When I was in Vancouver and only visiting Toronto, I would tally up the shops and restaurants Toronto has that didn’t make it to Vancouver. But now I’m based in Toronto, the tables are turned and I yearn for another city. That’s just my life.
After all these years, there still isn’t a Mango in Vancouver. Nor is there a Solutions or Ones’ Better Living, both of which are only in Ontario. Vancouver has C&K World and options if you don’t want to buy Lululemon.
Shopping aside, it’s the restaurants I’m most keen on. It’s hard for me in such a short time and hardly going to the suburbs to get a full idea of what’s going on but I try and here’s what I can tell.
The good food is out there in Toronto but I think there’s more noise (i.e., bad food) and the good food is going to be farther flung because it’s a sprawling and bigger city. I would pick on Vancouver for not having the diversity like Ethiopian and Caribbean food that I have been introduced to, but how often do I really go for those cuisines?
The Toronto ramen scene is the pits with top rated places until recently being Ajisen (ack!) and Kenzo. I did not like the latter when I tried it. But it’s really heating up this year and that is astounding. Kinton Ramen by Guu came first and I entirely missed the news and hype about the opening of Santouka from Japan (first Canadian location in Vancouver) and Raijin from the Kintaro and Motomachi Shokudo folks in Vancouver. Santosei opened recently and goodness knows what other goodness is coming next!
Izakayas are also finding a foothold in Toronto now and the early bird to the scene (that I’ve seen) is Don Don. Guu is also fairly new (the restaurant preceded their ramen shop). Hapa just opened and Kingyo, both from Vancouver, is on the way.
In chain restaurant news, the last (and the best, in my opinion) of the big box restaurants from the West Coast, Cactus Club Cafe, announced plans for Toronto expansion. The day Cactus Club arrives in Halifax I don’t know if I would laugh or cry.
Vancouver has Toronto and a great many cities beat when it comes to food trucks and their festivals. Sorry.
Oh, but the Korean dining strip in North York (Toronto) is a wonderland of good food and best value I’ve ever experienced. Even Koreatown has a better offering than the most Korean area of Vancouver (in Coquitlam).
I can think of three restaurants that came to Toronto first. Benihana at the Royal York. PF Chang’s at the Shops at Don Mills. And Momofuku. Vancouver foodies probably sigh in relief the first two haven’t arrived. I guess it’s just proof that everything does eventually end up in Toronto because it has a market for anything.
Suffice it to say, my favourite weekly column of BlogTo.com in their Eat & Drink section is The Week in Food!