Location: 2943 Bloor Street West, Toronto
You wouldn’t necessarily think that South African cuisine would be all that difficult to find, but apparently it is. Outside of a catering company that opens for brunch on Sundays, Plan B appears to be the only restaurant in Toronto that specializes in South African eats.
That’s a lot of weight on its shoulders. They’re basically the ambassadors for South African cuisine for the entire GTA.
Thankfully, it’s quite tasty. Plan B specializes in braai, which is South African-style grilled meat. They also sell a variety of hamburgers (so a second visit for another blog might be in order), but I ordered the mixed braai platter, which comes with boerewors (a South African sausage), chicken, lamb (steak is also an option), and two sides.
Everything is very nicely grilled, with that great smoky flavour you only get from food that’s been cooked over a flame. And the meats are all quite good — in particular, the boerewors was seriously delicious. The texture was nice and tender while still being satisfyingly meaty, and the spicing was unique and tasty.
The chicken was fairly plain, but perfectly cooked. The lamb, however, was overly tough and almost impossible to cut into with the knife provided.
I ordered potato salad as well as pap and tomato chutney on the side. The potato salad was run-of-the-mill, but the pap (which is a South African version of polenta) really stands out. It’s a bit bland on its own, but once you pour some of the sweet tomato chutney on top, it comes alive.
Location: 900 Rathburn Road West, Mississauga
I think I should preface this review by saying that Village Suya has only been up and running for a few weeks; I wasn’t too crazy about the meal I had here, but it’s quite possible that they still have some kinks to work out. So you might want to take this review with a grain of salt.
For the uninitiated, Suya is Nigerian-style grilled meat, typically sold by street vendors on skewers. This particular restaurant serves beef and chicken; I went with beef, and got it with a side of fried rice.
The rice was easily the highlight. Though it looks fairly similar to Chinese-style fried rice, it definitely has a personality of its own. It’s a touch on the oily side (my mouth felt grease-slicked for at least an hour or two after eating), but it has a satisfying curry-tinged flavour, and just enough of a kick to put some sweat on your brow.
And whatever they’ve marinated the beef in is actually pretty tasty; it’s nicely seasoned, with another solid dose of spice. But (and this is a fairly big but) the beef was excessively chewy and dry — it’s kind of unpleasant (of course, this didn’t stop me from eating almost all of it, but I digress).
The meat was either severely overcooked, or they’re using a cheaper cut of beef that’s meant to be stewed (or, more likely, a little from column A, a little from column B). It’s too bad, because if the meat were a little bit more tender (or, more accurately, tender at all), it would probably be pretty good. The elements, otherwise, are all there. But when the beef is that jerky-like in its consistency, it’s kind of tough to enjoy — even if the flavour is pretty good.