Originally Posted by Fuuma
What would be interesting is to hear people in their 30s and 40s who post here talk about how people who liked eating well (especially in"ethnic" restaurants) were going about it in the 80s and 90s, I'm thinking of guys like LAGuy who I'm guessing was big into that if he lived in LA.
I lived in the LA in the late 90s, and I lived a weekend trip away from Toronto before that.
The thing about both of those cities that makes the food so great, perhaps ironically, is that they are "not" dense in the same way NYC is. I once drove with a friend from Long Beach to Tarzana (don't ask why) and it took a full 2 hours. So, you keep on finding new shit that would never happen in NYC. Little hole in the strip mall places that could not survive in NYC if they are not selling some trendy shit, and yes, I am looking at you, Banh Mi. I mean, I had a good friend from the Szechuan region who took me to a very non-descript restaurant beside an adult bookstore and a laundromat that served real, and really good, and spine-seizure inducing, spicy, Szechuan food. That place was mostly frequented by szechuan people, with the occasional Cantonese friend and gwai lo. In NYC, this place would have been talked about until it died because of hipsters looking for an authentic experience or something.
Toronto is the same. The best Chinese food (and when I talk about Chinese food, I really mean Cantonese food, which is what most people know anyway) is not in Chinatown. Chinatown is sorta the ghetto. The better restaurants are all in North Toronto, all over the strip malls, and they all sport the "red and gold" look for proper restaurants, or "all bathroom tile, all the time" look, for noodle shops (incidentally, those are usually not considered proper dinner.) Lunch, yes, snack, yes. However, a proper dinner requires rice.
None of the Chinese people I know who really life food give a shit about Michelin stars. I have a few friends and an uncle who do know that stuff, but mainly because they have or had positions in which they had to entertain white people. In fact, a lot of the criteria for obtaining a Michelin star would not make any sense in these food cultures. Personally, although I've been to a fair number of three star ones, I actually prefer the single star, bistro style places, because I know that one of the reasons they couldn't get a second star was because the restaurant is too casual.
Anyway, back to Fuuma's question. I would go to restaurants (Chinese and Italian) which were recommended to me, usually by family friends, since twenty year olds rarely have the experience that a 40 year old does. You simply have not eaten as much. Probably, most of these places, I would never have found on my own. These days, I still take personal recommendations from people whose taste I trust. I don't trust Yelp, which is full of people who think that Appleby's is fucking great, or Chowhound, which is full of the food equivalent of dudes with handlebar mustaches and bartender's braces.
BTW, when I have a moment, I am going to take all the food posts from the next couple of days and make a new thread - "streetwear food talk". If you have a better name, you'd better tell me.