AN­NEX STAND­OUTS

Thornhill Post - - Food -

#6 Pasta Bal­das­sarre When Le­an­dro Bal­das­sarre moved his pasta man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness into its space on Geary Av­enue, his plan to serve lunch be­came en­snared in li­cens­ing red tape. So, for half a year, he op­er­ated Pasta Bal­das­sarre as a speakeasy, with only lo­cals know­ing to check In­sta­gram for an­nounce­ments of daily menus. Now that Bal­das­sarre is le­git, the lunch counter is no longer Toronto’s lit­tle se­cret, and the queue for the nine seats is of­ten out the door. There is a re­volv­ing col­lec­tion of lunch spe­cials: chest­nut­filled buck­wheat medaglia, tortelli di zucca, ag­nolotti in sage but­ter, ca­vatelli with an­chovies and rap­ini. Be­yond the cliquey ap­peal, Bal­das­sarre is a wor­thy des­ti­na­tion be­cause they serve a su­perb bowl of pasta. 122 Geary Ave. #33 Ra­men Isshin It took a long time for Ja­pa­nese ra­men to be­come pop­u­lar in Toronto. When it fi­nally did, in 2012, the trend pro­lif­er­ated quickly, much of it medi­ocre. But since then, a few pur­vey­ors have risen above ex­pec­ta­tions, their broth a lit­tle more com­plex, their noo­dles a bit more springy. The long menu at Ra­men Isshin has the clas­sics, mul­ti­ple veg­e­tar­ian op­tions (with ve­gan noo­dles avail­able) and a pen­chant for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion — cold ra­men with okra and kim­chee, black sesame tan tan ra­men, curry tsuke­men. The stand­out Red Dragon ra­men man­ages to sur­prise with a va­ri­ety of flavours and tex­tures — wok-fried pork bits and braised pork belly slices, peanuts, fer­mented chili paste, a blend of red and white miso and tonkotsu broth — while re­main­ing suf­fi­ciently teth­ered to the con­cept of ra­men to not seem gim­micky. 421 Col­lege St.

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