20 mins to get a table. But what’s 20 minutes when I’ve been waiting three and a half months for this???

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We’re starting off with one of my personal favourites, grilled calamari, on a bed of mixed greens with olives, capers and pepperonata. These actually came with seedless olives, so you didn’t have to spit the pits out onto the plate — that’s some solid social distancing in Flavourtown! But the squid was cooked perfectly; not too firm, but not too chewy. I usually like my calamari like my chicken (fried), but I definitely can’t complain about this dish!

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And then we’re going for another real-deal Italian meal… say hello to ma lil’ friend osso buco, served over risotto with a chunky tomato sauce. Now, the last time I was here, I had a killer veal chop, so I know they know their way around baby beef — but this meat was so fall-apart tender, you didn’t even need a knife to cut it! And don’t let the super-close-up fool ya — that’s a pretty big hockey puck of flavour in Flavourtown!!!

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Now, the sun went down before dessert, so the patio lights really added an extra spark to this picture. They were all sold out of my first choice — tiramisu — so I went with panna cotta instead. I think I ate this little slab of gelatin in 4-5 bites…but after all that osso buco, I really didn’t need much more than this.

Kamayan III: Kamayan with a Vengeance

Now, it’s been a couple years since I last had Kamayan, the Filipino feast you eat with your hands. But when I heard about this new funky joint called Bagnet Bros, I knew I had to come check it out! This place is serving up stuff like milkfish, tilapia, mussels, shrimp and crispy pork belly, all for just 16 bucks. They’ve even got both kinds of calamari — grilled AND fried!!!

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Now, the pork skewers were outrageous, the milkfish was creamy and delicious, and the peel ‘n eat shrimp were the most fun you can have with plastic gloves on…but what makes it is the bagnet:

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Dude, this deep-fried crispy pork belly is sooo outta bounds, bro! It’s kinda like a chicharron, but with the meat still attached! Man, I could pound these all day…but then I might not have room for dessert.

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They call this a turon, and they tu-ron-ron, son! Picture a sweet ‘n sticky spring roll, stuffed with deep-fried platanos — this dish is bananas, and bananas is good! The 16-dollar dinner comes with your choice of ice cream or turon, but for just a dollar more, you can have both…

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No way Jose, that’s ube!!!

Fried chicken ‘n fried calamari @ Eastside Social

So, we’re hanging out at Eastside Social, this funky little joint on Queen St E that’s kickin’ it East Coast style with all kinds of seafood. You’ve got octopus, ceviche, crab cakes, poke…and these crunchy onion rings of the sea, fried calamari:

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Not gonna lie, this was some of the best calamari I’ve ever had. The squid just melts in your mouth like buttah! Batter is crispy, but not too heavy, you’ve got some zest from the lemon, and a nice chimichurri aioli. I would put that on a flip-flop!!!

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Of course, because one fried thing deserves another, we’re going with the fried chicken. These weren’t the biggest pieces of bird I’ve ever had, but throw in a chipotle hot sauce and a nice potater salad, and I definitely can’t complain…

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SUMMERLICIOUS 2019: Big, beefy burger @ Batch

Now, I’m no stranger to paying 38 bucks for a burger, so when I saw that Batch was serving up its signature Batch burger, plus two other courses, for just 23 dollars, I was all over that like beef on a bun, bro! Their Summerlicious menu starts off with apps like salad, tomato soup, peas on toast…or these fishy flavour nuggets in Flavourtown, fried squid:

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This I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-calamari comes served on a bed of basil and a smoked tartar sauce, and the breading’s got a bit of a kick. They were quite tasty, but aren’t calamari supposed to be round?

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Now, me and this burger are a match made in Flavourtown Heaven, aka Austin, Texas. Patty is nice and thick, cooked to not-quite medium, and topped with swiss cheese, pickles and a bit of lettuce — the meat to veggie ratio on this bun is just the way I like it. And then you’ve got a great big pile of some of the thickest fries I’ve even seen — these are like three-bite French fries, bro!!!

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Now, you know the first rule of Summerlicious is “Always save room for dessert,” and I’m definitely gonna go with the most chocolatey thing on the menu:

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This chocolate tart was packed with dark-chocolate richness and some hazelnut crunch, but I don’t really get the frozen orange stuff on top. (Mine was a little pulpy.) Still, I gotta say, it totally satisfied my sweet tooth!!!

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Of course, because Batch is a craft brewpub, you KNOW I’m not gonna order a Coors Light, bro! This Creemore Springs Boundless IPA was a nice balance of hops and citrus, with just a little bit of sweetness at the end. Maybe they couldda poured some of this on that chocolate tart instead…

Tacos and spring rolls and ceviche… Oh Mai!

So, we’re hanging out at Mai Bistro, this funky little family joint in the West West End–we’re talkin’ bout Etobicoke, bro! Now this place takes Latin food, they take Asian food, they put the lime in the coconut and mix it all up! With so many of my favourite foods on their tapas menu, I almost don’t know where to start… Oh yeah, how bout with some curry lamb spring rolls?

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Dude, this dish is like a Bollywood Kung Fu double feature in Flavourtown! You’ve got the richness of the curry, wrapped up in a deep-fried wonton, and dipped in chili sauce??? Shut the back door!!!

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Now, at this place, they’ve got both kinds of calamari: grilled AND fried! But why grill anything when you can deep-fry it, dude???

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And now, it’s totally time for tacos, bro! These shrimp tortillas are grilled with chipotle, and then they throw down some mango, avocado and pico de gallo… It’s a party in my piehole!!!

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Of course, you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert–and we’re chowing down on some ceviche, son! Who needs chocolate cake when you’ve got shrimp and crab???

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Now, up to this point we’ve had some Mexican, we’ve had Italian, an Indian/Chinese fusion and Peruvian. So why not end off with some Japanese fried chicken karaage? It’s around the world in 80 bites, bro–and it’s all right here, at Mai Bistro!!!

$33 freeky Greek feast @ Pan on the Danforth

Everybody in Toronto knows that the Danforth is the place to go if you want some real-deal Greek food. And I’m definitely no stranger to the area. Whether it’s the BBQ quail and Greek fries at Astoria, the four-pack of lamb chops at Mezes, or the bitter balls at Borrel…OK, so that last one’s Dutch, but my point is there is plenty of great grub in Greektown.

Now, I’ve heard that one of the best, most authentic Greek joints in this city is Pan on the Danforth, but I’d never been there before. It can be hard to get a table sometimes, cuz they’re packing ’em in for their Panlicious Dinner–three courses for 33 bucks, bro!!!

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So, we’re starting off with some lightly breaded, deep-fried calamari, so hot you gotta wait a couple minutes before you pick ’em up. Lemme tell ya, there are few things I love more than deep-fried squid, and these squid are too legit to quit!

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But you know that was just the first course in Flavourtown! We’re moving on to the braised lamb shank, which is my go-to at Jimmy the Greek…but this one’s, like, 10 times better! The melt-in-your-mouth meat falls off the bone and slides straight down my piehole, while the orzo pasta in a tomato broth is like risotto gone “Opa!” (Smashing plates not included.)

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Now, I kinda hate to admit this, but I actually did NOT have room for dessert. So I had to get this piece of Greek ravani cake to go. The sweet semolina with syrup on top, some chopped almonds and blueberries still tasted good for breakfast the next day, though!!!