April 27, 2012

Delicious Lunch picks in Toronto

I would have a hard time living without carbs. I can't resist the temptation of bread (a freshly baked loaf is my ultimate weakness), pasta or the not-so-great-for-you sweet carb variety. After a few great lunches recently I have discovered a new kind of delicious carb and it seems to be popping up everywhere these days: the steamed bun.

The steamed bun, "baozi," is a small, fluffy bun in Chinese cuisine usually stuffed with meats for a savoury snack or sweet fillings like custard or bean paste.

I had my first taste of steamed buns at Bannock with their pickerel taco with caviar tartar; not quite the traditional steamed bun experience, but Toronto Life named the dish "the city's most elaborate steamed bun," so you can't really argue with that. I could see why it was a popular pick. Pickerel is quite a "fishy" fish, but it wasn't too overpowering and the buns were just the right size and not too doughy.

I actually ordered a "bannock" (because you have to order a "bannock" at "bannock" right?) with smoked salmon, cream cheese and onion. It's not a great picture of it, but I am a sucker for the smoked salmon, cream cheese and caper combo and I loved their take. The bread was light and heavenly and almost like a naan bread texture.  

But for the ultimate steamed buns I knew I had to try Banh Mi Boys. I kept hearing how amazing the place was and it seemed extremely affordable, so we went last weekend for dinner. Their menu is basically broken down into banh mi's (vietnamese-style subs with various meat fillings), tacos and steamed baos. 

I knew I wouldn't be able to eat an entire banh mi (they were huge!) and try a steamed bun as well, so I ordered a pulled pork bao and a tofu taco. The taco shell was quite soft, but had a nice chewiness to it and the tofu had a lot of flavour and wasn't too spicy. The tofu taco was also topped with purple cabbage slaw, kimchi, pickled carrots and cilantro. 

Mike got the kalbi beef banh mi (short ribs, kimchi, asian bbq sauce) and pork belly bao. You really can't go wrong with barbecued meat on a baguette. 

I enjoyed the steamed buns, and they are a steal at $3.50, but I thought they could have used a little more sauce. I don't normally like a lot of spice, but I thought they needed a little more kick. I like pulled pork dripping with sauce, but maybe I'm not used to the style of sandwich. The buns were extremely filling, so the whole meal was definitely a lot of carbs!

My favourite was actually the banh mi sandwich, as I preferred how the short ribs were marinated and tasted over the pork options. The whole meal was extremely affordable and I loved trying a new kind of sandwich. There's a reason why Banh Mi Boys is such a popular spot. 

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