Eat This Minute: Just another day for you and me in Charidise

A Taiwanese eatery that’s all the rage


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A popcorn chicken bowl at the fast-cas spot

Since setting up shop in downtown’s Baldwin Village, Charidise has been swarmed with folks seeking out fast-casual fare with a Taiwanese lean. Despite a name that appears to be dead set on making ’80s kids bust out their Phil Collins chops, the moniker actually has an explanation. In Mandarin, “cha” means “tea,” and in tandem with the term “paradise,” well, you get the picture. Although Charidise aims to be a beverage utopia, there’s plenty more to be found on the menu.

We’ve got the look
Stepping into the Taiwanese eatery, it feels like you’ve entered an upscale cafeteria. It’s not hard to figure out that students — plucked from the nearby University of Toronto and OCAD University — make up much of the diner population. Drawing plenty of foodies who are active on Instagram is the goal and sharing images with #Charidise and #StayLoveShare is encouraged. 

Just like at a fast-food joint, grub is ordered at the counter and patrons are handed buzzers, which alert them when their dish is ready. Continuing with the cafeteria-style operation, much of the seating in the two-storey space is communal, with long tables up front allowing for six to settle in. A Baldwin-facing patio and a semi-private chamber with a skylight make for more intimate settings. Design details include turquoise beams overhead and smart patchwork chairs.

The birds have it
When it comes to the menu, simple Taiwanese eats are the name of the game. The menu plays host to many a rice bowl with the popcorn chicken rice combo ($16) gunning for top spot on the pedestal. Fluffy grains of white rice arrive nestled in a bamboo bowl. Crunchy pieces of popcorn chicken top the rice, all lightly seasoned (they’re mum on the actual spices) and served with some sweet and sour dipping sauce. A hard-boiled egg and skewers of grilled zucchini and brussels sprouts round out the plate. Everything is picked up on a cafeteria tray with an apple, to keep that doctor far, far away.

As for all those namesake beverages, milk teas and slushes — bubble tea’s hipper cousins — are the top draws. The grass jelly milk black tea is subtly sweet (ask for less sugar) with generous hunks of black jelly floating in its milky environs. A meal worthy of a student … of life.

Charidise, 27 Baldwin St., 647- 351-6555 

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Karolyne Ellacott is senior editor at Post City Magazines. She can oft be spotted at Toronto’s most nostalgic diners wearing glittery heels and pink faux fur. Follow all of her eclectic writing interests on Twitter @kellacott and Instagram @itismekar.

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