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  #41  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 2:14 AM
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To be honest, I don't know. My wife and I are basically East Asian food aficionados concerned with finding authentic stuff without caring much about decor or atmosphere.
You would die a spaniel's death here in SH, rousseau. It's got to have the best selection of low, medium to high-end East Asian restaurants in the world. There is just so much variety.

One of these days, Shanghai will gets it due outside of China as a truly spectacular food city.
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  #42  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:11 AM
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You would die a spaniel's death here in SH, rousseau. It's got to have the best selection of low, medium to high-end East Asian restaurants in the world. There is just so much variety.

One of these days, Shanghai will gets it due outside of China as a truly spectacular food city.
You know, I'm somewhat ashamed to say that I've never been to the mainland aside from Hong Kong (both pre and post-1997--and I still don't really see it as a standard part of the mainland).

Many friends and acquaintances have told me that their idea of culinary heaven is Sichuan, and I believe them. My impression of Shanghai from afar is that it's a major metropolis (well, d'uh) where all the regional cuisines are represented to great effect.

I must go sometime. Problem is, my Taiwanese wife is very anti-mainland, and wants to go to a thousand other places before ever setting foot in China. So a trip to Shanghai is not exactly in the offing in the near future, unfortunately. Even though even my wife will admit that Shanghai itself is sort of the London of China, its denizens displaying a refinement setting it above all other regions in the country (with the arrogance to go with it, of course).
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  #43  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:43 AM
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This really isn't true. Most of those "fantastic, cheap restaurants" are still charging $10 a plate, which is more than what you'd expect to pay at fast food chains.

Its really hard to beat the value menu in terms of affordability. It usually ends up being cheaper than cooking food on your own.
Agreed.

If you're a cheapskate, like me, nothing beats McDonald's for value. (Most other chains also have deals like that... Taco Bell, for example. But I find it even crappier food.)

McD's has several $1 burgers in the Value Menu. Small fries is also $1 in most states. I am pretty sure that in Quebec there's at least a couple burgers for something like $1.39... last I checked (I don't eat there if I can help it).

For $3 you can definitely have a "meal" over there. No independent restaurant (unless in the third world) can match that.

Of course I wouldn't recommend it too often, but when I'm on the road, that diet (one $1 McDouble) mixes well with the carrots, apples, bananas, peaches, Nature Valley bars, and all kinds of nuts that I'll get at supermarkets. (Fueling up at "Murphy"/Walmart when they're on the side of the interstate = trip inside to the produce aisle.)

At home obviously I won't go for that kind of crap food, but for price, it sure can't be beat.
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  #44  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:44 AM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
You know, I'm somewhat ashamed to say that I've never been to the mainland aside from Hong Kong (both pre and post-1997--and I still don't really see it as a standard part of the mainland).

Many friends and acquaintances have told me that their idea of culinary heaven is Sichuan, and I believe them. My impression of Shanghai from afar is that it's a major metropolis (well, d'uh) where all the regional cuisines are represented to great effect.

I must go sometime. Problem is, my Taiwanese wife is very anti-mainland, and wants to go to a thousand other places before ever setting foot in China. So a trip to Shanghai is not exactly in the offing in the near future, unfortunately. Even though even my wife will admit that Shanghai itself is sort of the London of China, its denizens displaying a refinement setting it above all other regions in the country (with the arrogance to go with it, of course).

I hear ya. It's pretty common for Taiwanese to have zero interest in taking a vacation to the Mainland. My wife is Taiwanese as well, and she likes SH. The rest of China? Not so much.

I was in Chongqing last August, and it goes without saying that the food there is unbelievable. Sichuan province could be separate from China, and stand on its own as a world cuisine with the likes Mexican and Thai.

I'm going to get off my butt, and start taking some pictures of restaurants I like in SH. I've got a bunch of hidden gems that only locals know about. SH is definitely a microcosm of all that is culinary in China. It's easily one of the best reasons to live here.
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  #45  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:48 AM
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I find it kind of funny that you got several Chinese food recommendations so far in the thread... I personally would never have dared
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  #46  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:59 AM
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I find it kind of funny that you got several Chinese food recommendations so far in the thread... I personally would never have dared
Ha! Honestly, Vancouver can go toe-to-toe with a lot of the restaurants here. I'm sure Toronto can too.

I get pretty heavy cravings for Chinese food if I don't eat it for a couple of days, so good Chinese spots are always welcome.


I had this piece of awesomeness in Tainan County earlier this year.

Braised pork belly. A Shanghai dish that Taiwan has made its own.

bomby by matteroffact, on Flickr
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  #47  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 4:40 AM
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^That looks out of control good!

I am getting cravings for cheap Chinese food as I haven't had it in a while. Kind of miss living in East Chinatown and 2am eats.
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  #48  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 6:40 AM
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I really need to make another trip to Montreal and try some of the restaurants there. My one and only time there, the only place I ate was Schwartz's (though that was very much worth it). I never have even had poutine in Montreal.
While I understand it can be a warming food in the cold of winter, poutine has never had specific attraction to me. While I had it on my last visit to Montreal, and I'll likely have it again someday, it isn't something I frequently order or desire to have.
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  #49  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 7:16 AM
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Though I don't have pictures, there are several worth checking out in Kingston, mostly downtown along Princess Street except where noted.

- Harper's - though no relation to our Prime Minister, they have a variety of gourmet burgers. A favourite of mine is their Greek burger, with lamb. Be sure to get the waffle fries.

- Pat's - excellent Cambodian restaurant. Recently moved from Divison & Elliott to Princess near Division. My favourite is their red curry chicken.

- Greco's - higher end Greek restaurant, and a large wine selection.

- Casa Dominica - higher end Italian restaurant, with tempting antipasti and some excellent pasta dishes. Located at Brock and King.

- Sima Sushi - Kingston has a large number of Japanese restaurants, but this one stands out as the best. Jina Sushi (Johnson at University) is also worth checking out, if for nothing else but their green tea.

- Pilot House - anyone I know who has been to England will profess to this being an authentic English pub, complete with great fish 'n' chips and a pint of Guinness. Located at King and Johnson. (Warning: Avoid the poutine)

And if you want late night eats, I look no further than Mr. Donair, right in the heart of the gritty Hub district.

If you like Chinese food, to me it's a three-way tie between East Side Village (Concession and Division), Silver Wok (King & Queen), and Leechee Gardens (Bath Road west of Days Road). Avoid the Cambodian dishes at East Side Village, their specialty is Chinese.

For its size, Kingston has a surprisingly high number of excellent restaurants. I haven't listed Chien Noir, which is supposedly the best restaurant in town, but I've never been so I can't comment on it.

As for London (Ontario)...it's now been a few years since I've lived there so I can't comment too much, but one I remember liking was Waldo's on King, inside the Covent Garden Market.
Great list, some of Kingston's best. I have an aversion to Jina Sushi that's probably not fair: they used to be a different sushi joint called Sushi Q that was notorious for its food poisoning incidents. Have heard from many people that things have improved dramatically since it became Jina but still a little scared... (They also got in trouble last year for hiring foreigners not legally allowed to work in Canada).

Kingston's Japanese craze is a little off the walls (I honestly don't understand how this city can support so many of them!), but I'd like to add in Arisu (Division & Queen), Izumo Sushi (Princess & Chatham), and Aji Sai (Ontario & Johnson) as some of Kingston's best sushi.

Atomica at Market Square is another really good restaurant.. they do fancy pizzas that are really good.

In Ottawa, some amazing places are:
-Kettleman's Bagel in the Glebe
-Hintonburger on West Wellington
-And, a little tacky, but Zak's in the Byward Market makes awesome
milkshakes

Though no mention of Ottawa's food scene is complete without talk of O-Town's amazing shawarmas. I've heard it said that Ottawa has more Middle Eastern restaurants per capita than any other city in the world outside the Middle East, no idea if true. My personal favourite is that little one at Rideau & Dalhousie next to BarBurrito... I think they're called Shawarma Castle.
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  #50  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 10:07 AM
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my montreal knowledge is a bit out of date... but anyway:

i really like taverne dominion square. it's a bistro with excellent cocktails and whiskies, and a great and convivial place to enjoy your moules frites and the like. people will tell you about l'express, but i think it's gone downhill.

i have had some great italian food at nora gray, which is very hearty and a fun place in general.

schwartz's is great, but if you like deli and not just smoked meat, the main across the street has a fuller menu. karnatzel, chopped liver, pickled herring... it's the real deal.

for poutine, you can't go wrong with la banquise but i actually prefer chez claudette on laurier. it's a tiny, 24-hour, 1970s-looking place and the gravy is very marrow-y and salty.

on the high-end, club chasse et peche has repeatedly served me some of the best plates of food along a whole-entire-life-type timeline, but it's a sedate room. couple-y, quiet, reserved.

oysters at maison publique in the eastern part of mile end is a good evening. in the same area, i have had great food at lawrence up on st-lo around there... they had a gnocchi-and-cow's heart dish that was very good and made my girlfriend wince at its ostensible grossness (organs are good though!)

if garde-manger has kept it up, it's not to be missed. amazing seafood, great room, convivial and just top-notch. creative kitchen.

au pied is great if you are capping (rather than starting) your night. chaleureux, sleepy. maybe i just have a bad metabolism or something, but picard weighs me down. so rich and amazing though.

joe beef is a classic, but le vin papillon is macmillan's newest thing and i find chef-owners kind of maintain one standout at a time.

ganadara is really standout cheap downtown korean. i prefer it to even omma, which is ostensibly a higher-end thing. all of the east asian cuisines have a few star representatives in montreal, but there's not the depth you'll see in toronto or vancouver because of demographics. so its important not to just go anywhere.

cheskie bakery in mile end is the sort of thing that is not uncommon in crown heights but which canada has few examples of. black and white cookies, for instance. do not forget that montreal was and is a really key jewish diaspora city. you can't overlook jewish food when considering montreal.

dillallo burger is the best burger, i think. forget those douchy "kobe" places. it's all hype and glossy fabrics. burgers should be cheap.
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  #51  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 10:10 AM
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in ottawa, i liked the manx, play and whalesbone.

whalesbone is a tiny oysters joint, but it somehow has the best feeling. it's very boisterous and open-ended. a lot of people in ottawa dine at oddly early hours, which must be a civil servant thing. it gives the restaurant scene a conservative feel.
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  #52  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 2:48 PM
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in ottawa, i liked the manx, play and whalesbone.

whalesbone is a tiny oysters joint, but it somehow has the best feeling. it's very boisterous and open-ended. a lot of people in ottawa dine at oddly early hours, which must be a civil servant thing. it gives the restaurant scene a conservative feel.
I recently passed Fauna on Bank St at about 10pm on a Thursday and it was still quite busy with diners - I remember being quite surprised.
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  #53  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 2:54 PM
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ottawa has some great restaurants, and i only lived there for a few months in early 2012. maybe my experiences were anomalous, maybe they were the places i went, maybe the time of year... i don't know. i did notice a difference from montreal, but it's good to hear there are exceptions.
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  #54  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:01 PM
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I've just started to scratch the surface of the Toronto food scene...and it's almost overwhelming. So many places to try.
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  #55  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
ottawa has some great restaurants, and i only lived there for a few months in early 2012. maybe my experiences were anomalous, maybe they were the places i went, maybe the time of year... i don't know. i did notice a difference from montreal, but it's good to hear there are exceptions.
I think that your assessment of the Ottawa food scene is pretty good. There are some really good dining options in Ottawa these days and things continue to improve as the city grows.

As you say, it's still a place where people dine out early (even downtown). They even generally dine out earlier in Ottawa than they do in Gatineau!

I think this is not so much an "Ottawa" thing as it is a Montreal vs. the rest of North America thing. With a few exceptions in most of North America people dine out earlier than they do in Montreal and in most of Quebec even.

There are decent-sized areas of a number of cities (Toronto being one of them) where you can find crowds of people dining late, but even in most of these metros the majority of people eat at 5 or 6. Maybe 5 at home and 6 if they go out.

Of course, Montreal and Quebec aren't like Spain or Argentina where people only start trickling in at 9 pm, but diners are sparse at 5 pm in most restaurants in Quebec. Unless it's like Subway or something.

Dining out in most of Quebec is more like 6:30 or 7-7:30.
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  #56  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:15 PM
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yeah, to me the prime hours to reserve a table are essentially 7-8:30, with 6:30 being the early outlier and 9 being the late one. if you go too late, your end-of-meal (assuming a two-hour meal, multiple courses, wine -- a night out) can feel curtailed as the restaurant winds down, but going too early is somehow utilitarian and a bit depressing.

my habits (formed to maximize fun-ness and the conviviality of the room) are essentially those created by the montreal restaurant world, but here in copenhagen it's pretty similar.
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  #57  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:23 PM
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I think this is not so much an "Ottawa" thing as it is a Montreal vs. the rest of North America thing. With a few exceptions in most of North America people dine out earlier than they do in Montreal and in most of Quebec even.

There are decent-sized areas of a number of cities (Toronto being one of them) where you can find crowds of people dining late, but even in most of these metros the majority of people eat at 5 or 6. Maybe 5 at home and 6 if they go out.

I know you're the expert on all things Anglo-North American, but what is this even based on? Most people haven't even left work by 5, let alone have gotten home and had time to make dinner. I think 7:00 is a pretty normal dinner time, even for the uptight Anglos. For restaurants, 6-9 are the generally the peak hours, maybe 7-10 depending on the area.
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  #58  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:25 PM
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yeah, to me the prime hours to reserve a table are essentially 7-8:30, with 6:30 being the early outlier and 9 being the late one. if you go too late, your end-of-meal (assuming a two-hour meal, multiple courses, wine -- a night out) can feel curtailed as the restaurant winds down, but going too early is somehow utilitarian and a bit depressing.

my habits (formed to maximize fun-ness and the conviviality of the room) are essentially those created by the montreal restaurant world, but here in copenhagen it's pretty similar.
My totally unecdotal observations are that most of mainstream North America dines between 5 and 6:30. Quebec is about an hour later on average.

France only gets starting around 7 and peaks between 8 and 9.

Most of the rest of northern Europe is similar to Quebec.

Spain and Italy are an hour or more later than France even. As is Latin America.
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  #59  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:28 PM
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I know you're the expert on all things Anglo-North American, but what is this even based on? Most people haven't even left work by 5, let alone have gotten home and had time to make dinner. I think 7:00 is a pretty normal dinner time, even for the uptight Anglos. For restaurants, 6-9 are the generally the peak hours, maybe 7-10 depending on the area.
People generally eat dinner later in Quebec than on the rest of the continent.

It's not a societal value judgement, just a pretty observable phenomenon to people who travel a lot.

Get over it.
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  #60  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2014, 3:29 PM
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Also, one's own hipster bubble emcompassed by a few blocks of central Toronto is not indicative of the entire GTA, let alone the rest of North America.
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