Toronto Eats: Kub Khao

The opening of Kub Khao Thai Eatery in Scarborough is a game changer. Before this, good Thai food used to be something we had to schlep to the downtown core for, all while suffering through interminably long subway rides, incessant track work delays or slow-moving streetcars. But not anymore! Now we get to contend with the bus system!

Presently, Kub Khao is in a plaza at Birchmount and Sheppard with a striking view of the gas station. Scenery aside, this little restaurant and take out spot, promising lemongrass-scented coconut curries, caramelized grilled meats (the kind with the burnt crispy edges–yum!), pad thai and noodles, warm soups (khao soi, tom yum) and all sorts of heavenly goodies (fried chicken, curry puffs, chicken toast, etc), has so much variety on the menu that it’s almost impossible to settle on just one thing. This means repeated visits will be very, very necessary.

Am I already in love with Kub Khao? Yes. Yes, I am.

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Late lunch at Kadbanu

The light at Kadbanu, an Iranian café and kitchen on Dundas West, is a dream. By the time we finished our meal–lovely, hearty stews with some sharp pickles–I was determined that my own kitchen would need to have white and blue tiles. I really can’t get over how bright and fresh the space was. If you’re in the neighbourhood, it’s definitely worth a stop. Have a Persian chai and enjoy.

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Gheymeh – Split peas with beef shanks stewed in tomatoes and dried lime.

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Ghormeh Sabzi – Fresh herb stew with red kidney beans and beef shank.

Kadbanu
771 Dundas St. West | Website

Visiting P.E.C.: Lunch at Drake Devonshire Inn

With a scenic view of Lake Ontario, fun outdoor art installations and quirky decor, Drake Devonshire Inn has the look and feel of a modern country house. It’s hip, it’s stylish and the food is as cozy and hearty as Prince Edward County itself.

Since opening its doors in October 2014, it seems like a trip to Prince Edward County–a charming and pastoral wine region in Southeast Ontario–would be incomplete without a meal at the Drake Devonshire. And for good reasons too. With a scenic view of Lake Ontario, fun outdoor art installations and quirky decor, this Drake Hotel outpost has the look and feel of a modern country house with food as cozy and hearty as Prince Edward County itself.

During a late afternoon meal, having missed brunch by one minute, we shared the House Salad (with scallops), the Devonshire Burger, the Smoked Chicken Pot Pie–a light take on the usually thick and creamy pot pies–and a Crispy Eggplant Parmesan Sammy, my favourite sandwich yet, finishing with the Steamed Chocolate Cake.

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Eggplant Sandwich

Chocolate and ice-cream.

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All in all, it was a lovely late lunch in PEC. With a belly full of food, we were ready to take on some wineries. More about that next. 😉

Montreal: Les 400 Coups Restaurant

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Eaten back in August for a bridesmaid dinner: Tomato gazpacho, salmon with pickled green strawberries, beef cheeks ravioli, lamb with mint purée, and an assortment of sorbets (rhubarb, peach, strawberry and blueberry), finishing with some petits fours and marshmallows. If all dinners could be at Les 400 Coups…!

Les 400 Coups Restaurant
400 Notre-Dame Est, Montreal | Website 

Montreal: Boulangerie Hof Kelsten

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Another great Mile-End bakery and cafe in Montreal.

The breads are not as varied as at Boulangerie Guillaume, but the open space and good coffee makes it a nice stop for a croissant break. As it turns out, owner and baker Jeffrey Finkelstein‘s breads can also be found in notable Montreal restaurants such as Joe Beef and Toqué!. (During our last visit we spotted some Joe Beef guys!)

Boulangerie Hof Kelsten
4524 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal | Website

Ihaw-Ihaw at Kanto by Tita Flips

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A few years ago I had the pleasure of eating Filipino food for the first time at Diona Joyce‘s Kanto by Tita Flips, one of the many bright food stalls at Market 707 on Dundas and Bathurst streets. If like me you haven’t had a lot of experience with Filipino food, I couldn’t recommend a better person to visit. Everything we’ve had at Kanto has always been carefully prepared, and the flavour combinations blows my mind each time; there’s always the right amount of sweetness and/or acidity that balances out. So far at Kanto we’ve had the lechon (roast pork), sisig (offal, boiled and grilled and then turned to crunchy bits) on top of fries, ukoy (squash fritters), balut (fertilized duck egg), lumpia sariwa (vegetables rolled in very thin crepes), and palabok (noodles coated in golden shrimp sauce).

Last summer, Diona introduced ihaw-ihaw, grilled and barbecue foods (usually meat and seafood). I missed the whole thing because I was away for school, and I almost missed the summer ihaw-ihaw again because of work this year. But the last ihaw-ihaw–don’t you love that word?–coincided on the first week I didn’t have to work late. There were some skewers on special, but my eyes were big and my stomach hungry, so we ordered the prix-fixe. It came with grilled fish, pork, chicken, squid….and an unlimited supply of garlic rice, salads and calamansi (Filipino lime) iced tea. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the day.

If you missed the ihaw-ihaw this year, make sure to check it out next summer!

More about Kanto by Tita Flips on my old blog and visit to TO Food Fest 2013.

Kanto by Tita Flips
707 Dundas Street West | Website 

Montreal: Boulangerie Guillaume

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If you ever find yourself in the Montreal neighbourhood of Mile End do yourself a favour and make your way to Boulangerie Guillaume for a truly spectacular display of bread and baked goods. It’s our little Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of French bread and pastries.

Leo and I try to go there each time we visit Montreal, and we’re slowly eating our way through their shelves. So far we’ve had their little pain filled with fig and cheese, a hunk of rustic loaf filled with more figs and peppered with hazelnut, mini pain au chocolat that are too cute for words, a traditional baguette, good old butter croissants, and the poppy seed loaf. To the staff of life! 

Boulangerie Guillaume
5132 Boulevard St-Laurent, Montréal | Facebook

Montreal: Flyjin Coffee

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A small, but irresistible coffee shop hidden on Rue Saint-Pierre in Old Montreal. We popped in on a Saturday afternoon, needing a bit of a cool down, and ordered a cappuccino and iced tea to go.

Flyjin Coffee
Suite 102, 417 Rue Saint Pierre, Montreal | Website

Montreal: Kem CoBa

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Kem CoBa is an artisanal ice-cream shop in the ever so hip neighbourhood of Mile End, Montreal. It’s next to Fairmount Bagel, a great tactical move on the owners’ part, and serves up a wide range of flavours from around the world with a slight bent towards Southeast Asia. Between my three friends and I, we tried about seven different flavours: Soursop, Pandan (La Dua), Chai Tea, Crème Fraîche, Dulce de Leche, Mango, and Passion Fruit! (My soft serve was dulce de leche ice-cream and a mango sorbet.) After what seemed like a trek to get there — and in Montreal’s heat, walking for longer than 15 minutes becomes a struggle — it felt rewarding to just sit under some shade, eating heavenly churned cream and ice. 

Kem CoBa
60, av. Fairmount Ouest, Montreal | Website

Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake

I had Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake! And it was good. The secret is to line up at eight in the morning. EIGHT IN THE MORNING. Even then, my friend only waited a mere 45 minutes — as opposed to the minimum two hours. So there you go, that was a pro-tip for your next attempt at acquiring Toronto’s latest fad.

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Before tasting it, I had balked at the idea of waiting so long for a six-inch cake, but I kinda get the appeal now. It’s very different from North American cheesecakes. It’s lighter and fluffier, many have said it’s like a cross between a sponge cake and soufflé, but it’s also very subtle tasting — plain tasting, I guess — which I liked.

Come August I imagine the line to the bakery will more than double as Uncle Tetsu will soon be introducing a matcha version of the cheesecake. (Can we just have a collective groan?) So, Toronto, there is no hope of the queue dying down by the end of summer.

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