By Cory Schachtel, Matthew Stepanic, Michael Ganley | February 28, 2023
Fu’s Repair Shop
Before you sit down in Fu’s Repair Shop — before you even step into the restaurant proper — you can tell you’re entering a place with lots of style. In the small front entrance, you’re greeted by a dim, tasselled lamp and small TV showing static sitting on a table in front of a mirror, giving you one more chance for a fit check before entering the red-hued establishment.
If “Coolest Vibe” was a category, Fu’s would probably win. But it has substance, too, and it’s mostly noodle-based. We jumped around the menu, picking Truffle Siu Mai (pork and shrimp dumplings with crispy chicharrones) and Jane Doe (rice rolls with sweet tamari-seasoned and hoisin-glazed sausage) off the Dim Sum menu, but the Wok Hay (“Big Dish Energy”) dishes stole the show.
When we ordered the Chow Ho Fun (rice noodles with veggies, Fu’s stir-fry sauce, and black tiger shrimp added on), the server said it was her favourite dish, and it was great. But the Spicy Lamb Dan Dan (noodles with lamb shoulder) was one of the most flavourful dishes I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know if it’s a matter of putting just the right amount of toasted sesame Dan Dan sauce on it, or if it’s simply so good the chef could never overdo it. But as my dish-twin at our neighbouring table slurped up the last of his, and I was in the middle of mine, we exchanged satisfied glances, knowing we’d be back again. — Cory Schachtel
Meaning “robin” in Omushkegowin (Swampy Cree), Pei Pei Chei Ow evokes comfort and explores modern Indigenous cuisine in each of its takeout dishes. Mushkego Cree Chef Scott Jonathan Iserhoff also considers himself a storyteller, which is evident by his improvisational menu that changes with seasonal ingredients. Past hits include the sweet and savoury Berry Barbecue Brisket Sandwich or a soul-warming stew with fresh bannock. — Matthew Stepanic
Pals has a big front window looking out to 83rd Avenue that keeps the place bright during the day, but on this cold, dark winter night the lights are dim, endowing one of the best new restaurants with a darker mood. That’s not a problem — it’s actually quite cozy — but given that the main course meals are all hand-held items, sandwich spillage is something to be aware of. And by “hand-held” I mean two hands, because these sandwiches are as dense as they are delicious.
In my personal sandwich-making life, I’m adamant that meat always goes on the bottom, with the only possible exception being a nice slice of cheese, because there’s always room for more cheese. But after having Pals’ pickle-on-the-bottom Cubano, with ham, roasted pork and provolone, I’m starting to rethink my sandwich philosophy.
The menu is predominantly savoury, with gut-warming soups and scrumptious sides (I will never forgive my dinner-mate for talking me out of getting the olives), and the drink menu covers a decent range of flavours (if you drink a Mai Tai with your eyes closed it almost feels like you’re in Hawaii).
But the sandwiches are the stars, and like any good sandwich, the second half of this one was just as tasty and filling the next day. — Cory Schachtel
Tucked into a tiny space just off Jasper Avenue, Cafe Caribbean offers up the flavours of the islands from a Trinidadian point of view. The small but tantalizing menu includes fried and curried chicken, steamed fish, braised pork and brown stewed beef. It also specializes in meat pies and roti.
Be sure to try the Sorrel, a hibiscus-flower drink seasoned with cloves, cinnamon, ginger and Angostura bitters. — Michael Ganley
Though lacking a restaurant or storefront, Chef Allen Gao’s ramen pop-ups are still the talk of the city’s food scene. Once a week, folks with fast-enough fingers (kits sometimes sell out in under an hour!) can order all you need to prepare a fool-proof bowl of ramen at home. Watch for the Pork Tonkotsu to make an appearance — the rich, savoury broth with house-made noodles, pork belly, and the delicious ajitama (marinated egg) will make you slurp with delight. — Matthew Stepanic