Where chef Dwight Smith eats Jamaican patties, smoked meat sandwiches and Cantonese chow mein in Scarborough

Where chef Dwight Smith eats Jamaican patties, smoked meat sandwiches and Cantonese chow mein in Scarborough

The Scarborough-raised chef took us for a gastronomic tour of his old stomping grounds

Chef Dwight Smith eats a smoked meat sandwich at Toronto's Sumilicious

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After moving on from his role as chef de cuisine at Aloette, Dwight Smith has kept busy with his social channels. “My goal is to bridge the gap between restaurant chefs and home cooks by showcasing fun and flavourful recipes that people can make at home,” he says. Smith has also been cooking for private events and spearheading a dinner series that highlights Afro-Caribbean chefs and the diversity of the food found in the Caribbean. The first instalment was held during Caribana, and the next will take place during Black History Month. Overall, Smith says his aim is to build community through food education and collaborations.

Related: The story behind SumiLicious, the only Scarborough restaurant to receive a Michelin award

When he isn’t filming recipe demos for home cooks or nourishing people at events, Smith makes frequent trips back to Scarborough, where he grew up. “Ever since I got into Toronto’s food scene and started paying attention to the best-of lists, I realized how underrepresented some of the places in Scarborough are,” he says, adding that some of the best and most authentic GTA restaurants are in Scarborough. “Since then, I’ve been on a mission to not only discover hidden gems for myself but to recommend these places to my friends and family.” Here are a few of his favourite Scarborough spots.

Patty Time

2919 Lawrence Ave. E., 416-265-4555, no website

“I learned about this place from my friend Trey Sanderson, who’s also a chef. He posted about it on social media and said it was the best patty place in the city. So I was compelled to try it myself, and I agree—it’s amazing. It even inspired me to create my own patty recipe. In any case, my biggest Patty Time tip is to come right when they open, at 10:30 a.m., to avoid the lines and the crazy parking situation. If you come any later, you’ll need to park off-site and walk over. And remember to bring cash because they don’t take debit or credit.”

Chef Dwight Smith stands outside of Scarborough's Patty Time

Inside Patty Time, a takeout restaurant in Scarborough for Jamaican food

Go-to dish #1: Beef patty
Tasting notes: “You shouldn’t eat it piping hot, but even I don’t take my own advice—I just dive right in when it’s still screaming fire because I’m always too excited to tuck in. The filling is so juicy, and you get notes of allspice and thyme and a hit of scotch bonnet heat. It’s encased in this super crispy, buttery and flaky pastry. If you look closely, you can see the pockets of butter and how well they’ve laminated the dough. Sometimes, if I’m feeling extra indulgent, I’ll get some coco bread on the side. You could eat it on its own or stuff the patty inside to create a monster sandwich.”

A closeup look at one of Patty Time's beef patties

The inside of a beef patty at Scarborough's Patty Time

Go-to dish #2: Oxtail with rice
Tasting notes: “You gotta get right in there and eat this with your hands. This dish is 10 out of 10. The rich gravy coats the slow-cooked meat, which is soft and falls off the bone easily. It’s rich but balanced, with some seasoned cucumbers and sweet corn, which is something you don’t see very often. And I have to spotlight the rice and peas too. Most times, it’s very much an afterthought, thrown in there as a filler. But, here, because the owners are Chinese-Jamaican, they pay attention to and put care into the rice. This is a great lunchtime meal, and it’s very filling—although you may need a nap afterward.”

Chef Dwight Smith poses with a takeout container of Patty Time's oxtail

A clamshell container of oxtail and rice at Patty Time in Scarborough


5631 Steeles Ave. E., unit 5, 647-347-8899, sumilicious.ca

“SumiLicious was on my radar thanks to my friend Greg, the chef at Pinkerton’s Snack Bar. He told me about it a long time ago, but to be honest, I didn’t think too much about trying it—and then it received a Bib Gourmand award from Michelin. That was the reminder I needed. I tried it, and the rest is history. My biggest tip for SumiLicious is to avoid going on the weekends if you can. It’s madness on the weekends. Visit on a weekday and—as with Patty Time—right when it opens. This way, you can also avoid the weekday lunch rush.”

The dining room at Sumilicious, a deli in Scarborough

Awards hang on the wall of Sumilicious, a Scarborough deli

Go-to dish #1: Smoked-meat sandwich combo
Tasting notes: “The combo is great because you get pickles, coleslaw and seasoned hand-cut fries with the sandwich. If I’m feeling like a purist, though, I’ll just get the sandwich on its own. While you can ask for a certain level of fattiness on the meat, like at Montreal delis, I leave it in chef-owner Sumith Fernando’s hands. As a result, you get a bit of everything—lean, medium and fatty cuts. It’s so perfect; rich without being overwhelming or overly heavy. Because of the size of this sandwich, you basically need to unhinge your jaw to eat it. But I attack it using what I call ‘the snake,’ a move that involves kind of angling my head and attacking it from the side. To wash it all down, my go-to is their cherry soda. You cannot do anything else. Once, I tried it with Coke, and my followers on social media dragged me for it.”

Chef Dwight Smith holds a smoked meat sandwich at Sumilicious

Go-to dish #2: Smoked-meat poutine
Tasting notes: “It’s the same hand-cut fries that come with the combo, but they’ve been transformed. They’re covered in beef gravy, then topped with chopped smoked meat and squeaky cheese curds. It’s out of this world. The fries have a softer mouthfeel than the shoestring variety, but they still hold up well with the gravy, which isn’t overly salty. Then you get the creamy curds and back-notes of pepper.”

A bowl of smoked meat poutine at Scarborough's Sumilicious

Congee Queen

3850 Sheppard Ave. E., unit 0425, 416-321-8288, congeequeen.com

“I used to live in the Don Mills area and would frequent that location of Congee Queen. When my then-girlfriend moved to Scarborough, this location at Agincourt Mall became my staple spot. But all of their restaurants are reliable: they offer large portions at good prices, and you can always find a seat—even during their 6:30 p.m. dinner rush. At first, I used to get overwhelmed and anxious with the sheer amount of choices in the tome-size menu. But, through some trial and error, I found my holy trinity.”

The exterior of Congee Queen's Scarborough location

Chef Dwight Smith looks at the Congee Queen menu

Go-to dish #1: General Tao chicken (K22)
Tasting notes: “This is one of those guilty pleasures I can never deny myself. It arrives at the table glistening with this sweet-and-spicy red sauce that has a slight touch of heat from the chilis. I usually would recommend enjoying this with a bowl of steamed rice, but the fried rice works just as well. I also go for chicken instead of the usual pork, just because of taste preference. The dredging is done with cornstarch to keep the breading light and crunchy. It’s served with broccoli, green bell pepper, onion and sometimes pineapple—for some colour and to make you think it’s slightly healthy.”

A plate of General Tao's chicken at Congee Queen in Toronto

Chef Dwight Smith eats kung pao chicken at Scarborough's Congee Queen

Go-to dish #2: Shrimp and barbecue pork fried rice (H14)
Tasting notes: “You can tell how much I enjoy it by the big bites I take. It’s just so well-seasoned. I also like how they don’t skimp on the egg—they go the extra mile to get it all worked in. And as you chew, you get bites of their sweet and tender house barbecue pork and herbaceous scallions. And most importantly, they give the rice the respect and attention it deserves: it’s light, fluffy and never greasy. And there’s so much of it. It’s great as leftovers the next day.”

A plate of fried rice at Congee Queen in Scarborough

Go-to dish #3: Cantonese chow mein (E3)
Tasting notes: “The first thing that hits you is the dish’s vibrant colour. That in and of itself is a great indication that it’s going to taste good. I know that some people like to mix it all together, but I never do that; I want to preserve the layers of texture, which make it extra fun to eat: the crispy-crunchy egg noodles on the bottom, the sort-of softened saucy ones in the middle and all the goodies—scallops, squid, gai lan, mushrooms, beef and chicken—on top. It feels like a choose-your-own-adventure situation every time you tuck in, because every bite is different.”

A plate of Cantonese chow mein

Chef Dwight Smith uses chopsticks to eat noodles