The 10 best things I’ve ever eaten in Kingston

The idea for this post had its genesis in the show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network that J watches way too much of. I love hearing people talk about food that they truly enjoy and keep going back to again and again and again. What I appreciate most is that each item isn’t necessarily hoity toity food: it can be as simple as pancakes or a hamburger. I decided that for my final post about Kingston I would talk about the 10 best things I ever ate in Kingston. The following list is not in any particular order. It is merely a reflection on the food that I love, the places that I’ve enjoyed, and the people that I will miss.

1) Sima Sushi – Chirashi Sushi and Firecracker Roll

Check out my original post here.

I first visited Sima in Fall 2009 when they had just opened. At the time, I loved the fish, loved the service, but wished that they had a better sign. The sign has never changed and now that I look back on it, I am glad it never did. It adds charm to that downtown corner. I have been so lucky to enjoy fresh seafood so close to where I live. We’ve been to Sima upwards of 20 times and I’ve never had a bad meal. Never.

This is the Chirashi Sushi (various raw fish and seafood on a bed of seasoned rice) for $15.95. This dish is incredible. The fish always changes and reflects what they have in stock. The fish is cut cleanly, the variety is amazing, and the seasoned rice just really grounds your mouth in this savoury delicious flavour. I particularly enjoy the octopus salad you see in the back. Bouncy, chewy, and gingery, it is really quite refreshing. The Chirashi Sushi for the low price of $15.95 can’t be beat in terms of quality and value. I’ve tried a lot of food at Sima but I keep going back to this dish.

Here you can see the Firecracker Roll in the middle (spicy tuna and cucumber roll wrapped in tuna and crab meat) for $11.95. J always gets this as a starter or as her main assuming that she will get some of my Chirashi. It is a perfect maki. Tightly rolled without being dense, lots and lots of fish, and nicely balanced spicy tuna and regular tuna flavours. The pollock adds some nice sweetness to this roll.

Sima Sushi is my favourite place for sushi in Kingston. It has served consistently high quality food and the service has been outstanding. J and I have gotten to know the owners (Daniel and June) and they really are lovely people. More than the food and the service, I think it is the people that we are going to miss the most.

Sima Sushi,6 Princess Street, Kingston, ON, (613) 542-8040,

2) Woodenheads Gourmet Pizza – Nonna Mela Pizza

Check out my original post here.

Woodenheads was the first good meal that I had in Kingston and it will forever have a place in my heart for that reason. I’ve met so many different people sitting on the patio in the summer from different specialties and from different years that I will always think of it has a great place to meet people.

This is the Nonna Mela (apple butter, roast garlic, cheddar, sweet onions, blackened chicken) for $14.80 which I truly adore. Each element is so wonderful that each bite you take makes you even more hungry. It sounds weird… but I find that as I eat this pizza, I accelerate my eating pace. And why not? Who could resist apple butter that adds richness and sweetness to the pizza combined with sharp cheddar and spicy blackened chicken. It is this perfect blend of flavours that is so very satisfying. The crust is nicely chewy without being too thick. Really a perfect pizza. I could eat an entire one on my own in one sitting.

Do not forget to order this if you go to Woodenheads. When L came into town to visit J and myself, we started our night at Woodenheads for drinks and pizza (we of course got the Nonna Mela), danced at Alehouse and Stages, and ended the night with fireworks. Ahhh what a great night.

Woodenheads Gourmet Pizza, 192 Ontario St., Kingston, 613-549-1812,

3) Royal Angkor – Golden Chicken

See my original post here.

Plain and simple, the guy is a bit of a jerk. He has a right to be. He is the chef, the storefront, the waiter, and the busboy for Royal Angkor. He also answers the phone for delivery orders. He is overworked and never has enough staff. One time I needed my Cambo fix but was too lazy to leave home. I called. Again. And again. 3 times I called and it was busy each time. Finally I got through. “SORRY WE ARE VERY BUSY. CALL BACK LATER *CLICK*”. Wow. Good thing the food is good.

This is the Golden Chicken (spicy hot and sour chicken, peanut, lemon grass with rice) for $7.95. The verbal abuse on the phone is worth it. This dish is amazing. The rice is really a delivery mechanism for this delicious sauce. Nutty, spicy, sour, and fragrant. Each bite just makes your tongue jump for joy and makes your bowels cringe for what is to come afterwards. Add the fresh spicy green peppers and you have a culinary masterpiece but a GI disaster. The chicken is tender, juicy, and well marinated. Just thinking of this dish is making me salivate right now. Do NOT get this dish if you are anticipating talking with someone in close quarters. You’ll be burping it all night. When you are on your own, this is great, a nice reminder to a lovely meal. When you are interviewing patients, it is the worst smell in the world.

Royal Angkor is the kind of place that you might call a “hole in the wall”. It really is. The fluorescent lighting inside is unappealing, its location isn’t great, and the service, well… it isn’t great either. But the Golden Chicken really makes it worth it. Don’t be intimidated by an angry Cambodian man. Get the Golden Chicken, eat it, and get the hell out!

Royal Angkor, 523 Princess St. Kingston, ON, 613-544-9268,

4) Sleepless Goat – Various Desserts

I like my post-dinner desserts. When I moved from Calgary, the absence of a post-dinner dessert place in Kingston made me really miss Cowtown. Then I discovered the Sleepless Goat. While they aren’t open that late (I believe they close at 11), they really have a plethora of delicious desserts available. The coffee is only okay so I probably would get something basic if you get coffee at all.

As an example of their delicious desserts, this is the Hazelnut Dacquoise filled with chocolate cream. The cream was so smooth, rich, and not too sweet. Each bite was filled with delicious cocoa flavour. The dacquoise itself was unique. A little crunchy, a little crispy, very nutty, and light. It was nice in combination with the cream.

This was the cherry chocolate coffee cake (J informs me that a coffee cake does not mean it has coffee in it, it just is meant to be eaten with coffee). Light, crumbly, and tart with the cherries. A nice non-coffee flavoured coffee cake.

While the Sleepless Goat is the only place that I know of that offers late night desserts, these desserts are delicious. The staff are friendly and allow you to stay for hours and hours studying, reading, or playing boardgames (which they provide).

Sleepless Goat, 91 Princess Street, Kingston, ON K7L 1A6, (613) 545-9646, no website.

5) Slickers Ice Cream (Picton) – Apple Pie Ice Cream

See my original post on the Prince Edward County Taste Trail here.

Going to Slickers for Ice Cream has sort of become a tradition in our program. We go and visit Sandbanks in the late summer, we do a jumping in the air photograph, then we go to Slickers for Ice Cream. It is always packed there and for good reason. This ice cream knocks the socks off of White Mountain in Kingston.

This is the Apple Pie Ice Cream. Rich and satisfying with nuggets of real pie that makes it chewy and delicious. It gets rounded out with tart pieces of apple balanced with creamy ice cream. Each bite is cool and refreshing on a hot day but is also reminiscent of warm apple pie. Quite a contrast, but a delicious one at that.

Don’t let the line up intimidate you. Slickers Ice Cream is the real deal and I highly recommend getting the Apple Pie ice cream.

Slickers Ice Cream, 271 Main St, Prince Edward, ON, (613) 393-5433,

6) Coffeeco – Cappuccino

See my original post on coffee in Kingston here.

I’ve written a lot about the successes and disappointments I’ve had in the Kingston Coffee scene. Probably the biggest disappointment is learning that Coffeeco is not opening up a downtown shop as was optioned earlier this year. This is a real hit to the area. While many enjoy their cup of joe from Mug and Truffle, Coffee and Company, Starbucks, Sleepless Goat, and Sipps, I always go to Coffeeco when I want a nicely pulled espresso and wonderfully steamed milk. I guess downtown Kingstonites will have to continue to walk to Johnson and Division or Kingston Centre as I have done for the past 3 years.

This is the Cappuccino. Look how silky and smooth the steamed milk is. While the barista did not do any latte art (which in my opinion is only a reflection of the quality of the steamed milk), you can see the beautiful lines drawn with the espresso. The espresso itself is pulled nicely and I’ve never had one burnt. It is strong and gives you that kick you need. This coffee is easily the best in Kingston and compares favourably to Toronto and Calgary coffee houses.

Coffeeco, 1046 Princess Street, Kingston, ON, (613) 542-7994,

7) Arisu – Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup)

Check out my original post here.

When I first arrived in Kingston, I really enjoyed the food at Mr. Dumpling, especially their dumpling soups. In early 2009, Mr. Dumpling closed and the owner moved across the street and opened Arisu that specialized in other Korean fare. What a blessing it has been to the Kingston Korean food scene. There are many many many options available if you are interested in Korean food (Take, Sapporo, Jina, Niji to name a few) but Arisu is consistently great with clean and strong flavours.

This is my favourite dish, the gamjatang (cabbage and pork bones in a slightly spicy broth, served with rice) for $10. This is a perfect dish in a lot of ways. The broth is warm and spicy filling your stomach and soul with a satisfying fire. There isn’t too much pork flavour if that is how you like your gamjatang but the spice balance is just perfect. It is hot in your mouth and warm in your belly. The pork bones are also nicely cut too. Just enough meat to make you satisfied and enough to add a delicious flavour to the soup. The cabbage adds some nice crunch. When I am feeling sick or hungover, this is my first choice dish. In fact, in Korea, it is often called Hang Over Soup!

Arisu serves the best Korean food in Kingston. Their bibimbap, kalbi, and je yuk bok eum are also great choices. But if you want to be satisfied, check out the gamjatang. You won’t be sorry.

Arisu Sushi and Korean Restaurant, 185 Division Street, Kingston, ON, (613) 531-9265, no website.

8 ) Darbar – Lamb Vindaloo

On my first night of call in July 2008, my senior decided to treat us to dinner. We decided on Darbar. I ordered the Lamb Vindaloo. It was so intensely spiced that the entire ward reeked of vindaloo spices when we ate it in the back room. My tummy didn’t feel great afterwards and my post-call day was ruined with memories from the night before. But this started what was to be my love affair with Darbar’s Lamb Vindaloo.

It seems simple enough. An extremely hot curry from Goa cooked with extra red chilies, lemon juice and potato all for $11.95. At that price, an incredibly good deal compared to the rip offs I have encountered at other Indian joints around town. It comes with a lot of meat for that price. The lamb itself is tender and flavourful. Importantly, it is not dry or powdery like many of the other vindaloos I have tried. But it is the spices that keeps me coming back. It has so much heat that it makes my eyes water and my temples sweat. I need to pat myself down as I eat it. I have to wash it down with a glass of milk now and then or my tongue can barely stand the sensation of my breath blown over it. It is that hot. It is also wonderfully sour and acidic making your saliva just flow. I have never had such a delicious vindaloo. It is the vindaloo that I will forever compare all vindaloos. I should remark that I do not have a sophisticated palate when it comes to Indian food. Some may not find it subtle enough. In fact… it isn’t subtle at all. But that is what I love about it.

Darbar, 479 Princess Street, Kingston, ON, (613) 548-7053,

9) Aqua Terra – Prix Fixe Meal

See my original post here.

People at work often ask me about my blog once they hear that I have one. And the obvious question is always asked: Where is your favourite place to eat? It is a hard question. It all depends on what you feel like. The stomach context at the time determines just how great something is. I love chicken wings but if I am craving a sundae, chicken wings just don’t cut it. But I can honestly say that if I had to choose one place to go, if I was to come back to Kingston for 1 night and eat just 1 meal, it would be at Aqua Terra.

Aqua Terra is located at the bottom of the Radisson but don’t be afraid. This is different from all your usual hotel food. Aqua Terra is run by Clark who formerly ran Clark’s on King which I am told was fantastic. Aqua Terra has a very diverse a la carte menu as well as a lovely Sunday brunch buffet with a lot of seafood offerings. But where I fall in love with Aqua Terra is the Prix Fixe dinner for $28.

This is a beautiful set of seared scallops as course 1 of the Prix Fixe. Really fresh seafood cooked perfectly.

This is a braised beef short rib that was the main for the Prix Fixe. As you can see, there is a lot of meat. Even thought this is a set meal, they really don’t skimp on the fixins or the protein. And it was so flavourful and tender. After this, I swore I wouldn’t be able to eat anymore.

But then I saw these Lady Fingers to finish the Prix Fixe and I found room in my gullet. Nothing fancy, just some crispy lady fingers finished with a nice orange syrup.

Overall, the Prix Fixe is an incredible deal and what makes it even better is that the food is top notch. It is prepared skillfully, served beautifully, and the servers really love their food. I find so much joy when you can tell people really care about their product. Also the atmosphere is stunning. A great place for a date, right on the waterfront. The Prix Fixe is hard to beat in Kingston. If you are feeling a little more extravagant, you can get the Table d’Hote which costs a bit more but comes with a few more dishes.

Aqua Terra, 1 Johnson St., Kingston, ON, 613-549-6243,

10) Harper’s Burger Bar – The Bull’s Eye burger

See my original post here.

Harper’s Burger Bar is the member of this group of 10 that is the newest. It fits a great niche in the city of Kingston: the elevated decadent burger. Sometimes, you feel like getting fat but you want to do it in style. I don’t love all of their burgers but the ones I do like are outstanding. The Bull’s Eye Burger is one of these outstanding burgers. What I like the most about it is how it almost transcends the simple label of “hamburger”.

This is the Bull’s Eye burger (Monterey jack, fried farm egg, local bacon, grilled jalapenos, South Carolina BBQ sauce) for $11.5. Just a perfect combination of textures and flavours. First you have a nicely seasoned beef patty on a toasted bun. Nothing fancy but clean solid flavours. Then imagine a perfectly cooked egg sitting on top with the yolk still runny. It cracks when you squeeze the burger creating an oozy yellow explosion of deliciousness. It is almost like an eggs benny. Then add some heat with the fried jalapenos. Throw in some sharp jack cheese and wonderfully zingy barbecue sauce and you’ve got yourself a party. While it is called the Bull’s Eye Burger, it is really a burger only in name.

Harper’s is an interesting place. You can get alcoholic milk shakes and beer floats (two things I have never seen anywhere else). You can watch the game on one of their awkwardly placed LCD screens. You can even use your computer with the wifi that they have inside. To me, it is a place for a truly decadent burger. Don’t miss out on this taste of heaven.

Harper’s Burger Bar, 93 Princess St., Kingston, ON, 613-507-3663,

~ by Russ on April 7, 2011.

14 Responses to “The 10 best things I’ve ever eaten in Kingston”

  1. I absolutely love the Nonna Mela pizza at Woodenheads! I’m going to have to reverse-engineer the recipe one of these days! I went to Harpers when it first opened and wasn’t too impressed but I’ll chalk that up to the learning curve and go back to try it again! That looks quite delicious!

  2. Just wanted to say that since I moved to Kingston about a year and a half ago I found your website to be an invaluable guide to Kingston’s restaurants.

    All the best!

  3. Woodenheads definitely a favourite of mine too — my favourite is the Dynamo pizza!
    By the way, I think coffeeco is opening a location on ontario street, just off princess!

    • Sorry to burst your bubble Jen but a source that is reputable says that they plan is done. Nada. Over. I think they are going to open something up in the township. Blasted!

  4. I’ve followed your food blog since moving to Kingston 3 years ago for grad school. Your blog has been an invaluable part of my Kingston food experience and will be missed.

    P.S. Your top 10 sounds like *my* top 10 minus the Royal Angkor. Will definitely give their golden chicken a try soon!

    All the best with post-resident life!

    • Don’t miss the Golden Chicken. Just prepare to sit there for a long time…. they can be deadly slow at Royal Angkor.

  5. I’d like to make a note that the guy at Royal Angkor seems to have mellowed out considerably over the past year. My apartment is nearby and I get take-out maybe once or twice a month, and he’s been consistently friendly and easy-going.

    My guess is that he found out that people were leaving comments about his attitude online, but he’s definitely much nicer now.

    • Hehehe, nicer… but the service is deadly slow still. If you want a quick eat, I wouldn’t come here unless you are dying for a Golden Chicken… which I often am.

  6. Wow, this blog is gold to me. Doing a locum here for the weekend and a) couldn’t stand the bland coffee at the hotel Starbucks and b) really wanted something without waiting 1.5hrs at Woodenhead’s. Going out for sushi now!

  7. The Angkor is now under the management of the son and his gf and they have done amazing things with it. The upgrades to the decor and staff have been amazing. Although the prices have gone up slightly (the first time in a loong time) it is well worth it. The server is always re-filling your water, the food is always on time and she is NICE! My bf and I go to the Angkor once a month as it is our favorite spot in Kingston to eat! Highly recommend a visit and to try the number 1 Panang Kai! MMMmmmm…

  8. Hey there, I am looking to buy a vegetarian a GC to a restaurant in Kingston, but I don’t actually live in Kingston and am not familiar with the restaurants. Can you make a recommendation? Many thanks.

  9. […] blogger is named, A Glutton in Kingston. It is an excellent overview of ten top dishes and their venues. Fair warning it will make you […]

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