Who Are We? We’re BFFs whose love of stuffing our faces has taken us to the US and Europe in search of the world’s top restaurants. But recently, we decided to have some food adventures closer to home. We’re setting out to try one new (or at least new to us) Toronto restaurant every week for a year – or at least until we can no longer fit into our clothes.
And here’s the catch… we want to give you an authentic experience so all of our reviews are done anonymously. As far as the restaurant is concerned, we’re just two patrons who take lots of photos of their food. Or are we?
This week, we hit up the recently opened Kanga in the Entertainment District.
Address: 65 Duncan Street
Vibe: Casual grab-and-go
Closest subway: Osgoode Station
Drink menu: Not licensed
Service: Friendly and helpful
First Impressions: There’s something to be said for a place that sticks to doing one thing, and doing it well. Such is the case with Kanga, a small shop near MuchMusic that specializes in Australian meat pies. Unlike the meat pies we’re used to, these are individually portioned and meant to be eaten with your hands. (“Don't use utensils. Just eat it just like you would eat a hamburger,” the perky cashier advised us.) Kanga prides itself on wholesome ingredients, from their locally raised beef to their fresh herbs and veggies to their crusts made with real butter.
The Traditional Aussie ($6.95)
We started with their most popular pie: The Traditional Aussie. Unlike the shredded meat we’re used to in tourtiere, the minced beef in this version came in a rich beef and tomato gravy. It was mildly spiced and almost tasted like the bottom of a shepherd’s pie. Even though the Kanga employees urged us to eat it straight out of the bag, we wouldn’t have said no to a plate as it got a bit messy. We were almost dissuaded from ordering it when we noticed Vegemite in the ingredients list, but luckily, that weird acquired taste that they love Down Under was barely noticeable. This one went really well with a dab of ketchup.
El Diablo ($7.50)
This pie was filled with slow-roasted pulled pork that had been seasoned with their signature spice blend and sweet BBQ sauce. It was yummy but despite its name, there was very little heat. We also wished the piped mashed potato on top stayed soft instead of forming into a hard crust.
The Canadian ($7.75)
We saved the best for last. The Canadian was the clear winner of the night, bursting with steak that’d been braised with Amsterdam Downtown Brown Ale. The filling also included bacon, chunks of firm carrots, and a wonderfully flavorful gravy made with Australian Shiraz. Kanga also gives you the option to "poutine your pie" by smothering it in gravy, fries and curds, which we chose to do with this one, which meant we got double the gravy. Score!
Final Thoughts: If you’re looking for a quick takeout place in the downtown core, Kanga serves up portable comfort food to go – though there is also limited seating available. Their buttery, flaky crusts can’t be beat, while the wide variety of pies will have us coming back for more (we’re especially interested in trying the butter chicken, masala, and creamy zucchini versions). There are frozen pies available to purchase, and the shop also serves Propeller coffee and desserts made in-house.