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Eating out in RC: Zoom fatigue? Favourite lunch breaks away from the home office


Kopitiam Malaysia's chicken curry laksa is a favourite lunch treat.

Kopitiam Malaysia’s chicken curry laksa is a favourite lunch treat while on a break from the home office. Photos by Julie Cheng


Basil Garden’s free-range chicken pho is a Vietnamese take on chicken noodle soup and just as comforting.

It’s been almost two years since I started working from home due to COVID safety measures. I miss the cycle commute to my downtown office, a good chat with my coworkers and all the usual lunch-hour eateries.

Now Zoom fatigue and work isolation are getting to me. For my mental health, I try to get some sun and exercise with a walk around the Renfrew Ravine. I also go out for a lunch treat once in a while.

These are my favourite restaurants within walking distance. In addition to delicious food, they have kind and friendly staff.

Mee goreng from Kopitiam Malaysia.

I love the sweet and sour flavours of the mee goreng from Kopitiam Malaysia.


The Penang tofu is a family favourite.

Kopitiam Malaysia
3885 Rupert Street and East 23rd
The name of this Malaysian restaurant has changed (they are no longer part of the Penang Delight franchise), but the wonderful flavours of my favourites remain the same – chicken curry laksa, mee goreng and sambal green beans. Check out their weekday lunch special.


Basil Garden’s vermicelli bowl with pork skewers and spring rolls is packed with flavour.


Try Basil Garden’s healthy prawn or marinated tofu salad rolls with peanut sauce.

Basil Garden
2889 East Broadway and Renfrew
The hike down and then up the hill to Basil Garden is well worth it for me. All their pho is wonderful. I discovered their free-range chicken pho to be just as flavourful – I ask for no skin as a healthier option. Also healthy are their vermicelli bowls and salad rolls. It gets busy at lunch so go early or late.


The pork in Dami Sushi and Korean Restaurant’s Gamja-Tang hot pot is of the melt-in-your-mouth variety.

Dami Sushi and Korean Restaurant
3280 East 22nd Avenue and Rupert
This restaurant has been going strong since opening in Renfrew-Collingwood in January 2021. I agree with Paul Reid, in his Taking out in RC review, that the pork in the Gamja-Tang hot pot “is of the melt-in-your-mouth variety” –  just like the bone broths my grandma used to make. My favourites are the bibimbap and japchae.

The pork in Dami Sushi and Korean Restaurant's Gamja-Tang hot pot melts is of the melt-in-your-mouth variety.

The ramen from Kami Japanese Cuisine is sure to warm you up on a winter’s day.

Kimu Japanese Cuisine
4441 Boundary Road and East 29th
Another bit of a hike from home, Kimu has long been a reliable lunch and dinner spot. In addition to delectable sushi, they have a good grill – I love their teriyaki meals. There’s even more reason to stop there now with Masala Meats next door.


This iSushi lunch special consists of a teriyaki bowl and two sushi rolls. On a cold day, warm up with one of their udons.

3883 Rupert Street
iSushi opened despite the pandemic and quickly pivoted to become a busy takeout spot. I like to dine in to enjoy the tea and the food fresh from the kitchen. You can choose from a variety of sushi and rice bowls to make your own lunch special, but I invariably order a healthy house salad and sashimi.