Monthly Archives: March 2014

Burrito Boyz

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march break

Right, so to start off, here’s a summary of how my March Break went [if you are just here for the review, you can skip this paragraph, it won’t do you or I any harm].  It started off with me being only one of two people at tae kwon do on Monday, with feelings of disappointment and loneliness, which was cured with a Tuesday mall trip and a meeting with a friend on literally the only day there was a huge blizzard*.  I lazed around on my back for such a large amount of my time and reaffirmed my beliefs that in the distant future humanity will evolve into fat slug-like things that do nothing but live on the internet 24/7 with an inexhaustible supply of food.
wall e fat people
 A part of the Ukraine was crazy enough to join Russia, and a huge plane was hijacked and disappeared in a maddening mystery, but my life was decidedly more normal when I went to Burrito Boyz (their College St location)  [my god was that a forced connection].
*to answer your question, yes I have friends, some my age, others not, some male, some female, some relatively normal and others complete wackos like me.

burrito boyz college st

Wow, I actually did something on the internet self-obsessed enough to go on Facebook  (except of course in regards to Callumeatstoronto), which is an odyssey because I run from normal teenage usage of internet socialization the same way a creationist runs from dinosaurs [yes I know that’s offensive and I’ll burn in hell for it, but you know it’s true!].  This post is part of a new series where I will be reviewing BlogTO’s article: Toronto’s Top Ten Famous Restaurants  and Burrito Boyz is the start.  Interestingly, Burrito Bandidos is an offshoot  of this chain, because its owners had a disagreement  for some unknown reason, and there is some delicious irony to be had here.
food irony
Impressions were low, with the place not looking too fancy [which I would be totally fine with if the food was good, as I have been countless times], but the ride on the streetcar back home had better heating than this place!  I’m pretty sure the only things aside from the food-cooking stove and the warm human bodies of the employees and customers, the only thing that generated heat was the hand dryer in the bathroom which I used with extreme relish.  To throw gasoline on the fire, or more appropriately in light of recent events, to put Vladimir Putin on [pick one] /gay rights issue/Ukranian riots/allegations of Syrian chemical weapons*, the furniture was all metal and seemed only to conduct the temperature into our bodies, much as metal does in when exposed to hot or cold air.
burrito boyz
 Not even the bathroom’s tap ran hot water, and the food was cooked enough to not be room temperature but not hot enough to heat up customer’s mouths, making me feel the cold is intentional [in a way eerily close to how Scrooge stole coal from Crachit], and the hand dryer was an overlooked factor, no doubt being replaced by paper towels right now as the Boyz read this.
*this was an elaborate satire my twisted psyche came up with to say that I don’t agree with Vladimir Putin’s latest policies, for those who couldn’t get past the obscurity and randomness of the comment.
Again, the food better be pretty damn good [I made fun of Christianity and made jokes about Russia being bad and went to far as to make a brief jab at chemical warfare, do you really think I’m going to censor the word damn?] to save this joint.  Well… let’s just start.
My chicken and sweet potato burrito

My chicken and sweet potato burrito

 The large-sized burrito was big, but didn’t live up to the standards of the ridiculously big Chipotle burrito, which is a big thing since people like me are partially in it for far-bigger-than-is-healthy proportions.
My mom was still hungry after this

My mom was still hungry after this

 And the gluten-free sizes are smaller than a regular small, which supports my previous theories that the Boyz are either Mr. Krabs-like cheapskates or hate the customers for some reason: what better way to punish customers than to pick on a minority who already can’t eat much?
 toppings available  to choose from

toppings available to choose from

As for the contents of the whole wheat burrito, I had the sweet-potato chicken large with refried beans, black beans, cheese salsa and burrito sauce as topping.  I know I ordered sweet potato, but I couldn’t help but feel there was little too much of it, at least when compared to the chicken, of which there was still a lot of.  While tender and in good sizes and proportion [not comparing to the sweet potato, but by itself], it is just cooked chicken, no grilling or marinating.
conquistador conquer aztec
 It’s kind of like the Conquistadors realizing that the Aztecs they just finished wiping out and converting to The Empire [I can’t say Christianity again… I’ll get in trouble] had far better cooking methods than they did, and started to cook in a more bland way hoping people wouldn’t figure out that other Mexicans still knew the secrets of doing remotely something to the chicken to add a modicum of unique flavour [good god that was a contrived way to bring in more history, violence and controversy for entertainment, ugh].
 No, I’m not too pleased, and here’s where the irony comes in, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you got it already: Burrito Bandido is better than Burrito Boyz.  That’s right, I didn’t have to say Chipotle Mexican Grill is even  better, although that is equally true, Burrito Boyz’ own creation is better than it!  That’s kind of like the end of Empire Strikes Back but in reverse [picture that scene where Mark Hamil says ‘No Darth, I am your son’ and James Earl Jones screams ‘Noooooooooo!  That’s impossible!’].

So why so popular?  One answer: hype.  When something gets popular, while it can be good, it leads to some horrors, fan theories about The Shining being about Stanley Kubrick having to fake the Apollo Moon Landings are a good example {link to 11  ludicrous fan theories that actually make sense}, but things that get acclaim even though they’re crappy are a more fitting example.  Subscribers no doubt know how I feel about The Burger’s Priest, and my feelings for The Great Gatsby and Inception are being saved for a future non-food related post.  The food was good at Burrito Boyz, no denying that, but competition on the same level as this chain is far better, and if you’re gluten-free than you’re overcharged for a skimpy portion and sent to cold metal chair;  Oliver Twist style.  It’s not good if I can make connections to Dickensian themes in a way someone who is far more sane than I am, could.
image courtesy of moonconspiracy.wordpress.com

image courtesy of moonconspiracy.wordpress.com

In short, Burrito Boyz does not live up to hype in any stretch of the imagination, and the only thing that stands out in a positive way are how the Koodo advertisements in the bathroom are actually toilet jokes when you think about them.
koodo
 Fine, the service was speedy and actually very polite considering I was acting weird and taking ordering oddly, so props to them, it’s the owners I have a beef with. I would do my typical go-here-if-you’re-in-the-neighborhood-but-seek-out-better-competition-if-not thing, but even if you have a really heavy Mexican craving, shrug it off to go for Italian instead, and if your friend/family has the craving, tell them to shut up about it [just don’t say you’ll buy it, they’ll probably order wine or something expensive if they think like me but are evil enough to do it].   An over-hyped disappointment is decidedly a bad way to start this adventure off, but it’s a fun excuse to rant.  Cynically, I could say this is a forewarning of more overrated places on the Top Ten List, but I’d like to think this is a fluke.  The optimist and pessimist inside me are fighting again.  Until we meet again.
Burrito Boyz 575 College Street

Burrito Boyz on Urbanspoon

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Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant

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Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant
So after Dukem closed to be relocated, in a manner I perceive to be like The Real Jerk: regular news updates, some chance, desperation after the time passes on, sparse contact at all after some months, every single shred of hope depleted and then bam, a new place.  Hopefully it won’t be that close, but it could go that way.  Anyways, Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant  is on Danforth in a budding Ethiopian neighborhood [it isn’t called Little Ethiopia or anything, but demographically and culturally it’s starting to get that way], and it’s gluten free too.
injera
 The waitress explained that the injera is originally gluten free anyways, but wheat is added because it gets a little flat on the long trip from its home country.  I personally found it interesting that the injera is easier to make overseas and have it shipped than simply cooking it here, must be the climate.
Wazema interior
The pleasantly dark decor was reminiscent of the past, rather like watching someone do something that ended in disaster the first time because they think it’ll be different [like WWII or any American foreign policy decision from the last 30 years or so], but that’s a good thing unlike my politically-based examples.  Staff was polite and the food came relatively quick, but there is a problem.
I’ll get on with the good stuff first.  We got the Wazema Platter for two, which came with Tibs [spicy cubes of marinated meat], Kitfo [rare, tender ground beef] a load of lentils, with some cheese, cabbage and regular salad.  And injera, of course.
The Tibs is in the middle of the platter, the Kitfo just above and the various lentils are surrounding

The Tibs is in the middle of the platter, the Kitfo just above and the various lentils are surrounding

 Again, I like the method of eating with bread, which is much more efficient than using a knife made of expensive metal just to spread butter on a piece of other-wise unused toast.  I realize that a lot more metal is used in things like iPhones, space stations and intercontinental rocket-propelled nuclear warheads*, but I’m talking about when injera was invented thousands of years ago and steel was scarce/being invented.  Also, it’s fun.
*It may seem like the nuclear example was the only evil example on that list, but look up PRISM and kinetic bombardment and you’ll see that’s not true.
prism surveillance
After giving away three good tricks to conquering the Earth [at least I didn’t mention the sun gun, dammit too late], here’s how the food was.  Everything was delicious, with just enough spice to add flavour but not too much as to mask it.  The meat took up a large ratio of the food, the kitfo being fluffy bits of elegantly spiced protein, and the tibs were toothier with some more kick to them.  Even though there were a lot of lentils, the varying degrees of seasoning and ingredients made sure there was a lot more difference than just colour.  There was also some high-grade, cottage cheese like stuff with it, and the cabbage/potato mix added some good, full bodied savoury tastes to the mix.  And there’s a salad too, like anyone cares.

Right, the problem: the portions are small!  Compared to Dukem’s, and Rendezvous which is still in business, Wazema’s portions pale in comparison.  The amount of food is even more maddening because the food is delicious, making this a bigger deal.  It also forces me to give a mixed review, on the one hand I can say, “The food is wonderful, so I can’t say this place is bad!”  or I can say, “The twenty dollar meant-for-two people dish that looked like enough for one person wasn’t anywhere near a good price, but it was one quarter filling.”  So yeah, mixed review.
the danforth map
But there is a solution.  I have this thing were, in the event of an inconclusive result, I compare the restaurant to neighboring places.  If the competition is better, then I trash the place, but if it’s farther away than I give it an ‘if you’re in the area’ approval.  So I do the same again, while it is possible for someone to get a craving for Ethiopian food while in the neighborhood of Wazema, it’s more of a place people travel to, which makes it not as recommendable as Rendezvous [or Dukem’s when they reopen].
dinosaur meteor
 That’s my final word, just one fatal flaw, everyone has one.  Dinosaurs with the fact that they were too big to survive a meteorite, Canada and Russia with the fact that we’re both too cold to be hospitable in 99% of both countries, Hollywood with the fact that they haven’t come up with an original story in years and Wazema with the fact that they’re portions are too stingy.  Well, that’s my review, bye bye.
Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant 1360 Danforth Avenue

Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon