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Where chef Johnson Wu gets takeout okonomiyaki, dim sum and shokupan in North York and Markham

We’re asking Toronto chefs and restaurateurs which takeout dishes have been getting them through the pandemic

Where chef Johnson Wu gets takeout okonomiyaki, dim sum and shokupan in North York and Markham

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Johnson Wu has used the past year for relaxation and reinvention. When the executive chef of Toronto’s Le Germain Hotel Maple Leaf Square was furloughed early in the pandemic, he used the opportunity to spend time with his children, but also to develop new concepts for when he was back in action at the hotel. Wu’s new “Wusian Fusian” menu is a fun one and features North American favourites punched with Asian pantry items. There’s Thai horse tartare, Taiwanese poutine, togarashi-torched octopus and “Fusian Brunch” on Sundays.

On his days off, Wu treats himself to takeout. “Being from Markham, I’m used to driving around to get to places, so I like going directly to restaurants to order food,” he says. “Right now, every little bit helps and I don’t want delivery companies taking a cut from the restaurants.” Here are some of his favourite spots to get food to go.

MeNami

5469 Yonge St., North York, 416-229-6191, menamitoronto.ca

“Move over, ramen. Say hello to fresh, homemade udon. It’s all about chew for me when it comes to noodles, and it doesn’t get better than a good sanuki udon. These guys have it down to an art; the texture of the noodles is simply amazing. Most of their dishes are meant to be shared. For a good time, grab some friends, some sake and dishes from MeNami.”

Go-to item 1: Tsuke udon Tasting notes: “You can’t order food here without trying one of their udon dishes. It’s a whole new noodle experience, the texture is unreal. The tsuke udon is udon in its purest form. The udon comes on its own and you decide how much of the sauce you want to use for dipping.”

 

Go-to item 2: Oven-baked udon Tasting notes: “Just imagine a Japanese-style carbonara smothered in cheese. It’s got bacon, it’s got shrimp. It’s creamy. It’s heaven.”

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Go-to item 3: Okonomiyaki Tasting notes: “Simple and bold, okonomiyaki is my type of food. It hits every note and you just can’t help but go back for more.”

 

Skyview Fusion Cuisine

#8-8261 Woodbine Ave., Markham, 905-944-9418, skyviewfusioncuisine.com

“My kids and I grab dim sum once or twice a month, it’s one of our weekend traditions. Skyview was a staple for us way before the pandemic, but their takeout game is just as strong as their dine-in game.”

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Go-to item 1: Snow mountain barbecue pork bun Tasting notes: “Talk about elevated. These guys take ordinary dim sum offerings and bring them to a new level. Take the snow mountain barbecue pork bun, for example. It’s this hybrid of a Hong Kong-style Mexican bun fused with a pork bun. What you get is this beautiful soft bun with a white crust—that’s where the “snow mountain” comes from—stuffed with sweet and salty barbecue pork. It’s magical, and I wish I had one right now.”

 

Go-to item 2: Honey cake Tasting notes: “This is called honey cake because it resembles honeycomb, but the taste is purely brown sugar. If you’re a fan of molasses, you need to give this a go. It’s steamed and light; there’s no frosting or sauce. And you don’t feel heavy even after eating the whole thing.”

Go-to item 3: Steamed salty egg yolk cream bun Tasting notes: “When a dish says salted duck yolk, it better taste like salted duck yolk. The steamed bun is soft, filled with sweet custard and salted duck yolk. I’m all about that sweet-and-savoury combination when it comes to dessert.”

 

Iki Shokupan

Pickup in Markham, @iki.shokupan

“I want to show some love to the home cooks that had the courage to open up their own businesses this past year. It’s inspiring to meet and speak to all these talented people and listen to their stories. Iki Shokupan stood out to me; I love their passion and tenacity to always strive to be better. I spoke to the owner recently and she mentioned they are expanding, so I’m excited to see what else they are bringing to the table in the coming months.”

Go-to item: Shokupan Tasting notes: “It’s bread baked to perfection. It’s the perfect balance of sweetness, richness and tenderness I’d expect from a good shokupan. My first order, I ate the whole loaf just tearing it from the bag—that’s how delicious it was. The bread is so versatile: eat it as it is, give it a toast, spread some foie on it, make a peanut butter and pickle sandwich—you name it. Heads up though, there is a wait list, as each loaf is baked fresh daily.”

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