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Where Roselle Desserts co-owner and pastry chef Stephanie Duong gets to-go sushi, Vietnamese platters and pizza

Where Roselle Desserts co-owner and pastry chef Stephanie Duong gets to-go sushi, Vietnamese platters and pizza
Lee and Duong, in their (now-closed) west-end bakeshop Photo by Michael Gozum

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Since opening in 2015, Roselle has been satisfying Toronto’s sweet teeth with delicious desserts. Co-owner and pastry chef Stephanie Duong met her business (and life) partner, Bruce Lee, while they worked overseas in various Michelin-starred kitchens, eventually returning to Toronto to introduce the budding food scene to their delightful French confections.

It’s been a year of upheaval for the couple—they closed their one-year-old west-end location to focus on their original Corktown space. The takeout-only operation runs Fridays to Sundays (pre-orders are recommended to avoid disappointment) and features a changing selection of items like eclairs, mille-feuille, madeleines, nougat and trifle-like cake in a cup. They’ve also just launched a holiday menu that includes a festive Paris-Brest and stunning seasonal buche that have been resized to accommodate for smaller-than-usual holiday gatherings. While Duong and Lee do a lot of cooking at home, they also get takeout at least once a week. “It’s so important to support the restaurants we love, or risk losing a lot of what makes Toronto such a vibrant and unique place.”

Mi Mi Restaurant

688 Gerrard St. E., 416-778-5948, mimivietnameserestaurant.com

“Mimi’s is a small, family-run Vietnamese restaurant in East Chinatown. We’ve been going to Mimi’s for years now—typically on days when we’re too exhausted to cook, but craving some home cooking. They specialize in grilled meats, which you can enjoy in a DIY platter or in their vermicelli noodle bowls.”

Go-to item 1: Banh hoi dac biet (assorted meats) Tasting notes: “This DIY rice paper roll platter comes with some grilled pork sausage, shrimp on sugarcane and beef slices with cooked vermicelli, a whole bunch of fresh lettuces and herbs, rice paper wrappers and some of the house-made dipping sauce. The nem nhuong (grilled pork sausage) is perfectly charred and juicy, and you can tell they make their own sugarcane shrimp. We love taking a little bit of meat, tearing some fresh herbs, adding in some of the bouncy vermicelli with fragrant scallion oil and peanuts, and rolling it all up. It travels extremely well as a takeout item.”

Go-to item 2: Goi xoai (mango shrimp salad) Tasting notes: “This is the perfect side dish. They always use very ripe, juicy mangos that are cut into thick satisfying strips, tossed with shredded herbs and finished with roasted peanuts. We’ll eat it as a palate cleanser or even add it to our rice wrapper rolls.”

Go-to item 3: Cha gio (deep-fried pork spring rolls) Tasting notes: “These are always freshly fried and piping hot. Surprisingly, they travel well as a takeout item; the wrapper is still shatteringly crisp. The filling is packed with flavour from ground pork, taro and veggies. We usually end up eating at least half the order in the car on the way home.”

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Shunuko

1201 St. Clair Ave. W., 647-748-7288, shunoko.com

“We’ve been long-time customers and supporters of this delicious sushi restaurant. They used to have a tiny takeout-only outpost on Roncesvalles called Sushi Nomi. Since they moved to their bigger St. Clair West location, the food has gotten even better as the chefs now have more space to work.”

Go-to item 1: Can’t Go Wrong roll Tasting notes: “This dish describes itself perfectly! This roll is made with shrimp tempura, avocado, asparagus, spicy scallop, tobiko and green onion with a blowtorched spicy mayo. It is crispy, creamy and packed with umami.”

Go-to item 2: Sushi Saiko set menu Tasting notes: “This is a gateway dish to the beauty of Shunoko. Every piece of fresh sushi is garnished with a seasoning that pairs wonderfully with the fish. Their sushi roll is filled with tuna tartare and finely julienned iceberg lettuce for freshness and crunch.”

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Big Trouble Pizza

235 Spadina Ave., #1, 416-596-0305, bigtroublepizza.com

“Big Trouble is known for their Toronto-style pizza, which is different from any pizza you’ll ever have because of its focaccia-like airy and crispy crust. We love how much fun Mikey Pamaputera and his team have with the menu, even though they are meticulous and dedicate so much time to getting everything just right. They’ve been doing a lot of collaborations during the pandemic and will often feature a special item.”

Go-to dish 1: Kung-Funghi pizza Tasting notes: “This pie has sliced portobello mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, mozzarella, sweet onion and chives, and it’s finished with truffle oil and bright dollops of their tangy house-made chili jelly. Each bite is so satisfying: the meaty mushrooms, the slight sweetness of the onions, the pop of flavour from the jelly and that chewy crust.”

Go-to dish 2: Butter Jam Jam pizza Tasting notes: “This is one of their signature pies. I was hesitant about this flavour at first. Is it savoury? Is it dessert? What am I eating? Between the tart raspberry jam, that undeniable taste of butter, stretchy mozzarella, bright balsamic reduction and touch of lemon zest, it definitely straddles the line between savoury and sweet in the very best way. All of the toppings work beautifully together, and paired with that same pizza crust, it’s truly a unique slice.”

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Go-to dish 3: Smash burger Tasting notes: “This was an item they were featuring on Tuesdays during the summer. The burger has a grilled beef patty, cheese, iceberg lettuce, onions, pickles, mayo and ketchup. Though deceptively simple, it is anything but. The soft potato roll is lightly kissed on the grill; the patty has that addictive, crunchy lacy edge of maillard browning, and all the toppings are super fresh. It’s hard to eat just one. Hopefully they’ll continue to offer this on their regular collaborative rotation.”

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