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This is the first of a series of eating east Asian cuisine in Toronto by flashbracket.

Kingyo Toronto
51B Winchester Street
Toronto, ON M4X 1R7
(647) 748-2121
www.kingyotoronto.ca

Where do I start with Kingyo? In a market full of excellent east Asian cuisine — Toronto that is, and definitely not Montréal — I often feel a bit overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the great restaurants serving Chinese dim sum, Korean barbecue, and Japanese ramen. I travel back to my hometown of Toronto whenever I can, and each time I’m back in town my family and friends are holding a list of places that we need to try, or restaurants they really want to go back to and know that I would be down for some good eats. Kingyo, a Vancouver inception, opened their Toronto outpost at the end of 2012 but I only made my way over to its Cabbagetown location earlier this year. So I am about a year late in the game. But I am glad that, since my first visit, I kept coming back to this restaurant serving Japanese bar food just about every time I was back in Hogtown. And every time I’m back on the train headed to Montréal I still think about my favourite meals and Kingyo is always one of them.

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Bombay Mahal
1001 rue Jean Talon Ouest
Montréal, Québec H3N 1T2
(514) 273-3331
www.restaurantbombaymahal.ca

I complain too much about the mediocrity of ethnic food here in Montréal. But I shouldn’t complain about this when most of the food offered in the city is so good, right? I mean, we have so much good bread, amazing French food, an abundance of maple syrup, and all the cheese that you can only wish for outside of Europe.

So when I start complaining about food in Montréal I know my friends back home in Toronto are just rolling their eyes. I get it, I do. You yearn for what you don’t have. The grass is greener on the other side. Yada yada. But when you grow up with good Indian food everywhere, and for mere pennies really, then you move almost 600 kilometres away and keep running into crappy Indian food…it’s disconcerting. It’s sad.

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Olive+Gourmando
351 Rue Saint Paul Ouest (at rue St-Pierre)
Montréal, QC H2Y 2A7
(514) 350-1083
www.oliveetgourmando.com

Long before I moved to Montréal, one of my earliest memories of visiting the city was when my family I rode on one of the horse-drawn carriages in the Old Port (Vieux-Port or Vieux-Montréal in French). I was about seven years, had my hair fashioned up in pigtails, and clutched my favourite stuffed animals along the cobblestone streets, making for a bumpy and rugged carriage ride. I also remember thinking the buildings looked funny because they were unlike anything I had seen in Toronto with their grey stones and lofty windows that lined the narrow roads. And after my first encounter with baguettes, I fell in love with the assortment of these heavenly carbs at my disposal in this strange French-speaking land.

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Two decades later, I relocated from Anglophone Canada to the French Canadian province of Québec, and I found myself feel a natural pull to the Old Port from my downtown apartment. I rediscovered this historic neighbourhood and became hooked on the bakery and café called Olive+Gourmando (“Olive et Gourmando”), a sister business to the very successful restaurant Toqué! I had done some online sleuthing and figured out that Olive+Gourmando was a place to visit for breakfast fare, sandwiches, and baked goods. Well I love breakfast, sandwiches, and baked goods so I made a beeline to this café, only to be met with long lineups at all hours of operation.

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One of the benefits of living in Montréal is the quality of bread. Seriously, this is a benefit. If you grew up munching on packaged sliced white bread from one of the big bread companies selling at your local supermarket, the chances are that you may be accustomed to consuming sub par bread. But if you grew up in Montréal, your supermarket is stocked with excellent bread. Not to mention that each neighbourhood is dotted with boulangeries. With the choice of amazing and freshly baked bread, there is no excuse for buying mediocre products.

I recognize that I am a minority in that I grew up eating excellent bread in Canada, outside of Québec. During my early childhood, my mother baked our bread from scratch and without a bread machine. She would make the dough, let it rise, knead it, let it rise, knead again, before popping it in the oven and letting the perfume of the baking dough encompass our tiny apartment. Later, my father sought out quality baked goods and made weekly drop-ins to the Portuguese bakery in our neighbourhood. He would bring home European baked desserts and buns still hot from the oven in a large paper bag. I loved consuming freshly baked bread while it was still warm.

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Slice, oiled, and salted baguette can be made into croutons or crunchy toasts.

Now that I live in Montréal, I am spoiled with amazing bread. I drop by my chain supermarket and they stock various baked goods from local bakeries such as Premiere Moisson which, despite being a chain, produces amazing baguettes, ciabattas, focaccias, and other baked goods. But people here mostly purchase baguettes, and you will see many pedestrians, especially before dinner time, walking around with a baguette perched in their sack. Yes, this is like how some people stereotype the French except here you will be lucky if you see someone wearing a striped shirt and beret while holding on to their baguette.

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