None of my uncles are actually in Toronto. They are spread out mostly in either the US or Hong Kong. But, on this snowiest day in Toronto so far in 2017, JH and I decided to venture out to our reservation at Hungry Amoo. ‘Amoo’ means ‘Uncle’ in Farsi, so in my mind, I spent the morning with my hungry uncle and it was a pleasant, happy experience.
Hungry Amoo opened last year, and it has definitely been on my list of places to try in Toronto for quite awhile. Being that it is in winter, JH and I are less inclined to leave the house for meals these days, but on occasion, we will change out of pyjamas, shave a little of our winter hair, and make every effort to look reasonable for a ‘date’ with each other. I am also a
sucker SUCKER for brunch, especially brunch on a cloudy day where I get nothing but soft, winter light falling naturally over my sexy looking eggs.
With the amount of douchebag, clubby restaurants in Toronto continuing to grow and fester, I find there are not too many places anymore that keep a ‘cozy, family’ feel without looking like a dirty hole-in-the-wall (do not get me wrong – I LOVE dirty hole-in-the-wall restaurants; we need more of them, but sometimes you do want a pretty rustic table to sit at). Hungry Amoo felt different; it felt almost refreshing. The food was really fresh; the service felt so sincere; and the atmosphere packed feelings of winter coziness. I was also happy with the fact that I did not have to pack into a restaurant with 800 hipsters eating food that direly needs salt, fresher ingredients, or some semblance of creativity (re: Petit Dejeuner across the street from our house that has a consistent line up every week (rain, snow, sleet, Godzilla, apocalypse); and every week I want to throw old newspapers at these people because the food there is just NOT SPECIAL, and the service is as about as friendly as a rock).
Case in point, there is a snowstorm out there, so most restaurants are probably hitting very low numbers in capacity today. Who knows what the restaurant would have been like on some, clubby Friday evening – maybe a different vibe, who knows. Anyhow, JH and I really loved Hungry Amoo and we hope to go back again one day for dinner.
- Mood – I have cried every single day this week. But, for a perfect hour-and-a-half there, I felt really happy. This brunch made me happy and excited, and all those perfect feelings every where in between.
- Focus – Brunch.
- Craving – I want more of Hungry Amoo’s pancakes.
- Feedback from the husband – We ordered three dishes; he got a cocktail, while I ordered coffee. He loved two of the dishes, and did not quite like the third dish as much. I agreed; my fault, I ordered it. All in all, he was in super spirits, because the meal was complimentary (happy little gift in exchange for the fact that I have been becoming more and more involved with doing social media content). I guess he hopes from now on, he will not have to shell out so much to satisfy my love for trying new foods. Who knows, I guess we will have to see.
Hungry Amoo is located on 74 Ossington Avenue, right in the thick of the restaurant strip. It is definitely in a great area to be, and I would hope that the restaurant does well given its next door neighbour is the absolutely wonderful Union. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with a mixture of rustic and contemporary furniture. The space has maintained some its historical structure / foundation, thus the exposed brick walls at the very front. At the very front where we sat, there are two long communal tables (perfect for parties). We sat right by the window, to maximize natural light.
Along the front walls, there is a row of abstract paintings. It gives the place a bit of vibrance. I can imagine in my mind that at night time, the restaurant would perhaps give off a different vibe – perhaps a clubby vibe. The bar is purple tinted, and I did not love that as much because I think it took away from the rustic aesthetic of the restaurant front. However, when it comes to aesthetic, to each his own. I bet some people would say our condo looks like crap sometimes. I would tell them politely to leave and never come back, but I am getting off topic now.
Service was great throughout. There were only three people on staff – a girl acting as both the front of the house and our waitress, a bartender, and the chef in the back. Overall, everyone was really friendly. We found out from the bartender that the chef / staff is mostly Iranian. Knowing this, I felt sad again given the postponement of our trip to Iran this year. We were literally days to booking before the US announced the travel ban. But right now, given the amount that JH travels to the US for work, we do not want to take any risks. I am still very excited about our trip to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and I know that one day I will get to Iran. I just wish it could have been sooner because of all the stories I have heard about how amazing and real the people are (I hate touristy places – they make me want to barf and stay at home in Toronto…and that’s sad considering I hate Toronto). The staff at Hungry Amoo was a perfect testament of this. I swear even if the food was horrible, I probably would have liked the experience because the people were so nice.
Getting back to our experience however, the food was great. The menu was a basic brunch menu, but we really enjoyed most of the food that we ordered. As I mentioned before, everything tasted really fresh and hot out of the pan. We hardly waited for food and drinks either – everything came with good flow. There were 10 items on the brunch menu, and we ordered three dishes.
- Amoo’s Benedict – a pulled brisket benny on a really well-made biscuit with a side of fresh greens. Both the brisket and poached eggs were cooked perfectly. The salad had pickled squash, which was an interesting twist. It was a nice, fresh contrast to the heavier benny.
- The Daily Frittata – was a date and pork belly frittata, also with the same side salad. JH and I liked this dish the least. I ordered it because I love dates, but the dates were not especially prevalent. It was not because it was poorly cooked, but comparatively to the other dishes, it was not as much of a show-stopper. I surprised myself even because I always order a benny too, so I broke out of my pattern today.
- The Pancake Tower – THIS WAS ORGASMIC GOOD. I swear if I could lick the plate like a rabid animal I would. The pancakes were less fluffy and a little more dense than I am used to, but I really liked that different texture. It was a nice surprise, and they were stunning in height / stick and look. They also ate really well with the caramelized bananas, whipped cream and syrup.
JH decided to be a drunkard and ordered a hot toddy. It was a little bit of a different hot toddy – he said it tasted more citrusy and tangy versus apple-spiced. Most of their other cocktails looked really interesting (especially the one with pomegranate), but I am currently on too many pills to count, so french-pressed coffee was probably the smarter choice.
I think that if I were to part with one criticism, I would have loved to see some more Persian / Iranian influences infused into the menu. I know the dinner menu gives off more of a fusion / global vibe, but the brunch menu was just a brunch menu, and ethnic menus just excite me that just much more. But that’s just my opinion, and of course, every restaurant goes with what they think will work, and either it succeeds or doesn’t.
When we left, I felt a little jump in my stomach. Not because I was sick from eating too much sushi the day before, but because I felt a little affinity to the restaurant. The people were so nice, and the food was really well cooked. The prices were also really fair for a Toronto brunch given the portions. I really hope we go back soon. If only we lived near Ossington, I would definitely be back sooner. I really hope they do well. Toronto needs more restaurants like this.
Other Little Details
- Hungry Amoo – 74 Ossington Street;
- No dress code;
- Casual vibe – jazz was the prevailing background music;
- They specialize in globally-inspired sharing plates;
- Parking – street parking (free on Sunday mornings); there is Green P lot located nearer to Queen and Ossington;
- Accessible off the Queen streetcar.