Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi Boys, the place I’ve oft heard about but never been to. On par with Burrito Boyz and Smoke’s Poutinerie for after-clubbing eats. BMB is situated on Queen West, just west of Spadina and I finally convinced boyfriend to go there for dinner. This proved to be the best decision I could ever make. Having known myself for 22 years now, I should have known walking in, that we would pretty much “accidentally” order everything on the menu.

We started off with two Banh Mi, the restaurant’s namesake. For those who don’t know, an original Banh Mi (which means bread or sandwich in Vietnamese) is a kind of Vietnamese sandwich served on a crusty baguette, has various unidentifiable meats and pâtés in it, topped with pickled radish, pickled carrots, cilantro, and chili peppers if you’re feeling feisty. We got duck confit, and pork belly, and just having one each would have filled us up enough without all the other things we bought. These were really good. Warm and meaty, it’s a nice mix of western and eastern cuisines. I liked them alright, but I think I prefer my original banh mi to these (which you can buy for $2.50 up the street) but that’s okay because they offer some other great things on the menu.

This is the beef cheek steamed bao. I love beef cheek because it is always so soft and moist, and this one had a great smokey flavour to it. Topped with cucumber, cilantro, and pickled radish and carrots, it’s stuffed in a steamed bao pocket. In Chinese, it’s called a “siopao” and in Vietnamese, a “banh bao”. It’s a white steamed bun that’s like a bread, but spongy, airy, and slightly sweet.

We move onto the tacos and I am a sucker for coleslaw. We ordered a squid taco and a kalbi beef taco and it came with all the fixings of a banh mi with the addition of the coleslaw and kimchi. Kalbi beef is a korean style short rib beef. It’s got a sweet flavour which contrasts well with the tanginess of the coleslaw and pickled carrots. Very yummy, very messy to eat. The three types of sandwiches are pretty much the same in fillings, but you can change up how you want it served: as a banh mi, a taco, or a steamed bao.

I saved you the best for last though, because this is what the people really come for:

Kimchi fries.

The perfect french fries topped with perfect pulled pork and perfect kimchi, as well as mayo and a bunch of green onions makes this dish, well, perfect. It’s like a poutine on steroids. The crispy fries compliment the soft, sweet pulled pork compliment the crunchy tangy spicy kimchi that makes this something you must try when you visit Toronto. You won’t find it anywhere else in Toronto, and any imitations  are just that. Imitations. Cause nothing comes close to the perfection of this dish.

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Porchetta & Co

Oh sweet, succulent porchetta. This place is just beyond amazing. Porchetta is a fatty boneless pork roast that is seasoned with many different herbs  and then cooked in a way that the outside is crispy, light and the inside is melt in your mouth tender. So good that even Anthony Bourdain came in for a bite.

The ciabatta bun is stuffed with 4 oz of porchetta, crackling, and topped with (Kozliks) mustard and frank’s hot sauce. This time I chose to get some bitter rapini on top because I love rapini. When people come to Toronto, they’re always talking about that damn peameal bacon, the prized sandwich of Hogtown. But let me tell you, this porchetta sandwich is SO much better than peameal bacon, and let’s just say, I have too much experience with peameal.

Let’s get back to the porchetta sandwich. The bun is soft and fragrant. The meat is soft, but the crackling gives that satisfying crunch. Boyfriend of course got his piled high with mushrooms and added a bunch of extra mustard on top. Biting into this monster is one of the most satisfying things. I can only wish to have this sandwich every day. :)

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Scaramouche

Scaramouche is one of my favourite restaurants, partly because it’s so expensive that we can’t quiet afford to eat there very often, meaning it’s such a nice treat when we do get there. Whenever I get to hang out with the boyfriend, I get to throw all my diet worries away and indulge, indulge, indulge. Above is the view from the south windows of the restaurant. I had been wanting to come here for a very long time since seeing their famous Coconut Cream Pie in an issue of Toronto Eats (arguably one of my favourite magasines) and so for my birthday in June, boyfriend finally took me! And it was so good that he made me promise to take him for his birthday too. And well, here we are.

They start off every dinner service with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I actually can’t remember for the life of me what this is, I think it might be some sort of salmon, but these are just to whet the appetite. They are cute, dainty, and leave us drooling for our meals!

My appetizer this time was a decadent dungeness crab ravioli (24$). The pillows were ultra light and melted completely in your mouth. The light tomato-based sauce was creamy and very rich. So good that we ended up dipping some of the complimentary bread into it so as to not waste a single drop. The crab was light and yet so intense in flavour. There were only a few raviolis, but as this is a french restaurant, small portions are expectant. I don’t care though because every bite is one of those movie moments where you close your eyes and just savour it.

The steak tartare (18$) topped with crostini and watercress, surrounded by a caper mustard. The first time we came, I just had to try the steak tartare because I’d never had a tartare before. Once it reached the table, boyfriend got super jealous because he didn’t know what tartare was but he looooooves his meat raw, or as close to raw as possible. The tartare is so delicious, nice and peppery, with a kick of spicy mustard, and the meat is just so soft and tender.

This was the lamb (46$) that we had last time, but since I hadn’t made a post, this is where I display it. Lamb is usually my go-to dish just because I love the richness of it with the light gamey flavour. The meat was topped with a classic mint pesto and served with goat cheese whipped potatoes. Everything was just so lovely and yummy. I love the arrangement of everything on the plate so that there are endless combinations of things to eat, each ingredient enhancing the flavours of the others. And oh my, how delicious and smooth those potatoes were.

Another reason I had wanted to try this restaurant was because they served elk/venison (46$), a meat that I had never had before! This meat was like a cross between beef and lamb. Super tender, a light gamey flavour, yet has the presence and sturdiness of beef. They were also wrapped in bacon, and really, who doesn’t like bacon. Plated on a bed of baby spinach, a lot of different types of mushrooms, and beets. Oh man I love beets. There was also a mustard cream that  tasted almost like really creamy quiche. I honestly don’t know what to say about any of these dishes because they are all just on a very high level of wonderful cuisine.

This time, boyfriend chose to stick with a standard filet mignon (47$). The meat was, of course, cooked to a perfect medium rare. It’s served alongside green beans (which are sitting in the beef gravy. This is where you swoon) as well as porcini whipped potatoes. Let me tell you, this restaurant has got their potatoes DOWN. They’re light, full of flavour, and not at all overpowering. I probably stole half of his potatoes, and quite a bit of his green beans too. Sharing is caring.

Of course the first time we went, we had to have the coconut cream pie (13$). The crust is flakey to a fault, the pie sitting on top of some beautiful chocolate drizzle. White chocolate shavings on top of a mountain of coconut cream. Now let me start by saying that I don’t even like coconut shavings. There’s too much chewing involved but despite that, this pie was soooo good. The cream was intense, the chocolates, divine. It was a beautiful dessert.

This beautiful thing is the Valrhona Jivara Cylinder (14$). It’s beautifully presented and I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by it, but I ended up floored. The yellow spots are passionfruit curd. It isn’t sour like some passionfruit is and the seeds, when you bite into them are like little balls of sugar. On the left is a fresh banana sorbet sitting on top of nuggets of chocolate. The sorbet is fresh, tangy, and perfect after a meaty meal. The nuggets of chocolate actually pop in your mouth after you bite into them, not unlike pop rock candies. But let me tell you where the magic happens. It’s the milk chocolate cylinder on the right, filled with raspberry foam. But that’s not all it’s filled with.

Underneath the deliciously sweet, with a slight sour, foam, there looks to be a praline-like cream, and under that yet, there is milk chocolate mousse. This thing looks small, but it was so damn good, that I would pay 14$ just for that cylinder alone. So gosh darn delicious.

I wasn’t lying when I said boyfriend likes his raw meat. The first time this happened, I was slightly embarrassed, but I couldn’t stop laughing. This time, I didn’t think he would actually do it again. Sometime after our entrees were finished, I feigned a bathroom break and went to talk to our waiter to inform him of the birthday we were celebrating and if the kitchen could do something special for the dessert. And what does boyfriend order for dessert for a second time in a row? Steak tartare. The first time it happened, the waiter who was cleaning crumbs off our table actually stopped to look at him, like it was the weirdest request because well, it is weird. So yes, so manly that he eats a chunk of raw meat for a dessert, and I accept him for it. And they stuck a candle in it for me.

I really do love Scaramouche, and if I were hella loaded, I would probably eat here monthly, if not weekly. Both dinners cost us between $200 and $225 after tip, and that’s without drinking any wine or spirits. The food is definitely worth it though and the atmosphere is very nice, classy, and the perfect place to treat yo’self.