Toronto, in all its multicultural glory, can also boast of the most interesting multiethnic variations on ethnic food. Fans of Chinese and Indian food may already have heard of Indian Hakka cooking.
The Hakka of China, part of the Chinese diaspora, migrated to coastal cities in the Caribbean, Africa, and India. Calcutta boasts a two-hundred year-old Chinatown called Tangra, where chefs combined Indian spices with traditional Hakka recipes to create dishes like Chilli Chicken, Hakka Noodles, and Manchurian curry. Chilli Chicken, a dynamite combination of soya sauce and green chillies, is to Indians what Balti Chicken is to the British.
In the late 1980s, many Hakka immigrated to Canada and brought with them their special cuisine. For Indians in the GTA, Federick’s Restaurant (1920 Ellesmere Rd) is considered the best place for the comfort food with a kick. It’s cheap and delicious, costing a mere $40 (dinner for two, with all taxes and tip).
There’s also Lucky (2650 Lawrence Avenue East), Federick’s rival, considered less greasy but not to par with Federick’s overall, according to this reviewer. There are also scores of Indian Hakka places in Brampton, Mississauga, and Scarborough. Most of them rarely get it wrong, but it’s best to go by word-of-mouth from those who eat it regularly.
Downtown, there’s Spadina Garden Restaurant (116 Dundas St. West). The food here is a middling rendition of Indian Hakka, but no comparison to Federick’s, and needs more cordial service. Nevertheless, if you want to avoid the trek to Federick’s, check it out.