Eating & Drinking

101 TASTES: Ottawa Magazine presents the must-eat list you cannot resist

101 Tastes: the must-eat list you cannot resist
Pookie’s Yam Muamang (Image: Miv Fournier)

91 | TACOS DE BARBACOA AT LOS TACOS

Barbecued until it falls apart, the lamb shares space on chef Mauro Rosario’s tortillas with chopped cilantro and onion. Heat is delivered from the creamy jalapeno sauce and the delightfully menacing red salsa. Squeeze on some lime juice at the last minute, and you’re good to go. Perched above a shawarma shop, staring down at the ByWard Market in a funny little upper room that doubles as a discotheque, you have a well-balanced meal neatly folded into the palm of your hand. $11.85. Los Tacos de Mauro, 349 Dalhousie St., 613-562-9756. ~AD

92 | PINGUE PROSCIUTOO

An Ontario prized porcine product and the pride and joy of Mario Pingue, this is local ham from happy hogs, wrapped in sea salt and cellar-aged. Prosciutto at its very finest. Found at The Piggy Market, 400 Winston Ave., 613-371-6124, and served at Play Food & Wine, 1 York St., 613-667-9207. ~AD

93 | POOKIE’S YAM MAMUANG

Salads (or yam) are vital in Thai cuisine, and this one — featuring mango, cilantro, red onion, and cashews — is striking. Sour, sweet, spicy, and fresh, it’s light, healthy, biting, and beautiful. $10.50. Pookie’s Thai, 2280 Carling Ave., 613-321-1733. ~AD

94 | THE WELLINGTON GASTROPUB’S DUCK MEATBALLS

If meatballs can ever be considered light, chef Chris Deraiche’s balls of duck are that. Seasoned right and paired with soft strips of smoked pork hock on a bed of spaetzle piqued with mustard, these are a must-try at the Wellie. $19. The Wellington Gastropub, 1325 Wellington St. W., 613-729-1315. ~AD

95 | LAMB CHETTINAD AT COCONUT LAGOON

Of the many non-vegetarian dishes available at the wonderful Coconut Lagoon Restaurant, this is the most striking. A southern Indian classic, hot and pungent, sour and fragrant, with cashews and coconut in rich gravy studded with tender chunks of lamb. Keep the yogourt handy. $16.99. Coconut Lagoon, 853 St. Laurent Blvd., 613-742-4444. ~AD

96 | DUCK CONFIT AT LES FOUGÈRES

Quebec moulard duck legs are salted, herbed, cooked, and stored in duck fat. Then the skin is deliciously crisped, enhanced with orange zest, and sprinkled with fresh thyme and edible flowers. Served on a potato galette with chèvre and spinach and ketchup fashioned with New Brunswick partridge-berries. No matter the pairing or the presentation, nobody does duck confit better than Charles Part. Nobody. $36. Les Fougères, 783, rte. 105, Chelsea, 819-827-8942. ~AD

97 | LOCAL CRANBERRIES FROM UPPER CANADA CRANBERRIES

Fresh, frozen, dried, lightly sweetened, unsweetened, in jam and in sauce, once you’ve tasted these cranberries, you won’t settle for anything less. The only commercial cranberry farmer in eastern Canada, Lyle Slater harvests 100,000 pounds of cranberries from 14 acres of swamp using an ingenious homemade harvester. Check the website for shops that carry Upper Canada Cranberries products, find them at a bunch of farmers’ markets, or visit the farm at 2283 Stagecoach Rd., 613-798-6232. ~AD

98 | LARB GAI FROM THAI FLAME

A signature dish of Laos and of this superior Thai restaurant run by a Laotian family, larb gai is a traditional chicken salad stoked up with chilies and featuring toasted and ground rice in the mix of tender meat, greens, lime juice, fish sauce, cilantro, and peppers. Find this item in the salad section of the menu as yum gai-yang. Pair it with some sticky rice and tuck in. $11. Thai Flame, 1902 Robertson Rd., 613-695-9188. ~AD

99 | BÒ KHO AT OX HEAD

Racier than pho and outrageously flavourful, bò kho is a Vietnamese beef stew that packs a real punch, the broth fragrant of star anise and fish sauce, slightly sweet but mostly spicy, piled high with carrots, daikon, onion, and basil. Order it made with egg or rice noodles — or with both. Small $7.95, medium $8.95, large $9.95. Ox Head, Centrum Plaza, 790 Kanata Ave., 613-592-0630. ~AD

100 | WEST AFRICAN CHICKEN AT PILI PILI

Rubbed and steeped in secret spices, then slow-roasted over wood charcoal, the spatchcock chicken from Pili Pili is smoky, sometimes spicy, always juicy, always crispy where it ought to be crispy, and definitely a bird that screams to be taken to the closest picnic spot and devoured with wild abandon. Whole chickens $13.75. Pili Pili, 355 Montreal Rd., 613-695-7454. ~AD

101 | ALLIUM MONDAY-NIGHT TAPAS

There isn’t a slew of restaurants in this city for which reservations are required on a Monday night, but good luck getting a Monday table at Allium without one. Chef-owner Arup Jana launched an all-tapas and only-tapas menu on what is traditionally a quiet night, and pretty much from the get-go, his grazing menu of delicious little treats, kindly priced, captured the city’s attention. Other restaurants followed suit, but none do it better than Allium. $5-$15. Allium, 87 Holland Ave., 613-792-1313. ~AD