There's more to being a restaurant critic than propping up the bar at the latest King West boîte surrounded by celebrity hairdressers and Australian supermodels. Not much more, mind you. Why, you can visit all four of the Chinese takeout trucks that line U of T's main drag in one day!
Although there are only nine items on its menu, Ken Ho's (St. George north of College, rating: NNNN ) is the only one of the lot worth lining up for. Its hefty vegetarian combo (all $3.95, tax included) comes with al dente broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms alongside waxy curried potato in gravy over chow mein. Another combo features two doughnut-like fritters stuffed with a tiny nugget of chicken alongside more broccoli, Chinese chives and onion on a bed of short-grain rice that, like almost everything else at these meal deals on wheels, tastes one step up from the styrofoam container in which it's presented. Nicely garnished with raw bean sprouts and thin threads of carrot, though.
Further up the street, Wokking on Wheels (St. George north of Hoskin, rating: NNN ) offers a version of General Tso's Chicken named for one General George ($4.75 on rice, tax included) that consists of heavily battered deep-fried chicken chunks in sweet ketchup-like gloop, sided with wilted iceberg lettuce. However, thrifty vegans will dig Buddha's Rice ($4), a sticky stir-fry of deep-fried tofu, carrot, broccoli, sweet red pepper strips and button mushrooms.
Unmarked Mandarin (St. George south of Hoskin, rating: NN ) offers Spicy Yellow Noodle ($4.99, tax included), an appalling-looking tangle of spaghetti-like pasta in tingly fluorescent-orange sauce, joined by tender strips of beef as well as thin wisps of raw carrot and crunchy sprouts that I imagine might seem quite tasty after an afternoon drinking in a student pub. But no amount of alcohol can save Mandarin's veggie version of Singapore-style vermicelli ($4.50). The curry powder in this fiery stir-fry hasn't been properly blended with its cooking oil first.
A few trucks down, Kee's Fine Foods (St. George south of Hoskin, rating: NN ) has over 100 items on its lengthy card. Barbecue pork and fried noodle or mixed veg and fried rice (both $4.50, tax included) are exactly that - thinly sliced meat, chow mein, soggy vegetables and cardboard rice, just the thing when you're only interested in shovelling as much filler into an empty stomach hole as quickly as possible before your next class.