Hello everyone! Summer is almost over and one of the biggest markers of this time of year is the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) that takes place at Exhibition Place in Toronto. I’ve gone every year since I was a baby – I used to go with my dad and he would win me prizes and buy us 99-cent spaghetti. As I got older, I started going with friends instead (my dad goes with my stepmom) and my focus shifted from prizes to shopping and of course – food. Now when I go with friends, we usually do several rounds of the Food Building. However, this year since I brought the HF (he had never been to The Ex before – WHAAAAT!?) – we actually only had 2 rounds since we shared everything and also had a little bite at Food Truck Frenzy in between.
The Food Building is a must at The Ex and every year there are new and exciting additions offering some of the craziest menu items (crickets, anyone?) I’m not one to eat bugs, but I am definitely one to try some Japanese street food-fusion. Enter Yatai!I first found out about Yatai on Instagram through the owner and head chef of Kanpai Snack Bar, Trevor Lui (who I randomly met at Taste of Toronto after striking up a conversation with his girlfriend.) As soon as I saw the menu, I knew I had to try the Godzilla Fries and the Ramen Burger. The Godzilla Fries are topped with teriyaki butter, nori, togarashi, cilantro, pickled cabbage, green onion, and their J-Pop chicken (basically their version of karaage.) I could eat this ALL DAY. The cilantro and cabbage really work to keep this bright and fresh while the J-Pop chicken is juicy and perfectly savoury. The Ramen Burger for me was just ok. While I enjoy the different texture of pan fried noodles instead of a bun, I think the burger was just missing some sort of acidity. A slice of tomato would’ve helped or some pickles – just something to really help enhance the flavours. The HF is more of a burger connoisseur than I am and he was slightly disappointed. We both agreed that the patty needed more seasoning although it was very tender and juicy – again, some punch of acidity would’ve helped kick it up a notch. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed with Yatai and I’m glad I tried their ramen burger!We decided to divide and conquer so I had no idea where the HF would go. He ended up choosing the Taco Mac and Cheese from the Mac and Cheesery and I think it was the Bronx something sandwich from Porkies Porchetta (I can’t remember the name). The mac and cheese was delicious as expected (I think it’s kind of hard to mess up mac and cheese) but the star of his picks was definitely the sandwich. It had grilled peppers and onions and the porchetta was perfectly cooked. It was complemented with the bun which was soft and had the perfect bun to filling ratio. We went on the Saturday of Food Truck Frenzy, where tons of food trucks are parked right at the Princes’ Gates and you have a plethora of options. After perusing the different menus, we decided on Frankly, Scarlett which featured Asian-inspired hot dogs (clearly, I’m in an Asian-flavour phase.) I got the Nippon (we shared anyway) which had a jumbo beef hotdog with wakame salad, okonomi, wasabi kewpie, furikake, and nori. The wasabi was a nice touch as it provided the subtle horseradish flavour and the different forms of seaweed were exactly as expected – delicious. The HF got the Ho Chi Banh Mi which had Vietnamese sausage on a French baguette with pickled slaw, hoisin kewpie, and chilis. I actually preferred this one because it tasted so fresh with the slaw, but the chilis definitely made my lips burn for a while (yes, I’m a wuss!)We did return to the Food Building one more time before we headed back to Hamilton because he wanted a Colossal Onion (aka blooming onion) but I didn’t take a picture because really – it’s pretty self explanatory. It was definitely a better one that I’ve had – very crispy and the dipping sauce (kind of like a chipotle-tartare sauce or something) worked perfectly well with it. $12 for a fried onion though? They’re definitely making mad profits LOL. We also indulged in Tiny Tom’s Donuts (again, he had never experienced this classic Ex staple) for the train ride – apple cinnamon ftw!
All in all, it was a great day at the Ex filled with delicious food and lots of walking around. We also caught the Superdogs show and Chef Mark McEwan’s cooking presentation which was really interesting (he cooked octopus!) I love The Ex and will likely continue going every year for the rest of my life!
Thanks so much to the CNE for the media passes this year – definitely appreciated.
Thanks to the Handsome Foodie for being my +1 and sharing food with me – I’m glad that I got to spend the day with you for your first CNE experience.
Finally, thank YOU for stopping by! Let me know what you end up eating or what your favourite Ex eats/events are!
The Canadian National Exhibition is on now until Labour Day at Exhibition Place in Toronto. For more information and online tickets, you can check out http://www.theex.com.