Our Food Treated with Love
It would be impossible to live in a city and find they have no hidden gems. Places that are flat out awesome however somehow stay below the radar. Even with people such as myself blogging about them or customers posting their experiences on some of the internet food boards or review sites out there they go unnoticed. They somehow never seem to be at the top of anyone's list of great places to eat. Yet just about everyone who pays a visit, raves.
Take The Fish Store and YuNes Sandwiches in Toronto. The tiny spot owned by a friendly immigrant Korean family in Toronto's Little Italy sells fresh fish you can take home. However what will really get your attention are the fresh fish dishes they offer. Give or take there are 18 different sea critters available daily and your fish can be presented in 4 different ways. Sandwich, on rice, a burrito or tacos. All cooked to order. If that weren't enough, they have 3 different soups on the daily menu as well. All are very good.
The sky blue store has a nice distressed look. As if it's been weathered beaten over the years as if it overlooks the sea. Not College St. Your seating options are very limited. Both in room and choice. They have a patio with about 12 seats and that's it.
Inside it's little more than a closet. Almost every inch is dedicated to stock. It's actually a pretty efficient use of space. There's very room to maneuver but enough that they can cook up some of the city's best sandwiches from their tiny little kitchen.
Quite literally, the smallest place I’ve reviewed.
All fish is, more or less, cooked exactly the same. In a terrific sauce that I think can best be described as a fish sauce vinaigrette. It's tasty, earthy and tangy. So let's get a look.
YuNes makes their own BBQ Sauce and it's really quite good. I suppose it has to be since it appears to be either completely a home made Sriracha (rooster) sauce or is the base and back bone of the sauce. I occasionally felt like I tasted cucumber but I wasn't sure. Either way, as I said, it's really good. I would describe it more of a hot sauce than a BBQ sauce FWIW.
The New England Clam Chowder (they also make Manhattan style) is not the best I've had but there is a good reason for that. It's dairy free. Now, I normally would pass but I've heard great things so I gave it a go. I just can't say that you don't miss the richness the cream provides however I can say that this is fantastic. It still has a buttery-ness even without dairy. It has the signature clam chowder taste. It's just not as rich. Using a potato broth means it's not really lighter, just not as rich. Even better with a bit of pepper.The Butternut Squash soup is fantastic. With a nice squash flavour, slightly rich, a bit buttery and silky smooth. About half way through I added some of the BBQ sauce and it was probably equally as good. Neither way was better, just slightly different.
The fish sandwich really is all that. Here we have grouper on a nice bun with lettuce, tomato and a hint of cilantro. The whole thing works great with the cilantro adding a bit of personality. Not so much as to put off the bazillion people who hate the stuff but enough to give some flavour. The bun is spectacular. Tender yet crisp. A thin, crispy crust that is tender enough that the guts don't squish out the back yet sturdy enough to stay a bit crunchy throughout consumption. The mild, buttery grouper is at it's delicate best. One of the best fish sandwiches I've ever had. Phenomenal.
The Fish Tacos here are both fantastic and disappointing at once. 4 soft flour tortillas stuffed nicely with fresh vegetation and then topped with your fish of choice. The freshness of the veggies really shone here. The fresh catfish was really nice however I felt rather skimpy. They'd probably do better offering the same amount of fish but spread out across 3 tacos instead. I mixed and matched the BBQ sauce and vinaigrette and any combination was really good.
They don't do dessert so a trip across the street to Pancho's Bakery will let you score what they claim is the "Best churro in the city." Pancho's does Mexican sweets that are, from my experience, hit and miss. A group of us paid a visit during a food tour and the over all consensus was that we must be missing something. I got the impression that a lot of what we had was designed to be eaten with a cup of coffee. That said, I've had a few things that I really liked. Not the least of which was a strawberry empanada.
It's hard to say whether or not the churro is the best but I can say I'm not sure I've had better. Perhaps the crunchiest I've had with good flavour in the dough. I'd like a bit more cinnamon hit but it was fine. There's ample dolce de leche squeezed into the middle that it last the whole length of this terrifically tasty tubular treat. The more of these I eat the more I seem to like them. With a growing Latin community, that's only gonna get better.
So there you have it. Some of the best fish and churro's this city has to offer.
You can find The Fish Store at 657 College St in Toronto, On. Pancho's is right across the street.
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You can also find them on the web and "like" them on facebook.
Well that's all for now folks. See ya next time in the food court.