Hanoi 3 Seasons owner Hai Luke Tran is rightly proud of his Queen East restaurant.
Best of the east-side
Bombay Chowpatty 1386 Gerrard E, at Woodfield, 416-405-8080
Our apologies to Lahore Tikka across the street: when we want an incendiary Subcontinental snack, we head to this takeaway at the back of a Bollywood DVD rental shop. Minimal food-court seating, maximum fireworks on (paper) plates. And it's vegetarian!
Order this: the Bombay Burger, a pan-fried potato patty dressed with chana masala, chopped tomato, onion and coriander chutney on a white-bread hamburger bun ($3.99), and a side of masala fries ($4.99) dressed with yogurt, tamarind chutney and that most multiculti of condiments - ketchup!
Monday to Thursday 1 to 11 pm, Friday to Sunday 1 pm to midnight. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
Fuzz Box 1246 Danforth, at Greenwood, 416-769-1432, thefuzzbox.ca
As poutine is to La Belle Province, donair is to Halifax - i.e., something you wouldn't normally eat unless you were three sheets to the wind. True connoisseurs know it's all about that alarmingly white gloop made with condensed milk, sugar, vinegar and garlic powder. Some gag, others go gaga.
Order this: the Super Donair, a grilled pita stuffed with ground paprika-spiked beef and dressed with ripe tomato, Spanish onion and that contentious sauce ($9.49), and a large side of Annapolis-style apple, cabbage, carrot coleslaw in a lemony vinaigrette ($3.99).
Monday to Thursday noon to 8 pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 11:30 pm. Closed Sunday, holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
Gale's Snack Bar 539 Eastern, at Carlaw
If it's good enough for the local chapter of the Hells Angels (whose clubhouse-slash-boutique is just down the street) this holiest of hole-in-the-walls is right up our alley. Not only is Eda and David Chan's 80-year-old diner's decor original, but so are the prices.
Order this: Depression-era hot turkey sandwiches made with daily-roasted bird on Weston white slathered in house-made gravy, sided with frozen fries, frozen peas 'n' carrots and winter-pink sliced tomato ($3.75), and a slice of house-baked raisin pie à la mode ($1.25), both tax-inclusive. Tip generously, you tightwad!
Monday to Friday 10:30 am to 6 pm, Saturday noon to 5 pm. Closed Sunday, holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: five steps at door, tiny washroom on same floor. Rating: NNNN
Hanoi 3 Seasons 1135 Queen E, at Larchmount, 416-469-3010; 588 Gerrard E, at Broadview, 416-463-9940, hanoi3seasons.com
Decked out with chic Southeast Asian antiques, Hai Luke Tran's two unusually stylish North Vietnamese beaneries forgo pho for complex seafood starters and mains.
Order this: sautéed baby clams with green chilies and black-sesame rice crackers (Hen, $7) followed by grilled grouper with dill and even more chopped chilies over rice vermicelli (Cha Ca La Vong, $12).
Lunch Tuesday to Sunday noon to 3 pm, dinner 5 to 10 pm; daily 11 am to 10 pm (Gerrard). Closed Monday, holidays; holidays (Gerrard). No reservations. Licensed. Access: short bump at door, washrooms in basement; two steps at door, washrooms on same floor (Gerrard). Rating: NNNN
Mother's Dumplings 804 Danforth, at Woodycrest, 647-350-8988; 421 Spadina, at College, 416-217-2008, mothersdumplings.com
A regular winner in NOW's annual Readers Poll for best Chinese restaurant, this recent addition to the nabe gets substantial props for its moderately priced all-day dim sum lineup.
Order this: gently steamed pork and pickled cabbage dumplings in whole-wheat wrappers ($7.49) paired with soupy Da-lu noodles with chewy ear fungus, minced pork and shredded cabbage ($7.99).
Sunday to Thursday 11:30 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 10:30 pm. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement; barrier-free (Spadina). Rating: NNNN
Menu items and prices may have changed. Call restaurant for details.
With files from Steven Davey