As far as café lunches go, bagel sandwiches aren't particularly groundbreaking. Good thing the staple ring-shaped breadstuff at Simit and Chai is not a bagel, but the titular simit - a twisty, sesame-seed-covered roll with a lighter texture than its chewy counterpart.
At the small, airy Turkish-inspired café on King West, the simit's the foundation for a slew of sandwiches ($5.50-11.50) featuring Middle Eastern and Mediterranean toppings like prosciutto, olive tapenade, fava spread and pastirma, an ultra-savoury, slightly bitter cured beef. (Word on the street is they bring theirs in from a super-traditional producer in Montreal.) It sounds dead simple, but the pastirma sandwich piled with shavings of sharp Asiago is inexplicably, irresistibly crave-worthy. Other baked goods, like syrup-soaked cookies, are satisfying if occasionally saccharine.
787 King West, at Niagara, 647-352-4161, simitandchai.co
We don't want for Indian takeout options around here, but few joints really capitalized on the whole trend-ified, millennial-baiting, fast-casual thing until early fall, when Colaba Junction and Bombay Street Food opened seemingly simultaneously near Bay and College.
The former is a bright, buzzy tribute to Colaba, a district of Mumbai with a strong Portuguese influence. The menu is broad, featuring everything from meat and veg thalis to fun, street-influenced finger food and signature creations like a striking paneer and eggplant "lasagna" ($12.50). The results are as varied as the menu. Chef Ajay Sharma (Amaya) shows his chops in straight-up dishes like jhakaas gosht (bright lamb curry with lime leaf and baby pickles).
But nouveau creations like white butter chicken ($12.50), featuring a sauce laced with cardamom, cashew paste and barely detectable truffle oil, mostly serve as a stark reminder of just how much heavy cream is in your average bowl of butter chicken.
801 Bay, at College, 416-646-8800, colaba.ca
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