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: 104 Portland Street, Toronto
No, technically Chubby’s doesn’t qualify as a restaurant from Antigua and Barbuda. It’s Jamaican. It’s right there in the name.
But there are a bunch of tiny Caribbean countries, and for the purposes of this blog, compromises are going to have to be made. Jamaican cuisine is probably going to stand in for pretty much every country in that area, because Jamaican restaurants are everywhere. The rest of the Caribbean? Not so much.
Chubby’s is a bit of an odd one. It’s a far cry from the typical hole-in-the-wall Jamaican place you’re expecting, with a twee, hipster-friendly dining room that looks like it’s been scientifically engineered for social media appeal (and indeed, if you look up the restaurant on Instagram, there are far more twenty-somethings taking selfies than pictures of the food).
I was worried that the food might be an afterthought, but I tried a couple of things and they were both great.
First up: the saltfish fritters, which are lightly crispy on the outside, with a chewy texture that’s reminiscent of glutinous rice. True to its name it’s both salty and fishy, but not excessively so; it’s nicely balanced. The strong flavours are complimented well by the mango-lime-papaya salsa, which is sweet and surprisingly spicy.
I also tried the curry goat, which features a generous amount of fall-off-the-bone tender meat in a fragrant curry sauce. It comes with a side of rice and a small helping of sugary-sweet mango chutney. The chutney seems way too sweet at first, but it kind of has the same appeal as eating cranberry sauce with turkey. It grew on me.