Brock Sandwich ~ 1260 Bloor St W ~ (647) 748-1260

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Brock Sandwich is a place that needs little introduction. Tucked away on one of my favourite sections of Bloor West (between Dufferin & Lansdowne), they have been winning awards and piling-up the accolades over the past year as the best place for sandwiches in the city. I had the pleasure of visiting recently with the babe you see in the window (@giggsysays). Great food; great company; return visits on the horizon. We only wish this place had existed when we lived on Lansdowne back in the day.

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We order-up a couple of sandwiches, both deep-fried. The Crispy Chicken ($9) is a generous portion of southern fried thigh meat, lathered in homemade Piri Piri Sauce and then absolutely smothered in fried onions. Their Pork Schnitzel ($10) is currently my favoutite thing on the menu… in part because of its dill/caper/pickle grabiche; in part because of the bed of spicy collard greens. This sandwich truly is a thing of beauty. We both agreed that one of the more memorable surprises was that the buns did not become a soggy, inedible mess. Even the leftovers held up (though they didn’t make it home before my stomach intervened).

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There are a number of other utensil-free options available, including (but not limited to) a $10 Cheeseburger & Fries combo. This is a great burger at a price-point most other places seem to be exceeding these days. Sides include slaws, soups, salads and spuds.

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Due to Brock Sandwich’s popularity and limited seating, it’s advised that you order ahead for pick-up to cut down on waiting times… especially around lunch hour. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys are serving-up craft beers by the next time we visit. That will be very soon, btw.

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Kaiju ~ 384 Yonge St ~ (647) 748-6338

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In the basement of the city’s tallest condo lies one of the city’s smallest food courts. It’s really nothing much to speak of. At first glance, one might actually miss Kaiju (tucked away in stall 51). If the PATH ever reaches Aura, this location could become a hot spot. For now, though, Kaiju is gaining notoriety with its Asian mash-up cuisine… specifically their curry dishes. This place is an excellent addition to the Ryerson lunch scene, and I find myself driving over from east of the Don at least once a month for lunch. My goal is to try everything on the menu.

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The name of the game at Kaiju is really the Katsu Curry ($8). Their homemade curry sauce is made from over 14 different ingredients, and simmered low-and-slow for 2 days before serving. Panko-crusted cutlets of the chicken or pork variety are deep-fried to order, sliced thin and served atop the curry sauce (spiced to your liking). This dish looks, smells and tastes great. It’s truly line-up worthy.

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My second visit saw me venture out to try new things on the menu. Their Malaysian Fried Sambal Udon ($8.50) is a real hit. I order it “Kaiju Spicy” and am presented with an extremely generous serving of extra spicy fried udon noodles, tossed with sambal, onion, fish balls, bean sprouts, carrots, red pepper and sliced chicken breast. My lunch date ordered the Thai Spicy Chicken ($8.95), which is served crispy and boneless, drizzled with a sticky chili-peanut sauce. This is a great dish for sharing or ordered as a sidecar. 

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Many moons ago, I lived in Australia and played on a travelling Japanese baseball team. We would have a rather large meal after every home game. This is when I was first introduced to Katsu Curry. Naturally, when I heard about Kaiju, I really, really wanted to love this place. I have to tell you, they have yet to disappoint. I’ll be going there again this week for a Friday lunch. Next up: Taco Rice!

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Stock-in-Trade ~ 1272 Danforth Ave ~ (416) 792-5059

SIT Sign Stock-in-Trade is a new butcher shop located on Danforth just east of Greenwood. Owner Jason Becker is doing a lot of interesting things with the space, and he and his team are pretty cool, knowledgeable people. They source, prepare and serve properly-raised, hormone & stimulant-free meat and incorporate it into everything they do. This place is a very nice, very needed addition to the neighborhood… helping it transform, one sausage at a time. SIT Butcher Their $6 sandwich board keeps me coming back. Piri Piri Fried Chicken, Pastrami Melts and Braised Pork Belly Hoagies are a few that are in regular rotation. They even do a Tofu Sandwich that’s so good, it’s turned out to be my wife’s favorite. Imagine a butcher shop nailing the tofu! My go-to, though, has got to be their take on a Cold Cut Combo… Smoked Kielbasa, Speck, Country Ham, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions and house sub sauce on a garlic-buttered crusty roll. Good stuff! SIT Sub Stock-in-Trade also hosts a Supper Club twice a month, after hours, right in the shop. $55 per person gets you a four-course, family-style meal featuring the best meats and seasonal produce available. Seating is intimate (limited to ten), and it’s BYOB with no corkage. Needless to say, it sells out pretty quickly. SIT Logo Butchery Classes are also offered for both beginners and vets alike. Covering everything from Sausage Making to Low-And-Slow (braising, stewing and roasting), these classes are offered a few times a month (after hours), and you can even BYOB (just watch your fingers). Pricing varies and includes all your supplies as well as your finished products to take home.

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Toronto Food Blog App

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The Toronto Food Blog now has an APP that can be downloaded for free at the APP Store.

Big thanks to my brother Chris for development. Check it out here:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/toronto-food-blog/id919746678?mt=8

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Hokkaido Ramen Santouka ~ 91 Dundas St E ~ (647) 748-1717

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The Ramen scene in Toronto right now is much like a wildfire: out of control, with little left to burn and nothing left to prove. I traverse the abundant supply by (re)affirming one simple demand: best broth available. So for me, it’s a no-brainer… when I get that ramen hankering, or just need a bowl of soup because my daughter’s daycare has provided me with yet another cold, I go to Santouka Ramen for the broth.

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Served Hokkaido-style, the broth is derived from pork bones that are simmered for 20 hours before adding the veggies, dried fish, kelp, pickled plum, bamboo shoots, kikurage (pickled seaweed), cha-shu (pork rib) and, of course, ramen noodles. I gotta say,  Santouka Ramen would be near perfection if only they pulled their own noodles. But I digress, as it’s not really the noodles I’m after.

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Ordering is pretty straightforward. First you pick your broth… Shio (salt), Miso (soybean paste, served mild or spicy), Shoyu (soy sauce) or Toroniku (with toppings served separately). Then you pick your size (large is only $1 more). Then you decide if you want to make it a combo (served with one of the house salads). For me, it’s very tricky not to order combo 21, as it comes with a sidecar of Ikura Gohan (a rice bowl topped with salmon roe). It is a bit steep @ $17.95, but well worth the splurge once in a while; perfect for a casual business lunch.

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Using the exact same cooking methods in all 54 of their restaurants around the world since 1988, these guys are obviously doing one thing really, really well. The Toronto Food Blog recommends trying this place out if, A,  you’re craving ramen; and/or, B, if you’re in the proximity of Yonge & Dundas Square and are looking for something decent to eat. I can say with confidence that these bowls of soup truly are line-up worthy… even if you do find yourself queued-up outside “against the wind.”

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The P&L Burger ~ 507 Queen Street West ~ (416) 603-9919

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Who doesn’t like a good hamburger? Seems everyone I know has at least one go-to place that’s in regular rotation. These allegiances are often tied to both history and physical geography within the city (Burger Shack and Square Boy come to mind for me for instance). When I want to head out of my “zone” and splurge on something a little more top-shelf, I go to P&L Burger.

This place needs little introduction (and probably doesn’t need much more press). A quick run-down… the fellas over at Parts & Labour took down CMT’s Burger Wars (my wife and I saw the episode and were left drooling). They’ve rolled their successes into a number of different ventures, one being a stand-alone shop on Queen Street West dedicated solely to the hamburger.

Their namesake, the P&L Burger ($9 ~ pictured below), is 7 ounces of Canadian brisket, covered in Cheddar,  Iceberg Lettuce, Dill Pickle Mayo and a sublime Bacon-Onion Jam. Cooked medium (though mine is often served medium-rare… which is fine with me, btw), it’s so satisfying that I needn’t order any sides (Fresh Cut Fries, Kale Caesar Salad, Onion Rings, Poutine and Coleslaw are all options). There are half-a-dozen burger variations on the menu (including a veggie option); though, I never order anything other than the P&L (without substitutions). This place transcends my aforementioned point about history & geography and currently resides atop my list of favourite burger places in the city.

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Completo ~ 5 Coady Ave ~ (416) 901-9233

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Completo is a new(ish) sandwich shop that has evolved from a stall in Kensington Market to a Leslieville storefront (where Le Matin Bakery used to be) on Coady Ave, just north of Queen St E. There’s seating for our party of five at the counter inside. We decide instead to sit on their patio and enjoy one of the last warm afternoons of the year, wishing they had a liquor licence.

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The menu consists of a variety of Chilean street foods… everything from Empanadas through to their name-sake…

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Named after a type of elaborately-topped Chilean hot dog, Completo’s version leans towards what can be loosely-translated as “Italian style”, (consisting of chopped tomatoes, mashed avocadoes and mayonnaise) presumably due to its resemblance to the Italian flag. This is a delicious taste, and my Chilean friend Priscilla says it’s authentic in every way… though the $7 price tag would buy you half-a-dozen in Santiago.

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Boxes ($9) are built on a bed of fresh-cut French Fries, topped with Fried Eggs, Salsas and your choice of Beef, Chorizo or BBQ Pork. Sandwiches (also $9) are filled with your choice of BBQ meat and gets covered in a generous amount of diced tomatoes and smashed avocado. My BBQ Beef Sandwich looks a little smaller than advertised, but it more than makes up for it in the taste department. Something this rich needn’t be much bigger (imo).

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Completo is a nice addition to the Leslieville lunch scene. I’ve given it high-praise in recent conversations (and blog posts) for being both different and delicious. We see a few orders being hand-delivered to neighbouring businesses, and a small line-up starts to form as we’re finishing off our Fries. There are a few veggie options, and all taxes are included in the price. It would be great if they’re licenced next time patio season comes around. I am sure that they could move more than a few Pisco Sours if they were on the menu.

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