Where Capra’s Kitchen chef and owner Massimo Capra gets takeout sushi, cashew chicken and fried noodles

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Where Capra’s Kitchen chef and owner Massimo Capra gets takeout sushi, cashew chicken and fried noodles

We’re asking Toronto chefs and restaurateurs which takeout dishes have been getting them through the pandemic

Like it has been for everyone else, this past year (hard to believe it’s been that long) has been challenging for chef Massimo Capra. He’s stayed productive by cooking at home more with his loved ones and by expanding the business model at Capra’s Kitchen, his Mississauga restaurant. “It’s been trying,” says Capra. “I normally employ 50-plus people and now I’m down to only five. We’re also trying to expand our takeout menu by crafting specialty meal experiences for celebratory occasions, like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.” Capra says it has been very heartwarming, however, to have the community rally behind them. “We’re so appreciative that our customers continue to supporting local businesses like ours. It gives us the opportunity to keep people employed; it also helps in maintaining a sense of belonging and mental sanity.”

Capra has also kept busy hosting and helping with numerous virtual events. “The most recent online presentation I hosted was at the end of 2020 for the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario and the Icons of European Taste. I spoke on the culture and history of three great products from Italy: prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto di San Daniele and grana padano.”

While he can’t connect with his culinary peers IRL, Capra supports them by ordering takeout and delivery when he can. These are some of his favourite spots in Mississauga for meals to go.

Dai Ichi Sushi

3105 Winston Churchill Blvd. #7, Mississauga, 905-820-8869, daiichisushi.ca

“We’ve been frequenting this wonderful family run business for the last 10 years and have never been disappointed with the food or the service. Once we can dine in again, I look forward to their warm and inviting space with its pine décor, and the little rooms where you can hide away from the rest of the diners. The sushi bar is well stocked with good quality fish, and the sushi chefs are always busy preparing takeout trays. While the menu includes everything one would expect from a sushi restaurant, it one also features a lot of well-made Korean staples too.”

Go-to item 1: Pork bone soup
Tasting notes: “Whatever can be said about a well-made pork bone soup, you can find all those qualities here. It has a rich umami broth, spicy Korean chili flavour, tender meat on the bone and a perfectly balanced amount of vegetables. One order is generously sized for one person, however, I’ll often share it with my wife and son as a starter dish. The best part is gnawing all that tasty meat off the bones—which my family and I will fight over.”

Go-to item 2: White Mountain roll
Tasting notes: “This dish has become one of our favourites because of its creamy texture and the perfect balance of flavourful filling versus the amount of rice. It’s stuffed with spicy salmon that’s wrapped in perfectly seasoned rice, spicy mayonnaise and jalapeño, and it’s topped with binchotan-torched salmon slices.”

Go-to item 3: Unagi donburi
Tasting notes: “Fresh eel is one of my favourite kinds of seafood to eat, so when I discovered Japanese barbecued eel, I became an immediate fan. With this dish, I always ask for extra chopped radish, tamago and pickled ginger. This dish is typically served in a hot stone bowl, but that’s not possible for takeout. It’s still just as flavourful, though. The creamy eel is warm and brushed with a sweet sauce, but there are also these crispy edges. It’s an umami-rich dish that’s balanced out with the rice. Rounding it all out is the interplay of textures and tanginess, with that hit of soft egg, ginger and radish.”

Mango Rain

1714 Lakeshore Rd. W., Mississauga, 905-919-1374, mangorain.ca

“Mango Rain is conveniently just steps away from my own restaurant in Clarkson. Over the past few years, the owners and I have become friends and we have enjoyed each other’s food many times. The menu here is a reflection of the owners’ heritages; it’s quite extensive and features numerous Indian and Thai staples.”

Go-to item 1: Mulligatawny soup
Tasting notes: “While it’s a what some might call a humble dish, it’s made so well here that anyone who tastes it will fall in love. I really enjoy the texture of the lentils, the sweetness from the coconut milk and the tender chicken. There’s also just the perfect amount of curry used. The sweetness of the apples and the carrots completes the package. All that’s left to do is top it with crushed cashews and fresh coriander, then tuck in with some of their freshly made garlic naan that’s cooked in their tandoor.”

Go-to item 2: Cashew chicken
Tasting notes: “I love this Thai dish and Mango Rain knows how to make it. The chili paste has a nice heat and the amount of vegetables is well balanced with the quantity of chicken. I also appreciate that the vegetables are cut into smallish pieces. It’s definitely a must-order.”

Go-to item 3: Kashmiri rice pulao
Tasting notes: “With its delicate and delicious profile, this is an incredibly addictive dish and I often find myself gorging on it. It’s a classic, creamy pilaf that’s enriched with dry fruit and nuts.”

Summit Garden Chinese Cuisine

3015 Winston Churchill Blvd., Mississauga, 905-828-6686, summitgarden.com

“This is my go-to spot because I love Chinese food—both eating it at restaurants and cooking it at home. The owner, Ken Choi, is very active in the community and we’ve found ourselves at many of the same fundraisers. Summit Garden is what I would describe as steady and delicious. In the mornings, they offer freshly made dim-sum, whereas dinner is a more refined affair. The dishes I get to go most often are is their barbecued items like pork, duck and soy chicken. I’ll then use the meat to cook up my own creations at home, like duck congee or vermicelli with duck and mushrooms.”

Go-to item 1: Fried noodles with shredded pork and bean sprouts
Tasting notes: “I haven’t been able to master this dish at home yet, so in the meantime, I order this and take it to go. I just love how it’s prepared: you have the crispy noodles, a whole bunch of crunchy bean sprouts, and the tender shreds of pork meat. I just love how the textures and flavours work together.”

Go-to item 2: Peking Supreme pork chop
Tasting notes: “My wife is a big fan of this dish because it’s all at once sweet, sour, tender and crisp. When it’s made just right, the pork chops are sliced thinly, cut into strips, then coated with cornstarch and fried to a crispy golden brown. Meanwhile, the sauce, sweetened with honey and undertones of bean paste, lends a slightly sour-savoury note to the dish. Everything’s tossed together and served on a bed of sautéed onions.”

Go-to item 3: Braised lobster
Tasting notes: “Summit is offering a braised lobster with black beans on their takeout menu and it is superb. The sweet and firm meat of the lobster combined with the salty umami of the fermented black beans makes you salivate with every bite. I like to take my time and extract all the meat from the lobster then tuck in with a big bowl of steamed rice.”