Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Mean Bao – 511 (Queen & Bathurst) – Review

I’ve been wanting to try Mean Bao for awhile now, ever since this second location opened up on Bathurst just south of Queen in 2014.  Since then, their baos have become so popular that a third location has opened up in Leslieville.  The one on Bathurst is mainly take out with a few bar stools that were empty at the time, so we opted to sit down. 

We sampled one of each dish on the small menu, starting with the baos of course!  The main attraction is the highlight of the night.  Silky, fluffy buns are filled with pork belly, cucumber and hoisin sauce, and the braised beef bao is topped with bok choy and Taiwanese pickles.  The meat is tender, and the simple toppings add a nice crunch for a well balanced bao bite!

Pork belly bao, Mean Bao

Pork belly bao, Mean Bao

I can never say “no” to dumplings, so of course we tried Mean Bao’s take on this classic.  These soft, lightly spiced shrimp and pork dumplings are packed to the brim with juicy flavour.  I have never seen such fat dumplings!  A mean and meaty mouthful for sure.

Pork and shrimp dumplings, Mean Bao

Pork and shrimp dumplings, Mean Bao

Finally we ordered the sticky quinoa.  A unique take on sticky rice, the quinoa is wrapped in a lotus leaf, and mixed with chicken, lap cheong (Chinese sausage) mushroom and topped with scallions and a salted duck egg.  Whoa!  Where did this salted duck egg come from, and how can I eat more of them?  A fusion of salty Asian flavours with just the right amount of richness, we totally devoured this dish.  I’m loving the use of quinoa instead of rice, because now I feel like I made a healthy choice, ha!

Sticky quinoa, Mean Bao

Sticky quinoa, Mean Bao

Reasonably priced, satisfying with a simple but interesting menu, Mean Bao lives up to their name, and a few other tasty dishes makes for an all round wicked meal.

If you’ve tried the Leslieville location, please comment below!

Maha’s Egyptian Brunch – review

Chef's Appetizer Platter, Maha's Egyptian Brunch

Chef’s Appetizer Platter, Maha’s Egyptian Brunch

Look at this platter.  I mean, just LOOK at the presentation (and drool), do I even need to write a review to convince you to try Maha’s Egyptian Brunch?   Because, yes, this golden platter IS as fresh and tasty as it appears.  The East end of Toronto has really stepped up it’s brunch game in the past few years and Maya’s Egyptian Brunch is part of this movement.  Located on Greenwood just north of Gerrard, this small unassuming bistro opened it’s doors in 2014.  The inside is cozy and welcoming with Egyptian elements and decorated with personal trinkets.  Outside, there is a cute patio and we happened to score a spot on this unseasonably warm day.

The chef’s platter is perfect to share between two people and surprisingly filling!  I would have been content with just the platter but the menu was so enticing, I got greedy and ordered the Po’Boy to split as well.  The platter consists of a few homemade dips: babaghanoug (eggplant), hummus (chick pea), Egyptian beet salad, pickled onions, garlic tomatoes, Roumy (Egyptian) cheese, traditional Balady bread and pita, and the best falafels I have ever tasted.  Nicely spiced and delicately fried, these falafels are light and fluffy and not heavy at all.  Well proportioned with an interesting assortment of fresh flavours, this platter is an ideal way to sample a good selection of their side dishes.

The Po’Boy is an example of authentic Cairo street food, and consists of a pita stuffed with battered, deep fried shrimp topped with homemade tehina (tahini – sesame paste) and tomeya (garlic sauce).  The marinated shrimp are juicy and thinly battered, and the soft pita is a delicious vessel for the creamy, crispy goodness that is every bite.  Indulging in Egyptian street eats is the best way to enjoy the last day of patio weather!

With friendly service, a relaxed vibe and inviting food at reasonable prices, Maha’s is a refreshing addition to the East end brunch scene, and gave me another reason to travel to Egypt!

Pharaoh's Po' Boy, Maha's Egyptian Brunch

Pharaoh’s Po’ Boy, Maha’s Egyptian Brunch



Mnandi Pies Review

Beef & Kale pie, Mnandi Pies, Toronto

Beef & Kale pie, Mnandi Pies, Toronto

I’ve always been curious to try to the row of food stands on Dundas just west of Bathurst on the south side.  The Market 707 shipping container food court boasts an interesting variety of international foods and has been on my “to-eat” list for awhile now, so when my friend suggested we try Mnandi Pies before heading to the AGO, I was game.

When Evis Chirowamhangu came to Canada as a refugee in 2005, she missed the meat pies from her homeland of Zimbabwe so much that she decided to recreate her favourite childhood food.  Developing the recipe solely on the tastes and smells from her memories, she opened up a stand here  earlier this summer.

A simple menu lists four different kinds of pies: steak and onion, chicken and mushroom, carrot and kale and beef and kale.  I opt for the beef and kale pie: stewed beef and kale cooked in a tomato gravy and seasoned with a special Zimbabwe spice mix.  The tender, savory filling is perfectly packed into the light, flaky pastry, oozing out with every bite.  I was tempted to try all four at once, but was glad I held back because the hand sized pies are surprisingly filling!  I guess I will just have to come back…

An inspiring story and a testament to the diversity of the Toronto food culture, I’m so happy that our city welcomed Evis’ Zimbabwe pies with open arms.  “Mnandi” means delicious in Ndebele (a tribal language spoken in Zimbabwe) and nothing could describe her pies more accurately.