The 10 Best Things We Ate in 2013

By Suresh Doss  |  December 18, 2013

Looking back at our favorite Toronto dishes of 2013, we deduced three important things: The city is smitten with global flavors, serious spice and lots and lots of octopus. Here are 10 of the most memorable plates we've enjoyed. 

  • B.C. Black Cod at Cafe Boulud

    Daniel Boulud's Yorkville outpost introduced Torontonians to his elegant French cuisine with a menu divided into sections based on rustic country cooking, seasonal dishes, vegetable-focused items and global cuisine. From the fusion-y "Le Voyage" section, the B.C. black cod was a real treat. Served with roasted Thai eggplant, Kaffir lime, lemongrass and then finished table side with a pouring of rich red curry lobster bisque, it was an incredible example of how the star chef tweaks international cuisines to fit his refined sensibility. 

    60 Yorkville Ave.; 416-963-6000

  • Jelly Modern Doughnuts

    After finding success in Calgary, Jelly Modern brought its craft approach to doughnuts to Toronto over the summer. They were a welcome addition to the baking scene and are definitely some of the best doughnuts in the city, all made fresh with a variety of toppings that aren't sickly sweet. Our favorites include maple bacon, peanut butter cup and the classic jelly doughnut dipped in Madagascar vanilla glaze and filled with housemade jelly.

    376 College St.; 416.962.2053

  • Brunch at Chantecler

    Earlier this fall, chef Jonathon Poon decided to pay tribute to his cultural roots by launching a Sunday lunch menu that cheekily plays on traditional Chinese dim sum dishes. Poon takes traditional plates and adds his own flair, often integrating modern cooking techniques or unusual ingredients. The result is a unique menu that offers perspective on evolving global cuisine. Our favorite is Poon's turnip cake, served with Chinese-style sausage and xo sauce. 

    1320 Queen St. W.; 416-628-3586

  • Dayali

    The popular Beijing chain known for its Peking duck opened its first Toronto location late last year in Markham. Quickly the masses followed, with long lines forming to try signature dishes like the chili crab. Whole Dungeness crab arrives covered in Szechuan peppercorns and chili pepper, while it sits in a pool of spicy juice. With each suck and bite, explosion of heat and flavor go off in your mouth. 

    20 Gibson Drive.; 905-604-8680

  • El Gastronomo Vagabundo

    The massively popular food truck showed no signs of slowing down this year as chef Adam Hynam-Smith continued to push the envelope for street food with each inventive dish. Take his deep fried egg plate - a perfectly battered and poached egg sitting on a bed of asparagus and candied bacon and ramps, then drizzled with a tarragon emulsion and finished off with dukkah (ground mixture of nuts, herbs and spices). 

    Twitter; @elgastronomo

  • Roasted rice cakes at Momofuku daishō

    It's been a year since Momofuku brought a small army of eateries to Toronto's Financial District and although the ramen is the signature attraction (of course), we can't get over how much we love the rice cakes. There are two versions of this dish, one at Noodle Bar and a kicked up version at daishō  on the third floor. Pictured above, daishō's is the spicier version of the two and still features those crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside cakes topped with ample chilies, pork sausage, Chinese broccoli and tofu.

    190 University Ave,; 647-253-8000

  • Richmond Station 

    We can't get enough of chef Farzam Fallah's dessert creations at Richmond Station. With a menu that rotates monthly, Fallah draws from his Iranian roots to create unique deconstructed representations of some of his favorite dishes. Our top pick is the Persian-inspired shole zard, a pistachio sorbet with saffron pudding, poached pear and rosewater chip.

    1 Richmond St W,; 647-748-1444

  • Grilled octopus at Spencer's

    Toronto is in the midst of cephalopod fever. We saw octopus in a variety of forms; grilled whole with potatoes (Bar Isabel), used in gumbo (Carbon Bar), added to ceviche (Bent) and even in a taco on the city's finest food trucks (Buster's Sea Cove). Our absolute favourite use of tentacles, however, was at Burlington's Spencer's. Chef Andrew Mcleod presented a Catalan-style dish with chunks of grilled octopus sous vide then grilled, served with white anchovy, fingerling potatoes, preserved lemon and olive oil. To top it off: a drizzle of spicy romesco sauce. 

    1340 Lakeshore Rd, Burlington,; 905-633-7494

  • Khao Soi from Khao San Road

    The coldest of winter nights don't faze Toronto foodies, as they continue to line up daily at Khao San Road, hoping to get a table and fill their bellies with plates of Bangkok-style pad Thai pad and bowls of massaman curry. The restaurant doesn't take reservations, so go earlier (or closer to 10pm) to grab a bowl of this northern Thai classic - the perfect winter remedy in the form of golden curry with coconut milk, egg noodles, scallions and your protein of choice.

    326 Adelaide St W,; 647-352-5773

  • Agnolotti from Gusto 101

    This Southern Italian Trattoria has many charms, like an all-year patio with a retractable glass roof and wine on tap (there's a micro-winery in the basement) that is ridiculously cheap ($1 an oz). Daniel Mezzolo's menu has its roots in Italy, but he tends to pull in global flavours. We loved the pillow-y agnolotti stuffed with pureed and spiced pumpkin served on top of a small pool of butter sauce, sage, poppy seeds and Parmigiano. The only thing is missing is more Malbec in your glass.

    101 Portland St,; 416-504-9669