Country 071 – Ecuador (Comedor Popular Ecuatoriano)

Comedor Popular EcuatorianoLocation9 Milvan Drive, North York
Website: None

Though I’ve already written about a restaurant in the Plaza Latina food court, another visit was probably inevitable.  That place is an absolute treasure trove of Latin American food.

This time, I visited an Ecuadorian restaurant called Comedor Popular Ecuatoriano.  I wasn’t sure what to order; the woman behind the counter recommended a dish that came with a hearty soup and churrasco, an Ecuadorian take on steak and eggs.

Comedor Popular Ecuatoriano

The soup came out first, and it was really, really good.  I didn’t see it on the menu, but I’m pretty sure this was sancocho.  I had this particular soup at a restaurant called Mi Tierra, but this one was clearly the superior version.  The broth had a really satisfying chicken-infused flavour, with a nice hit of cilantro and a zestiness that kept me coming back for more.

Comedor Popular Ecuatoriano

It was also seriously hearty, with huge chunks of cassava, carrots, plantains, beef, and corn.  This alone would have been a satisfying lunch.

But of course, there was still the main meal: a huge plate piled high with steak, rice, fries, two fried eggs, and a salad.  If you’ve got a big appetite, this is your place.

Comedor Popular Ecuatoriano

Oddly, I really enjoyed this even though most of the individual components weren’t all that great.  The steak was tough, the fries were run-of-the-mill, and the rice was fairly bland.  But once I started eating it all together, it coalesced into something surprisingly tasty.  The perfectly runny yolks on the two eggs essentially becomes a sauce that improves everything; if you get a little bit of multiple elements in each mouthful, it’s delicious.


Country 014 – Belgium (Moo Frites)

: 178 Baldwin Street, Toronto

I know, I know — fries aren’t exactly exciting international fare. It seems kinda like a cop out for a blog dedicated to trying new things from every country in the world.

But French fries are generally thought to have been invented in Belgium, and Belgian fries are probably the first dish that springs to mind when you think of that country.  So when I realized I was right near Moo Frites — a small storefront in Kensington Market devoted exclusively to the deep fried spuds — I figured I may as well give it a shot.

The simple menu consists of fries, a ridiculous amount of dipping sauces, and a handful of more elaborately topped fry concoctions.  I went with a small order of fries (a pretty generous amount for $4.25) with frite sauce for dipping.

The fries were quite good; they were tasty, though if I were to rank them against all the French fries I’ve had in my life, they probably wouldn’t even make the top hundred.

Maybe hoping for best-of-all-time fries is an unreasonable expectation, but given that this is all they serve — and that they take their inspiration from what is reportedly the best place for fries on Earth — I was expecting the them to knock my socks off.

They were generally above average, though the exterior probably should have been a bit more crisp, and the interior a bit more fluffy.  I definitely enjoyed them, but my socks remained firmly on my feet.

Maybe this is my fault.  I didn’t notice until it was too late that, for a one dollar surcharge, they’ll cook your fries in beef fat.  This would be the more authentically Belgian way of preparing them, so perhaps this would have pushed them over the edge from good to great.

As for the frite sauce, it’s a mayo-based sauce that’s described on the menu as containing capers, anchovies, and parsley.  None of those flavours particularly punch through; it basically just tastes like tangy mayo.  But it’s a good tangy mayo.  I know dipping your fries in mayo is an alien concept to many, but it’s the bee’s knees, trust me.

Moo Frites - the menu Moo Frites - the fries