Showing posts with label kimchi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kimchi. Show all posts

Tacofino (Tofino)

Taco trucks and surf towns go together like salt and pepper. So, it’s not surprising to find places like Tacofino, which has grown from a truck located in a parking lot in Tofino to several brick-and-mortar locations across British Columbia.

For my first taste of these handheld treats, I had to go straight to the source… and its long winding line in the corner of a parking lot. The wait will have you summoning your inner Zen master, our Sunday afternoon visit meant it would take us over 30 minutes to order and another 15 minutes of prep time before digging into our food. The only saving grace is the long wait allows space on the communal picnic tables to free up, you’ll find a place to sit by the time you get your food.

Grab yourself a large bottle of water as things are salty at Tacofino. Perhaps it was just a heavy-handed chef making my order, but I found the soy marinade in the tuna-ta taco ($8.50) so prominent that it was all I could taste (my friend, on the other hand, found theirs fine). It could be that the tuna wasn’t seared long enough so that the soy didn’t have a chance to burn off and caramelize, the fish tasted like it was dunked in soy and quickly swished onto the flat top, so it was barely warm.

Along with the heap of pickled ginger and wakame (sweet seaweed salad), this taco is certainly bold in flavours. It’s a shame as the tuna taco would have been outstanding if the condiments weren’t so overpowering. Despite the decent portion of tuna stuffed into the taco, I could barely taste it.

The Baja-style fish taco ($7.50) was better. The batter was thick but helps to soak up the chipotle mayonnaise and keep the shredded cabbage and pico de gallo adhered to the tortilla. Again, it incorporated some good flavours, and the tempura ling cod was flaky and fried to perfection.

Both are sizeable tacos and would have been sufficient to leave me satisfied. Yet, after waiting so long, I was ravenous and added a pork and kimchi gringa ($8). What exactly is a gringa you ask? To me, they are like quesadillas, but according to Taro Sushi Brooklyn there are three differences between the two toasted tacos: gringas are traditionally eaten cold, filled with beans and cheese, thicker and flatter, and made using wheat flour tortillas. Gringas are also from Mexico while quesadillas originate from Spain.

At Tacofino, their pork and kimchi gringa includes a cheese and slow-cooked pork filling (not just beans) and it is hot (not cold) and toasted until there is a lovely golden crust… the ideal first bite after waiting outside in the cold for so long. Out of the three, this was my favourite. The filling so rich as the juices and grease from the pork and cheese mix together with the pickled kimchi to create a messy gooey bite that is a hit of flavours. Gringa or quesadilla? Who cares, just get it.

Having had my fair share of tacos, what makes Tacofino stand out, aside from their flavourful creations and fresh ingredients, is their flour tortillas. They are grilled until toasted air pockets and edges develop and somehow holds together despite being so thin. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still need at least a napkin per taco to get through the meal, but the tortillas surprisingly hold up quite nicely.

In the end, is Tacofino worth a visit? If I were to return, I’d opt for a location that keeps us out of the elements while we wait – food truck be damned. I’d also ask if they could put less salt and/or sauce on everything, especially on things with seafood so that the proteins can stand out better. But it’s certainly worth waiting - when in the East Coast, eat like the locals.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Tofino, Canada
 Address: 1184 Pacific Rim Hwy

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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Owl of Minerva (Toronto) for delivery

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

Aside from soup-based noodles, a comforting dish I crave in the winter is pork bone soup. There’s almost a primal sense of survival in picking up the massive hunk of bone in your hands and trying to get to as many of the meaty bits as possible, dissecting and sucking until it’s picked clean. Kam ja tang is served in most Korean restaurants, but Owl of Minerva introduced the dish to me and it’s where I return for a fix.

As difficult as it is to transport, Owl does delivery and takeout - the kam ja tang ($10.99) is vacuum sealed so that no drop of the fragrant soup is lost. Without the hot stone bowl, it’s warm on arrival, so we always re-heat it in a pot before tucking in. It needs to be enjoyed in its full glory: blistering hot, burning the fingers, and stinging the tongue. No pain, no delicious gain.

While waiting for the pork bone to re-heat, snack on an order of gu man du ($10.99). The deep-fried dumplings still surprisingly crispy and hot despite also being entombed in plastic. Truthfully, I’d much rather Owl switch to a piece of tin foil to wrap the beef dumpling instead of using so much plastic. We can all benefit from less waste and if someone wanted to re-heat the dumplings in the toaster oven, the tin foil will even save the customer a preparation step.

Back to the pork bone. Once it’s bubbling hot and placed into a bowl, here’s how I like to enjoy my kam ja tang: I help cool it slightly by placing a couple of pieces of kimchi into the bowl. I prefer the fermented cabbage hot and enjoy that extra bit of umami spice that the sauce adds to the broth. Then, it’s a hands-on marathon – first picking off the easy bits of meat with chopsticks, before switching to the primal eating ritual described earlier.

In between it all, I place bit-sized pieces of steam rice on a spoon before adding some broth to the utensil and getting a delicious mouthful of the salty garlicky soup. Some like to add all the rice into the broth and mix it with the meat, creating a Korean congee. I like mine separated, bite by bite. To each their own.

Once the pork bone is done, it’s down to the cabbage with rice. And if I’m feeling particularly ravenous, the hunks of soft potatoes will round out the meal. A meal from Owl of Minerva leaves you stuffed and almost uncomfortably full. It’s my quintessential meal during the winter, where a girl needs to eat to survive. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: Various locations (we ordered from Yonge and Finch)
 Delivery: Uber, Skip the Dishes
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!

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