Ten Toronto chefs on the best dishes they ate in 2022

Ten Toronto chefs on the best dishes they ate in 2022

Including a perfect pizza slice, some stellar scallops and luscious lamb korma

After months and months of lockdowns and restrictions—and CaféTO patios and takeout pivots—2022 was the year we were finally able to fully embrace indoor dining again. We reached out to 10 of the city’s chefs to find out what their most memorable dishes of the year were. From multi-course tasting menus to decadent desserts and simple-is-best slices of pizza, these are the dishes they’re still thinking about.

Photo courtesy of Eva Chin

Eva Chin

Executive chef, Avling Kitchen and Brewery
Favourite dish: Wok-fried chicken gizzards, garlic scapes and fermented long beans from Hunan Restaurant. $17.99
Tasting notes: “It’s a reflection of authentic Xiang cuisine from western Hunan. It’s very rare to find in Toronto currently, and it was beautifully done. It’s texturally crunchy and tender at the same time, with lots of heat—but not in a way where you can’t feel your tongue.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pizzeria Badiali (@pizzeriabadiali)

Solomon Mason

Executive chef, Aloette
Favourite dish: Vodka pizza slice with pepperoncini dip from Pizzeria Badiali. $6
Tasting notes: “I’ve lined up here to get one of these slices probably 20 times this year—it’s the only restaurant I keep returning to over and over again. Their pizza is a prime example of the culmination of doing everything just a little bit better. The crust is chewy, with the perfect thickness, and it’s got that hot-out-of-the-oven crunch. And the sauce is rich and full of flavour because they use Bianco Di Napoli tomatoes. You can’t beat it for the price—it’s as much of a culinary experience as going to a white-tablecloth restaurant but with none of the frills. If you don’t want to be disappointed, you should either pre-order a whole pie or arrive early because they often sell out.”

Monika Wahba

Chef and co-owner, Maha’s Egyptian Brunch
Favourite dish: Newfoundland scallops served in their shells from Quetzal. $38
Tasting notes: “My partner, James, took me here for my 32nd birthday dinner, and everything was amazing. I love scallops, and these were absolutely succulent and grilled to perfection. Wood-fire grilling is unmatchable and unmistakable and was the perfect treatment for these scallops. They were given just a quick fire for that wood-fire flavour infusion, a hint of acidity and perfect seasoning to bring out the scallops’ natural sweetness. They arrived at the table still in their shells, with ramp butter, sea asparagus and Morita chilies, which are subtle and not overwhelming. I asked to keep the shells. Chef Steven was super sweet, and he made our dinner very special. When they received a Michelin star, I was thrilled—it was well-deserved. Quetzal is a perfect date spot.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sushi Kaji (@sushi_kaji)

Marvin Palomo

Head chef, Vela
Favourite dish: Gindara saikyo-yaki from Sushi Kaji. $160
Tasting notes: “I recently went to Sushi Kaji for the tasting menu and it was one of the best things I ate all year. Seeing chef Mitsuhiro Kaji at work was an incredible experience—It’s very rare to see chefs his age still in the kitchen. My favourite dish was the grilled black cod marinated in saikyo miso. It was served with a side of Hatcho miso sauce, spinach with white sesame sauce, tamago (Japanese-style omelette) and arrowhead chips. The fish melted in my mouth, and the combination of nuttiness from the spinach and sweetness from the Hatcho miso sauce made for a perfectly balanced dish.”

Photo courtesy of Nicky Charles-Page

Nicky Charles-Page

Chef and co-owner, SugarKane Restaurant
Favourite dish: Pappardelle alla vodka from Pizzeria Moretti. $34
Tasting notes: “There were so many different dishes that I tried this year that I absolutely loved, so it was hard to choose just one. But, if I had to, it would be this particular pasta that I had on my birthday. It’s made with fresh mozzarella, vodka, San Marzano tomatoes, cream and basil. It was creamy and fresh, and the pappardelle was cooked to perfection.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Edomae Kiyomi (@edomae_kiyomi)

Michael Lam

Chef and owner, Good Behaviour
Favourite dish: Hotate from Edomae Kiyomi. $195
Tasting notes: “This was part of a multi-course Tempura Omakase experience. The entire dinner was fantastic, but these few bites were exceptionally memorable. Tempura is a typical Japanese dish, and in this case it involved scallop that was battered and deep fried. While most deep-fried items are oily and heavy, this was far from that. A light, delicate yet crispy exterior was the perfect shell for the moist and expertly seasoned large scallop. The batter was just thick enough to protect the scallop and nothing more.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dessert makes you happy (@roselle_to)

Ivana Raca

Chef and owner, Ivana Raca Catering
Favourite dish: Pavlova from Roselle. $34
Tasting notes: “My favourite place in Toronto for desserts is Roselle. Their Roselle x Soma Black Forest Pavlova is out of this world. There’s a sour cherry and kirsch compote, vanilla whipped cream and an absolutely incredible marshmallow pavlova. It’s all finished with a sprinkle of Soma chocolate shavings. I love it because it’s perfectly balanced, light and rich at the same time. It’s one of the best desserts I have ever tried. I’m pretty sure I could eat one every day—and I want one now!”

Photo by Ebti Nabag

Bianca Osbourne

Chef, TV personality
Favourite dish: Shrimp toast from Henry’s Restaurant and Wine Bar. $14
Tasting notes: “One of my favourite pastimes is dining out. And, while I feel lucky that I get to eat delicious food all year round, what knocked me out this year was the shrimp toast at Henry’s. It’s crispy and savoury, and it has the perfect amount of umami. I dreamt about it for weeks afterward. My business involves remixing others’ recipes, but I wouldn’t dare try to recreate this dish—there just isn’t any room for improvement!”

Photo courtesy of Arush Singh

Arush Singh

Chef, Elevator Bistro
Favourite dish: Lamb korma from Bukhara Grill. $17
Tasting notes: “I grew up in New Delhi, which is a vast melting pot of Indian cuisine and culture, rife with bold and exciting flavours. It was a blessing to be able to savour a fraction of the myriad tastes and textures from my youth into early adulthood. Korma is a complex Mughal dish. The foundation of the gravy is built with fried onion paste, toasted almonds, yogurt and mace. This was the first time in seven years, since moving to Canada, that I felt the warmth of home and was reminded of the flavours I had savoured in the streets of Delhi. It really took me back. I have since returned multiple times—I always enjoy it with palak paneer, butter chicken and tandoori roti—and I’ve never been disappointed.”

Roger Moore

Head chef, Carens Rosedale
Favourite dish: Duck confit from Acqua Dolce. $34
Tasting notes: “My close friend and mentor chef Richard Zephyrine made a fabulous duck confit with deliciously sweet plums doused in red wine and port. The meat itself was so tender that it was falling off the bone and melting in my mouth with all the jus. It was simply divine. Richard is from the West Indies, and he understands the well-seasoned, slowly and steadily cooked meat this dish needs to shine.”