With Toronto being one of the most multicultural cities in the world, what defines its signature dishes is the combination of specialties from around the globe. Toronto’s dining scene can take you to any part of the world that you want to get a taste of. The city lets you explore the food of different cultures on any budget and with a short travelling distance any time you desire.
Since students come to York University and Toronto from all over the world, the diversity of food the city offers not only lets students venture out to other cultures, but also revisit their home country. We at the #YUBlog have made a list of some of our favourite restaurants in the city. I have personally been to all of these places with my international friends.
As much as I’d like to try food from all 195 countries in the world, this post will only be looking at five. Make sure to stay tuned for other editions where we visit more countries while staying in the city!
The first country I want to take you to is my home country, Vietnam. One of the things I have always missed the most about my country ever since I came to Canada is the food from home. During my first year, I went on a quest to find a restaurant in Toronto that has the most authentic flavour of the signature Vietnamese Pho – and I finally found one.
Pho Xua at 1768 St. Clair Avenue West impressed me right away with their amazing interior décor. The slightly dark colour scheme with a touch of traditional paintings reminds me of a more modern version of the Old Towns and Old Quarters in Vietnam. Just the atmosphere that the décor generates alone makes me feel like I am back home already. However, that is not the only thing that makes Pho Xua my favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto. The actual taste of the dishes there is spot-on to what I had for the first eighteen years of my life that I spent in Vietnam.
The moment I had my first bite of the Rare Beef and Well-done Pho Noodle Soup with Chinese donuts was the moment my friend knew I had succeeded in finding the most authentic Vietnamese restaurant after five months in Toronto – she could tell from my overly excited facial expression. The warmth of Pho and the cozy atmosphere I experienced that first time I visited Pho Xua really took me back to my sunny city despite the Canadian winter and flurries going on outside. Every time I feel homesick, I can just hop on the subway and I am able feel like home even though I am nearly 8000 miles away.
Moving northeast, our next stop is South Korea and its famous flavourful dishes. The place that gets it right in the eyes of my South Korean friends is Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu.
The first time I visited Buk Chang Dong Soon was with a Korean friend and she recommended we get the Bulgogi Soup with Hot Stone Pot Purple Rice. Believe me when I tell you I can still taste this dish months after eating it. The slightly sweet and spicy flavour of the Bulgogi soup takes away the saltiness from the beef, but leaves behind the incredibly flavourful seasoning of it. The flavour comes from soy sauce, sugar and pear juice. My friend said the atmosphere in Buk Chang Dong Soon felt like her mom making Bulgogi in her house in South Korea. With the constant flow of customers coming in and out of the restaurant, it truly feels like a big family gathering over comfort food.
Now let’s hop on a puddle jumper to Japan and try some ramen! Japanese ramen has noodles served in flavoured broth with meat or vegetables as toppings. It is one of the world’s best comfort dishes, especially for cold weather, of which there is no shortage here in Toronto.
My favourite ramen place in the city is Konjiki Ramen, and it is also the most highly-recommended ramen restaurant among my Japanese friends.
Konjiki Ramen stood out not only the first time I tried their food, but also the second, third and fourth times I visited. A friend of mine said the main component of ramen is the broth, and the broth at Konjiki is made the traditional Japanese way, which is to let it simmer for days. This takes a lot of time and effort because it’s a complicated process, but Konjiki definitely has that right.
Toronto has a large Pakistani community and therefore a wide selection of Pakistani restaurants. I remember the first time I ever tried naan was at this one restaurant in Toronto and I was so impressed by it. A week later, my friend from Pakistan took me to Karahi Point, which according to her, has the most authentic Pakistani food in the city.
Karahi Point is very convenient to get to and like Pho Xua, the interior décor makes it seem like you are eating in someone’s home, not to mention the food takes you right back to Pakistan, according to my friend. She ordered beef kebabs, chicken tikka masala, naan and mixed vegetables for two people and it was more than enough for us both. I feel like the secret lies in the sauce of each dish, considering the fact that something as simple as mixed vegetables also impressed me a lot!
Let’s take a trip to Europe and try one of Hungary’s tastiest desserts! Hungary is home to the famous Chimneys, also known as Kürtőskalács in Hungarian. These will not disappoint you.
Inside each Chimney is a different ice cream flavour with a different variety of toppings depending on which flavour you choose. My friend suggested I try the Tiramisu cone and she got the Matcha Crunch cone. I would compare the taste of the chimney to a combination of a bit of a cinnamon bun, a bit of ice cream cone and a bit of donut glaze. The Tiramisu cone was sweet, but the tenderness from the ice cream balanced the whole dessert out. With my friend’s choice, the slight bitterness of real Japanese matcha and the sweetness of the cone made an excellent pair. You can also build your own. Eva’s also has vegan friendly options, so if you want to have a healthier version of this superb Hungarian dessert, don’t sleep on Eva’s Original Chimneys!
Hopefully this post has encouraged you to try out food from different cultures if you haven’t already. If you are from Hungary, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea or Vietnam, maybe these places will make you feel like you’re at home! I know that Pho Xua definitely made me feel that way. For other beautiful parts of the world, stay tuned for upcoming editions of this series where we will take you on trips to even more countries!
Did you have any recommendations on any great domestic or international restaurants in Toronto? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @YorkUStudents!