David Schwartz’s favourite spots
Off the clock with Rasa Bar’s line cook
By Corey Mintz
David Schwartz is a noodle fanatic.
“I predominately eat Asian food,” says Schwartz, a line cook at the always-buzzing restaurant, Rasa, in Toronto’s Harbord Village. “And that includes an absurd amount of noodles.”
Schwartz makes an exception for breakfast, which he prepares for himself once he gets into work—usually a bowl of yogurt with coco nibs and nuts or fresh fruit. On the line at Rasa—a restaurant opened by the Food Dudes, a catering company, in 2014— he cooks a Torontonian blend of Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian and Spanish influenced dishes.
When Schwartz is off the clock and eating out, it really is almost strictly noodles. “I’ve been to every ramen place in Toronto,” he says. “And Santouka is far and away my favourite.” There, Schwartz usually orders the toroniku ramen with pork jowl: “You can either set up each bite individually or mix it into the soup with the wood ear mushroom, scallion and noodle.”
For pho, he’ll go to Pho Mi Asia, where they serve it traditional—with tendon—which he finds tastier than anywhere else. “It gets bonus points because it's next door to a Value Village so I can fulfill my other obsession of buying cool plates,” he says.
And while he says he’s been to the “ends of Markham” (where people love to tell you the food is superior than Toronto’s urban Chinatowns), he’s at Anne’s Magic Kitchen downtown once a week. “That’s my Szechuan fix,” he says. Two of his staples there are the dandan noodles (handmade and coated in fiery peanut sauce, ground pork and cucumbers) and dry pot cauliflower (fried florets tossed in chillies and oil served on a portable burner).
Not much of a drinker, Schwartz doesn’t frequent any bars, but he likes to try new beers when dining out. Recent favourites include Lost Paradise, a sour beer by Toronto brewery Blood Brothers served at Hopgood’s Foodliner and, at Bar Isabel, another sour beer called Rodenbach Vintage 2013. “It kind of tasted like nail polish remover,” he said. “I don’t know why I’m attracted to that flavour, but I am. I’ll go into these restaurants and ask for something sour, funky and weird.”
Schwartz enjoys hosting dinner at his Yonge and Eglinton apartment, and one of his favourite pastimes is wandering around supermarkets. “I’m addicted to grocery stores. Even if I don’t need to buy anything for a meal, I go to Fiesta Farms a lot just to walk around and see if there’s anything new,” he says. “I went to Cheese Boutique a few weeks ago and it might be my favourite place in the city.”
196 Robert St.
91 Dundas St. E.
Pho Mi Asia
1008 Wilson Ave.
Anne’s Magic Kitchen
414 Dundas St W.
325 Roncesvalles Ave.
797 College St.
200 Christie St.
45 Ripley Ave.