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.

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Country 005 – Dominican Republic (Mi Tierra)

tierra
Location
: 828 Saint Clair Avenue West, Toronto
Website: None

I was watching the Dominican Republic-centric episode of No Reservations, and a hearty soup called sancocho was highlighted as that country’s quintessential dish.  After a quick consultation with my good friend Google,  I found myself at Mi Tierra — though it’s technically a Colombian restaurant, they’ve got the ‘cocho on the menu (what’s that?  No one calls it ‘cocho?  Okay fine.  Your loss).

It’s alright, I guess.  It’s perfectly tasty, but I have a hard time imagining anyone getting too hot and bothered over it (but again, like with my recent experience with doubles, it’s possible that I got a mediocre version of an otherwise great dish).

The base is a pretty basic chicken stock; it’s a nice clean broth, but there isn’t a whole lot of flavour there.  It’s filled with some fairly sizable chunks of potato, plantain, cassava (which is like a starchier potato), oxtail, and roast-beef-esque chunks of meat.

It’ll certainly fill you up, though I wish there was a little bit more meat in there; there was only one piece of oxtail, which was really tender and probably the best thing in the bowl.  There were maybe three or four chunks of beef, which were a bit dryer than I’d like, but otherwise pretty good.  The rest was all potato and cassava and plantain.  It was hearty and very filling, no doubt about it, but a little bit ho-hum.  The dish primarily consists of starchy vegetables that all taste like starchy vegetables; there’s not much here that elevates them.

It came with a coleslaw-esque salad on the side, which had a bright, citrusy flavour, but which was a little bit too strong on the onion for my tastes (but I’m admittedly not a huge fan of raw onion).

Mi Tierra - the restaurant Mi Tierra - the empanadas Mi Tierra - the sancocho