Exploring strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best international food

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kick off summer with this killer Caribbean ice cream

After a meal at Ali's Roti, your stomach will be so heavy you'll be tempted to skip out on dessert. That would be a mistake. The Trinidadian restaurant has some of the best ice cream I've ever tasted. 

Ali's is Parkdale's original roti shop on a strip that is practically a roti district today. Apologies to Roti Lady and Bacchus but Ali's is by far the best of the bunch. Trini-style dalpuri roti is dusted with spicy split peas and stuffed with hefty, flavourful goat, chicken or beef. Ali's also lays claim to being the first restaurant in Canada to sell doubles, a delicious street snack of chickpea curry slathered between two pieces of hot fried dough.

Regulars have been coming here since the restaurant opened up in 1976, and it's not uncommon for people to tell owner Shiraz "Ali" Aligour (below, with his granddaughter) that they came there as children. The ice cream is certainly memorable.

The three flavours of ice cream—mango, soursop and coconut—are made on the premises. Ali starts with ripe fruit, adds cream, sugar and stabilizer and mixes it in a machine in the back. The result is an airy, delicious dessert that tastes much fresher than anything you can buy in the store. Plus it's not sickeningly sweet, like many tropical fruit ice creams.

"Back in the day all over the Caribbean families would make ice cream with a hand crank on Sundays to make a treat for the kids," explains Ali. "It's expensive to make the ice cream here and we make very little profit on it, but it's something we do for the community because they enjoy it."

Ali's Roti is located at 1446 Queen Street West at Lansdowne, Toronto. Telephone: 416 532 7701. Hours of operation: Open every day 11am to 10pm.  

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