In this weekly feature, Apt613 asks blog contributors and local figures about their takeout habits and highlights—to help you find new tasty treats to discover or revisit when you’re just OVER IT with making dinner. We want to hear about the takeout you loved! Leave comments below and if you’d like to contribute to a future edition of Takeout Talk, email <email@example.com>.
Highlights this week
Lives in: Chinatown
Day job: Program Manager for History Nerds
I was talking about Indian food recently with a friend, and started reminiscing to him about an incredible lunch I had at Thali in the before times. I can’t stop thinking about it now, and so I’m passing that on to all of you fine people before I order some for myself this weekend. They have stayed open for takeout throughout the shutdowns and are the perfect comfort food for a cozy night in. A different format from other Indian restaurants in town, traditional thali-style eating consists of small dishes with six different flavours of sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate. You choose your protein, and the perfectly balanced dish will give you the variety of a buffet with the precision of a plated meal. Thali meals cost around $22, but you can also order individual dishes like the classic Butter Chicken, Veal Vindaloo or Biryani.
Since the closure of Coconut Lagoon after their fire, Chef Joe Thottungal has brought to Thali some of his signature dishes including the Button Mushroom Curry which is a creamy, savoury delight. You can order online and either pick it up from their location at Laurier and O’Connor or have it delivered. The traditional chicken thali is not to be missed!
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Stephen La Salle
Lives in: Mooney’s Bay/Riverside Park
Day job: Waiting out COVID (but normally Hotel Executive Chef)
Need a vacation? Of course you do. In the meantime, how about a culinary experience placeholder direct from the world’s eight-time best culinary destination, Peru? Chef Lizardo Becerra hails from Lima, with a resume that includes two Michelin-starred restaurants, Central (the Lima restaurant that reached #4 in the world on best lists), executive chef at the Peruvian embassy, and most recently my chef de cuisine at Andaz Ottawa for our five-year tenure. Now he’s opened Raphael Express to bring Peruvian flavours to Ottawa.
Of course I recommend the ceviches: sustainable Canadian fish mixed with a citrus-based marinade called Tiger’s Milk and other authentic Peruvian ingredients, mixed to order and incredibly bright (best in Ottawa in my opinion). But there’s more to Peruvian cuisine: also on the menu is a super flavourful braised duck leg dish, the Peruvian classis dish lomo saltado (a sauté of beef tenderloin, tomatoes and flavourful sauce), and braised short rib. My favourites were the new-to-me causa, a stacked salad with a Peruvian yellow pepper-flavoured potato puree, avocados, beets and two stunning sauces, and chaufa, a Chinese fried rice dish influenced by Chinese immigrants to Peru. And I’m a sucker for the fried yuca with Peruvian olive sauce (where have Peruvian olives been all my life?). Tack on some beverages to round out the experience: house-made chicha morada made from purple corn, lime, quince and spices, or the famous Inca Kola (like a lemon verbena soda). We could all use some brightness these days, something made with care and love, and an experience from outside of our four walls while being safe at home. That’s something Raphael Express can deliver.
Needless to say, I’m very proud of my friend and former colleague, but also extremely excited that he’s brought modern Peruvian cuisine to Ottawa. Raphael Express does orders online (pre-orders and live orders) for pickup at City Centre and delivery with Door Dash.
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