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Learning to Crawl

Dividing up an extra-large bowl of pho at Golden Turtle

Pub crawls are easy. Pick a neighbourhood with several watering holes local to each other and drink your way from one to the next. If you want to get frat-boy fancy about the operation go ahead and google the rules for pub golf.

Food crawls–especially where the aim is to  make critical comparisons–are an entirely different beast. Over a series of crawls with friends Suresh, Mike, Alex, and Mark I think we’ve gained a bit of experience that I’d like to share.

Decide on classic vs. outright best: This was a hindrance for us on our wing crawls. Should we care how well a particular restaurant’s offering satisfies a (rigid) standard or do we just want delicious? The answer is probably either but not both. Wings with spicy HP sauce are okay but they’re difficult to compare (and I’m a purist).

Accept oddball suggestions on a whim: Out of nowhere on our last wing crawl Alex announced that he knows where to get stuffed, butter-fried wings. (Bamboo Cafe Chinese Restaurant at 494 Danforth Ave.) These things have a freak-show appearance but were absolutely delicious and I would have regretted it if we’d passed that suggestion by.

Ignore the dirty looks from waiters: At Golden Turtle it took three confirmations for us to establish that yes the five of us intended to share one extra-large bowl of pho and one order of spring rolls.

Take notes: Even if you don’t plan to write about your experience a blackberry note, photo, or (my choice) digital voice recording will be the only way you’ll remember which place had the pho with a distinct hint of cinnamon in the broth and which uses white onions instead of scallions.

Any ideas for what we should do next? Leave a comment below.

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  1. We were considering a tea crawl, but figured too many people would be jumping off the walls, high on caffeine, by the third stop.

    We did a poutine crawl to raise money to fight cancer though. It was modeled after one we heard about in TO, organized by Vicky (@momwhoruns).

    Described here w/photos:
    [seriously not trying to pimp a site...feel free to remove the link!]

  2. foodwithlegs says:

    Don, I’m not a huge tea guy but the tea crawl sounds like a great idea. And of course the poutine crawl looks delicious.

    No worries on the link. Happy to have any link that isn’t shilling cheap pills.

  3. Jing says:

    Love the idea of the of a food crawl! In fact, I ran 3 Chinatown food crawls at a Foodie group on Meetup ( . It’s a lot of fun bonding with friends or new people over food! It does require quiet a lot of planning though.

    On our Chinatown food tour, we planned 5 restaurants, staying a total of 30 minutes at each place. I booked all the restaurants before hand and even asked for a special dish they could prepare for all of us! All in all, we had so many varieties of Chinese food: Northern, sichuan, BBQ, Chinese Muslim, and hand-made dumplings. We were suppose to do 5, but ended up doing 4 because we were all too full!

    Lovely experience, I encourage everyone to do it! It’s cheaper too, under $20 on avg of the 3 times I’ve gone. But it does require a lot of pre-planning unless you want to go on a crawl on the whim.

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