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Sri Lankan in Toronto/Scarborough

Try Canbe. Its only take out, but wonderful. You might aim to go on a weekend when you can buy a lamprey.

Biriyani Heaven

I've been as well, but was waiting for a second visit before a post. But based on a first visit, its spectacular. The spices are perfectly balanced and freshly ground. The rice absolutely bursts with masala. I went there after a long morning event with tons of talking, so I was incredibly thirsty. Still, the first bite of biryani won out over water. And, then, I just wouldn't drink until the flavours faded. That was a long, blissful (and thirsty) few minutes.

Is Scarborough the dining capital of the world?

Hi Googs,
Happy to lend a hand. Can you check the UTSC group out online and we can tell you a bit more about the mapping and mobile work we're doing with Scarborough foodways? Just drop an email if you like!

Is Scarborough the dining capital of the world?

As someone who teaches food studies at UTSC, I'm loving this conversation. In case anyone's curious, he ate at: Canbe (mutton rolls); Bella's Lechon (Sisag); Remely's (pork with blood sauce; lechon); Saravana Bhavan (masala dosa); Xinxiang (lamb and dill dumplings; hand-pulled noodles). Chuan-yu was the next stop, but one can only eat so much...Watch this space, so much more food programming at the UTSC!

Chow Talk: How Beer Travelled the World: Free Public Talk and Tasting at UofT Scarborough

Some of you might have heard but the UofT Scarborough has a new and rather exciting food studies centre with a whole host of public events, like this one. Its free, open to the public, and Chowhounds are especially welcome! There will be a free tasting after, sponsored by Mill Street Brewing (By the way, the speaker Jeffrey Pilcher is the world's leading expert on the history of Mexican food and a new professor at the UofT.).

Talk Title: How Beer Traveled the World
Speaker: Professor Jeffrey Pilcher
Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC

Abstract: This talk examines how European beer traveled the world over the last two hundred years through networks of trade, migration, and colonialism. The talk concludes by comparing the recent spread of craft brewing to earlier migrations of beer.

When: Monday, November 24, 4:00-5:30
Reception to follow
Where: Ralph Campbell Lounge (380 Bladen Wing), University of Toronto Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail
To register for this event please go to:

This event is sponsored by the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC; Culinaria Research Centre, the Department of History, UTSG, and Mill Street Brewery.

Culinaria Research Centre:

New bar Danforth bar/restaurant Local 1794??

Try Kairali on Kennedy between Lawrence and Eglinton in the old El Pulgarcito spot. They are absolutely fantastic with the classic dishes from Malabar.

Bihari Kabab and Biryani House

The serving sizes are pretty reasonable. Not overly huge. Not tiny. The biryani had a lot of meat. I've eaten at Makkah a lot. (We live nearby.) I have found over the last five years that Makkah's spicing is a bit out of sync and that the masalas are not as well balanced. Personally, I like that the kabobs at Bihari Kabob are much better -- and I still enjoy those at Makkah. In terms of spicing, the gola kabab is spicier than the bihari kabab, but not searing. My young child enjoyed the nihari and chole (i.e. not chili-hot). Actually -- and this is high praise indeed -- the spicing was in good proportion. That is, the chili heat carefully balanced by other spices and the silky textures of meat and gravy.

Bihari Kabab and Biryani House

It's there. Really. It's hard to find but very much worth the search.

The Bihari Kabab and Biryani House is tucked away in an impossibly badly designed strip mall (at the corner of Morningside and Sheppard) and it only has a door-sized storefront. Walk down a small hallway to a windowless room for the best South Asian kababs I've had in the city. I've been a few times (mostly to take out) and it's superb. (To put in comparison: the only kababs in the city that come close are at Patna Kabab. Iqbal, Pak Centre and others don't have the freshness of toasted spice or the tenderness of beef, lamb, chicken, or goat meat.) Given where the owner is from (Patna, in the state of Bihar), the Bihari kabab is touted as a house favourite and deservedly so. Bihari kababs sit somewhere on the edge of minced and shredded meat, a balance few restaurants can achieve. Here, they are perfect; spiced effectively and smooth on the tongue. Other kababs are every bit as good. I particularly like the gola kabab (a unique kabab in this city). These rounded kababs of minced beef again achieved the perfect balance of fresh spice and tender meat. But don't get carried away by the kababs (and fresh, tangy naan). My wife and I adored the haleem and nihari. Haleem, by the way, is a long, long slow cooked stew in which the meat (lamb or beef) and daal dissolves into a thick gravy, spiked with ginger. This is a dish that depends on patience. It must be tender enough to fall apart into a gravy and the spices must be toasted and ground and carefully applied. I've eaten this a lot in Toronto, Delhi, and Hyderabab. No place in Toronto has done it this well and I would have been delighted to eat this version in India. It's spectacular. In our house, I head for haleem; my wife for nihari, another long, slow meat dish. She remembers it from the famous Kareem's in Delhi. Again, we've searched it out often in Toronto. Many places cheat and plunk meat into pressure cookers to get the tenderness. But, done this way, the absolute silkiness of the gravy, the natural oils emulsified, is lost. The version here is truly wonderful (thankfully the haleem is so good, I'm not switching allegiances). The meat is perfectly tender, just enough toothiness that it gets a chew or two before it melts into the silky sauce. Many places in Toronto make up for the deficiencies of gravy by over-spicing. Not here. the balance of masala and natural meat flavour was just right. Beyond these, I thought the chole, redolent of fresh ginger, a carefully prepared pure-veg dish. This is one of the few places that does a goat biryani and we liked it a great deal. A lot of good and gamy goat meat balanced tender rice; its raita was freshly made.

There is a lot of pride at work here; no short cuts; consistent quality; carefully applied masalas; and patience in producing rather hard to make dishes. The first time we took out, we called immediately to give them complements. We waited to try them again and again before posting. It's terrific.

Bihari Kabab and Biryani House
1145 Morningside Ave,
ON M1B 0A7
Phone : 416-281-4259
Email :

Beggar's Chicken [split from Ontario]

Wonderful dish. Chinese, though, I don't really know the regional origin. A whole chicken, with lotus nuts, wrapped in lotus leafs and then sheathed in clay (these days, mostly a hard dough is more common) and baked. The clay hardens as it bakes and makes the chicken marvelously soft and perfumed with the lotus nuts. Ate it throughout my childhood on the special occasions and I miss it.

Jul 31, 2011
duckliver in Home Cooking

Beggar's Chicken

I have a hankering for a really good beggar's chicken. Does anyone have a suggestion of where to go to get the very best?

Goan Food and Shrimp Curry! -- Where in GTA??

Last time we checked (late summer) they had closed down and someplace forget-able (not Goan) had taken over, but didn't say that they were different over the phone. Have they reopened (he asks with enormous hope)? We've been stuck with caterers which are great, but don't have the range of Dom's. Dom's was, well, sublime.

Good Pakistani/Indian Halal Restaurant

I would without hesitation go to Mr. Chilie's on Lawrence! I've written about them before. I've used them for catering before and it is universally superb and for your budget you'll get amazing food!

Mr. Chillie's Chowfind!!

I went with a South Asian friend to this wonderful new Pakistani restaurant in one of my favourite eating streets in TO: Lawrence Ave. East. On a great street in one of the best parts of the city for South Asian cooking, Mr. Chillie's is a MUST visit. I was amazed from beginning of a great (and inexpensive) meal to the end.

We began with parathas stuffed with a lightly spiced potato mixture nand served with a lovely, fresh mint yogurt. This is normally a breakfast item. It was piping hot, just cooked by the 'mom and pop' team. The meal moved at a nice leisurely pace, with everything coming out freshly cooked.

We moved on to a terrific lamb quorma, very different (and vastly) superior to other versions in the city. As with all the dishes, this one highlighted perfectly cooked meat and freshly toasted and ground spices. Haleem was a silky meat and cracked wheat porridge of sorts. Simmered for hours to a soft consistentcy, it is finished with slivers of chiles and ginger and fried onions. Heaven on a rainy evening and not too spicy. All this was eaten with some of the best nan I've eaten: hot and brushed lightly with ghee. Just the perfect touch of sour, crunchy crusty bubbles combined with the a spongy texture.

The real treats of the night were two dishes you'll only find here: one is khageena, the second is nargisi kofta. THe first is always on the menu. It is a soft, smooth kebab minced up and pan fried. Beautiful. The star of the evening was special ordered (but we're told is going to be a weekend special). The nargisi kofta is a round meat ball cut in half to reveal a hard-boiled egg. It was served with a fragrant sauce redolent of the most delicate spices. Our vegetables needs were well served with delicious chickpeas and a curry of mixed veg.

It's a small mom and pop place, as I say. Just a few tables...frankly they should be full.

Delighted to recommend and hope people give it a try: The address is 3256 Lawrence Ave. East and the tele is 416-289-4104.

La Porte!

Thanks for the review! Do they have a website, by the way?


As promised then, our review! And thanks to Patty Choux for giving the array of dishes, so we'll just highlight a few things that mark out a very mature style. We both felt that the kitchen knew how to keep a dish clean, what flavours to match, and what ingredients to highlight. A few examples: bread and butter came with an airy dip of pureed celeriac, cauliflower, and white truffle. It soared. The onglet (also known as hanger steak). This isn't the easiest cut to cook;cooked too much it becomes liver-y and tough. This incredibly meaty piece was cooked perfectly, nut a second too much or too little. Accompanied by a delightful chestnut fritter, the dish knew exactly what to focus on. As I mentionned above, what impressed me most was -- even this early on in their life -- the menu held together with a visible and original style.

They get a huge amount of credit for cooking with two difficult, though local fishes: pickeral and perch. The pickeral, in particular, cooked sous vide was exceptional with its natural sweetness exentuated. The perch was valient, but the fish itself just don't excite.

A few other things to highlight: we'll have to wait through the winter for this, but there is a roof patio. The liquor license is supposed to come, they told us, probably by Friday. In the meantime, we were treated to a superb pairing of wines--frankly, I would have paid a lot for these wines happily. The matchings were smart and creative. The 98 Henry of Pelham reisling was a good example of an aged Ontario wine but didn't quite live up to a lovely torchon of La Ferme foie gras with the perfect parsnip chip accompaniment. But, a chablis (seriously---giving this away for free!?) just sang with the oysters. A fantastic syrah worked perfectly with the steak and a pinot noir from Burgundy (no less) paired with the pickeral. Dessert brought a Sauternes and a creative trockenauslese (a German sweet wine from dried riesling grapes). Starters came with a delightful Champagne. Refills were given without even a subtle hint. The message was clearly made with this pairing: this is a serious place for food and wine (they will have, to start, about 30 wines by the glass!) and they want to be a local place that will appeal to foodies.

A postscript about the space: nicely done. It doesn't portend a 'to be seen' place and, hopefully, the high ceilings won't make for noise. A bar up front will offer tapas and a nice touch is a small bar ("chef's table") by the open kitchen--I'll be reserving this one next time!


We promise a longer review later tonight, but (for those making dinner plans), we had the set menus last night and were really impressed. Its an ambitious food-forward place that (despite the name) is serious about Ontario and Quebec ingredients. I don't know if they are still having the set menu this week but its well worth a phone call. Food was really superb, service was excellent, and the (complementary!!) wines were magnificent. Dish by dish reviews coming soon!


It is on Lawrence at Warden.


If you are lucking to buy oysters to take home and shuck yourself, I LOVE Diana's. They have a huge selection of oysters that are some of the best I've eaten (raw, obviously). They'll even let you try'em. Look for belons!

Remezzo in the wilds of Scarborough...quick review

Completely agree on Zen. We ate there over the weekend for the first time and were really impressed, especially with the range of appetizers, including perfectly broiled yellowtail collar.

ISO: Watermelon Radish

Funny you ask. I saw them just this morning at golden orchard (I think that's the name--it's the organic greengrocer in the middle of the top floor at St. Lawrence.) I've never seen them there before so better hurry!

Bodega, Messis or Eggplant?

I'm not a huge fan of Messis. I've been there a lot (for work), but I find the food stuck in a phyllo-wrapped time warp. The food is consistent, but not very good. Uninspired, really. I'd go next door to 93 Harbourd. Quite nice. Quite interesting.

Not Frontera/Frontera

VI and others,

as a firsttimer in chicago, I would love to hear names of some of the lesser known regional restaurants for Mexican food. Esp since I am from Toronto, a great food city, but not for this. I'd especially like to have recos for a moderately priced, friendly place where I could take some Indian friends visiting the university who are not too well-off, but who love good food. We'll be staying near the Loop/River North, and they will be somewhere near Hyde Park.

Sep 05, 2006
duckliver in Chicago Area

"BBQ in Atlanta?" a Canadian asks

I'll be coming to Atlanta for a conference in a few months and am beginning to think of places to eat (I imagine this takes some serious research). Can someone offer a primer (with suggestions of places) about Atlanta dining, specifically is their a local BBQ speciality? Are there noteworthy places I should visit?

Jewish deli...

Does anyone have a good suggestion(s) of where I can find my childhood favourites (smoked whitefish, challah, pickled herring). I especially interested in stores, not restaurants...

Le Club Chasse et Peche - a review (longish b/c it was unbelievable!)

It sounds like the perfect honeymoon diner! I know exactly how you feel. My partner and I went there and had such a wonderful meal we felt like laughing with pleasure. Every bit of the meal, from the tongue in (cod) cheek decor to the owners gathered around our table to talk about an inexpensive bottle of wine to the creative, lovely food makes this a restaurant these Torontonians envy...And, happily, we went into the (spotless and organized) kitchen afterward. Wonderfully humble chef!


Now that Cafe Brussels is gone, what do people think is the best place for moules frites in the city? I know that there was division on CB, but I do find myself wanting good Belgian moules frites? Suggestions?

Little India - best place to buy groceries?

Iqbal grocery is somewhat nearby. Very fresh and hard to get veg and fruit. Fantastic meats. Try the restaurant next door if your there!

Ma La Beef Tendon

I love the thinly sliced beef tendon bathed in the spicy, mouth-numbing ma la sauce that one gets at Shanghai restaurants. I have plenty of recipes for the Ma La sauce, but nothing for how to prepare beef tendon (which I can get from markets here in Toronto). Does anyone have a recipe!? I'm THIS close to having as much beef tendon as I can eat...

Jul 29, 2006
duckliver in Home Cooking