Noodles cross cultures in delicious ways. Check out these spots to see how they're done.
JEAN'S FINE FOODS CATERING (2326 Danforth, at Woodington, 416-422-0617) The pair responsible for two of Toronto's pioneering Thai-Malay restaurants -- Rasa Sayang and Sawasdee -- return with this low-key take-away featuring the street foods of Singapore. Fear not, pyrophobes. Unless fired with hot sauce, most dishes come moderately spiced. Best: Mee Goreng (saucy and slightly curried udon noodles mixed with shredded shrimp and chicken); vegetarian spring rolls stuffed with carrot, cabbage, glass noodles and yellow split peas dunked in garlicky honey dip; spice-tacular homemade hot sauce; bottled in-house curry paste and powder. Complete meals for $10 per person, including all taxes and tip. Open Tuesday to Sunday 5 to 10 pm. Closed Monday and holidays. Unlicensed. Access: bump at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
ONE OF A KIND PASTA & GRILL (746 Queen West, at Niagara, 416-203-2229) Despite its garish exterior, this inexpensive noodle noshery offers northern Italian mains in a nearly pretty setting. And while spicing is generally underpowered, portions are plentiful. Best: indigo squid-ink linguine with grilled calamari, ham, mushrooms and snow peas in white-wine cream; tri-coloured meat ravioli with peppers and onions in mild curry; sautéed shrimps Newberg with buttery broccoli over basil linguine in a sherry-scented sauce. Complete meals for $30 per person ($15 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open Monday to Saturday 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday 4 to 10 pm. Fully licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
BUDDHA'S VEGETARIAN FOODS (666 Dundas West, at Bathurst, 416-603-3811) This austere Chinese vegetarian spot makes up for its lack of decor with honest, clean-tasting noodle and 'shroom dishes. Bring your own garlic. Best: Chinese black, button and straw mushrooms with bok choy; massive spring rolls stuffed with sprouts, carrots and mushrooms, or soya rolls filled with mung beans and chewy cloud ears; deep-fried wontons wrapped with gluten and dipped into old-school sweet 'n' sour sauce. Complete meals for $8 per person, including all taxes and tip. Open Wednesday through Monday 11 am to 8 pm. Closed Tuesday. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: three steps at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
GINGER (695 Yonge, at Charles, 416-966-2424) Sure, there are fancier spots nearby, but this unpretentious Vietnamese cafeteria take-away is fast becoming a favourite. Best: meal-in-one soups like hot 'n' sour seafood soup with shrimp, mussels, scallops, squid, enoki mushrooms and rice vermicelli; chili beef with papaya; or chicken breast with mango salad; durian ice cream; $2.75 domestic beer. Complete dinners for $10, including all taxes, tip and a glass of house plonk. Open daily 11 am to 11 pm. Beer and wine only. Smoke-free. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN