One of the best parts of living in Toronto is the near-endless cuisine options ranging from Mom-n-Pop style greasy spoons to restaurants cooking up authentic fare from traditions the world over. We don’t have quite the selection of delights available in the city’s downtown core, but I love that Weston has welcomed new restaurants into the community. Wakame Sushi is busy (a good indicator that the fish isn’t kickin’ around for several days before it meets your dragon roll) and my neighbour swears the best chicken roti in the city is found at Ritz Caribbean Food on Jane Street. I plan to put his roti theory to the test soon.
But did you know that we have a Somali-Italian fusion restaurant in the neighbourhood? Yep – and I recommend you add it to your list of restaurants to try this summer. Wiff Restaurant opened it’s doors in August 2010 and have been cooking up good eats ever since. Cuisine in Somalia differs from region to region, and has been influenced by surrounding African countries and the relative close proximity to India. Somalia, like the vast majority of African countries, has experienced a long history of European colonization, hence the Somali-Italian fusion. The Somali owners of Wiff, Asha and Zahara speak fluent Italian in addition to Somali and English.
This past Saturday I was treated to a culinary smorgasbord of Somali and Italian cuisine at Wiff’s Taste of Somalia. The aromas alone were divine but it was the food that makes me want to return again soon. For 10 bucks, we were treated to a mountainous plate of delicacies ranging from superb roasted goat to moderately spicy but majorly tasty samosas. The pakoras were very flavorful and the chicken well cooked. Even the rice was great. I can’t report on the portion sizes of individual dishes as the food was set-up buffet style for the event and the chefs and volunteers filled our plates generously. I’d skip the iceburg-lettuce-salad though, but then again this may not be on the actual menu and only part of the offerings for the event. I should also mention that all of the food was piping hot temperature wise but not overly spicy. Sauces that offered serious heat were on offer but they’re optional.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that owners Asha and Zahara had run a restaurant for years in their native land of Somalia – experience, in this case, does make the difference. What did surprise me was the owners’ commitment to offering meals that use less fat and less salt while maintaining authentic and quality food. More often than not when a restaurant menu item denotes that it’s low-fat, it should also read low-taste, in my humble opinion. This was not the case at Wiff and I suspect that because the food is so well-seasoned and well-cooked, they don’t need to rely on excessive oils to up the flavour factor.
Asha has assured me that I had just begun to taste the flavours of Somalia and that Saturday was, as she put it, “the tip of the iceberg.” I’d go back if it indeed was the whole iceberg (so to speak) but I’m looking forward to tasting what else is on offer. With their hours of operation being 6am to 10pm, I’ll have lots of opportunities to head back.