Eating Your Content: D Hot Shoppe (Burlington)
I lived in Brampton for the majority of my life. There was never a lack of West Indian restaurants. When I moved to Hamilton, there were only a couple choices and only one that fried some of their foods. Unfortunately I don’t frequent that establishment anymore due to rising prices. In any case, my hunt for Caribbean food never ends. I remember hearing about D Hot Shoppe months ago. It was just put on the back burner as I’m not in Burlington often. Today Merwin dropped me a line saying he had to go into town and I figured it was a prime opportunity to check the place out.
We showed up during the prime lunch rush time of 1230pm. The line up was literally at the door. The two guys working cash were machines though. They churned out tickets like nobody’s business and the staff of 4 in the kitchen motored as well. We grabbed a couple of seats near a window and I watched the seemingly never ending line up until 1pm, when it abruptly stopped. My buddy Pete walked in. He’s a regular and said that it’s like that every day, worse on Friday as the line up goes right out the door. Live and learn when it comes to lunch rush; come just before 1130am or just after 1pm.
D Hot Shoppe is a relatively small venue, seating 20 – 25 people. It’s strictly no frills but it’s still warm and welcoming. I loved the upbeat West Indian music playing in the background.
Pholourie – $1.90
For those unfamiliar, Pholourie is essentially a Fried Fritter made from Split Pea Flour. They’re pretty generic across the board. At least that’s what I thought until I ate these. It’s amazing how a little thing makes a world of difference. D Hot Shoppe adds just a hint of spice to their Pholourie. It isn’t about heat, just something adding flavour. I caught it but when I heard Merwin say he noticed too, I knew there had to be something different. I asked the owner what he puts in the mixture but all I got was “it’s my mother’s recipe.” I can respect that. It came with a Mango Chutney but I didn’t care for it. I ended up dipping them in the spiced Curry Beef gravy that came on top of my entree (you’ll see later). Gravy is 25 cents and I’d highly recommend paying the quarter to replace the dip.
Doubles – $2.38
I can never pass up an opportunity to grab Doubles. It’s a pretty simple dish. Curried Chic Peas (Channa) are sandwiched between fried Dough (Bara). I’ll be honest in saying it was good but nothing different from anywhere else I’ve eaten. I think the Pholourie set a high expectation for me. Shockingly, I took a second one home and after heating it in my Toaster Oven (400C for 8 minutes) the Bara ended up crisp and far more pleasant an eating experience.
I found the sign pretty funny but also intriguing. Everyone has a variety of ideas as to what “hot” is. I like a lot of pain with my pleasure (get yo mind out the gutter) and elected for Suicide in my Roti. Merwin went for Medium. While D Hot Shoppe‘s pepper sauce is very good, I didn’t get anything in terms of heat that blew my mind. I douse most of my food in Scotch Bonnet sauce my mother makes so this was a walk in the park. I’m sure other folks will find it more than up to snuff in terms of spice though.
Roti – $6 for small, $7.08 for large
I went for a large Goat Roti. Merwin went for a small Chicken Roti. All meats in their Roti dishes are boneless. Not all places do that, or they charge extra for it (I wish I was kidding). The Dahl Puri (dough shell) was just the right thickness with the ground split pea filling not dry at all. They didn’t skimp on the goat at all. It was tender (no small feat with goat) with a great mix of spices. I LOVED the fact they poured the gravy over the dish. I believe this is only done with dine-in orders as it’d be a mess for take out. As I said before, the gravy was the ideal dipping sauce for the Pholourie. Merwin was very happy with his Chicken Roti and was barely able to finish even the small. They’re not the biggest Roti I’ve ever had but it was more than enough food and the price point can’t be beat.
I rarely do this but I want to emphasize how happy I was with the prices at D Hot Shoppe. This is by far the most economically priced West Indian food I have eaten ANYWHERE. A comparably priced large Roti at most Caribbean restaurants runs $9 on average and upwards of $11 at some spots. $1.90 for an order of 15 Pholourie is insanely good value. Merwin and I got 2 Roti, 2 Doubles, 1 Pholourie and 2 drinks for $24 after tax. I don’t think any West Indian restaurant in Burlington/Hamilton comes within the ballpark for a comparable meal.
In case it wasn’t obvious, I loved my lunch experience at D Hot Shoppe. The staff was hard working and always friendly. The food was fantastic and at a price that can’t be beat. If you’re in Burlington, make your way there and enjoy a great Caribbean Food experience.