Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sabai Sabai (Part II)

My friends and I came here for a late night snack. Neither of my friends had eaten here before. The servers were just as courteous and friendly as the last time I ate here. Due to the fact that it was Valentine’s Day, they had a specials menu along with the regular menu. We ordered from their specials menu. We had the spicy coconut noodles aka mee kati ($8), spicy lao sausage ($10) and the golden chicken ($5).

One friend listened to my recommendation and ordered the Thai iced milk tea ($4, right side of picture) while another friend got the Thai iced lemon tea ($4, left side of picture). I decided to satisfy my curiosity from last time and ordered the Thai Long Island ($9, center of picture). My friend thought that the Thai iced lemon tea was abit too lemony and it overpowered the taste of the Thai iced tea while the Thai Long Island was nice in that the lemon wasn’t overpowering the Thai iced tea.

The spicy coconut noodles aka mee kati is thin rice noodles on banana leaves that’s stir fried in a spicy coconut milk sauce with ground chicken, bean sprouts, green onions and garnished with egg threads, a hot pepper ring and a lime wedge. It was scrumptious with a nice spicy kick to it. Although it looks like it’s a small portion it was surprisingly big.

The spicy lao sausage is pork belly sausage that’s seasoned with lemongrass, galangal, lime leaf and shallots. It comes with a sweet and sour chili dipping sauce. It was delicious.

The Golden Chicken is corn, green onions, minced chicken in a special sauce that’s reminiscent to spicy BBQ sauce on a crispy cracker on top of crispy shredded noodles. My friend said that the tapas dish reminded him of a Lays BBQ chip.
Next time I come here, I’m interested in trying one of their salads and their lunch menu.

Categories: Canada, Cuisine, Downtown Toronto, Food, Restaurant Review, Thai | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rakia Bar

After our unsuccessful attempt at eating at a restaurant on Ossington, my friends and I went to Rakia Bar for dinner instead. It’s a small rustic restaurant in downtown Koreatown. The entrance is right by the only window in the restaurant. The lighting was abit dim with a long communal table in the middle of the room and several two person tables along the sides of the wood-paneled walls and a table by the window and entrance. We requested for a seat that wasn’t by the window. This Balkan restaurant has a large selection of rakia. Rakia is a 40% alcohol that is double distilled and is a fermented fruit brandy and it’s popular in the Balkan countries.

We all had a different rakia drink. My friend got the Mr. Tesla ($9.50, right side of picture) while another friend got the Camomilla ($9.50, center of picture). I had the Hobbit ($6.50, left side of picture). Mr. Tesla was billed as an electric drink and it’s a plum rakia. The alcohol is a much stronger smell but it doesn’t linger in the aftertaste. My friend enjoyed it. The Camomilla is a grape rakia with chamomile, pear, plum, hazelnut and walnut. It was very mild tasting compared to Mr. Tesla. The Hobbit is a plum rakia with Melisa herbs, Salvia herbs, anise and lavender. This rakia is suppose to cure all ails when I asked our server to elaborate on the rakia selection. It is perfect for a cold winter night because as you drink it the warmth spreads and lingers in your body.

My friends and I split the mezze platter for two ($18) and the meat platter for two ($28). The mezze platter features pickled vegetables (finely sliced carrots, halved green beans, pickles and sliced beets), roasted pepper spread, feta cheese, black olives, aged cheddar cheese, 2 mini cornbread muffins, 3 kinds of cured meats and garnished with a stalk of green onion and a side of salt. It was tasty however I was expecting something more exotic in terms of the cured meats.

The meat platter for two features a Black George Schnitzel, chevapi, Viennese schnitzel, baked beans, coleslaw and cubed potatoes. The Black George schnitzel is a breaded schnitzel that’s stuffed with kaymak. Kaymak is buffalo milk clotted cream. It was crunchy and delicious. The kaymak is a great accompaniment to the schnitzel. Chevapi is grilled minced beef and minced pork, reminiscent of a kebab. It was abit salty but very flavourful. The Viennese schnitzel is a thin, breaded, deep fried veal cutlet. It was good, especially once the lemon juice was squeezed over it. The coleslaw was a refreshing break from all the fried meat and it’s garnished with a hot pepper ring. The cubed potatoes had a nice crunchy skin. Overall, the meat platter was a nice introduction to Balkan cuisine.

I am interested in trying the Balkan style burger and a different type of rakia the next time I come.

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Bang Bang Ice Cream

My friends and I decided to have dinner on the Ossington strip after skating at the Evergreen Brickworks however the restaurant we wanted to go to was operating under a Valentine’s day set menu with reservations only so we decided to initially go to Bang Bang Ice Cream to have an ice cream sandwich since we were already in the area. The bakery offers ice cream, 1/2 and full vegan and non-vegan ice cream sandwiches,vegan and non-vegan cookies, Hong Kong waffles, ice cream puffs, coffees and teas. The 1/2 ice cream sandwich lets you incorporate up to 2 ice cream flavours while the full ice cream sandwich lets you incorporate up to 4 ice cream flavours. My friends and I got the 1/2 ice cream sandwich ($4.97 including tax).

I had the london fog ice cream (ice cream on the right side in the above pictures) and hazelnut ice cream (ice cream on the left side in the above pictures) between a RoCocoa cookie. The Rococoa cookie is a chocolate cookie with salt sprinkled on the top. It was a tasty combination. I’m hoping that the next time I come they’ll have the green tea cream puff. If you are in the neighbourhood, I recommend this place for dessert or a snack.

Categories: Bakery/Patisserie, Canada, Cuisine, Dessert, Downtown Toronto, Food, Restaurant Review | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wine Bar

My friend and I had dinner here afew days ago. It’s close to St Lawrence market in a quiet neighborhood. It has a rustic decor with fairly dim lighting. Winterlicious dinner is $25 + tax & tip.

We both got the crispy Quebec brie for the appetizer. It’s a panko breaded brie drizzled with a sweet tomato chutney. The panko breaded brie was bite sized although when I initally saw that it was only 4 pieces, I thought it could be slightly bigger in portion sizes. However the brie with the chutney was tasty.

My friend got the stuffed portobello mushroom for her main. The mushroom is stuffed with sweet potato, roasted red peppers, zucchini, red onions and goat cheese and topped with balsamic greens.

I had the chicken and waffles for my entree. It looked quite small but was deceptively filling. The chicken and waffles is a crispy southern style breaded chicken on top of a square of waffle with a sausage gravy on the side and topped with crispy okra and sweet red peppers.

We both got the Grand Marnier creme brulée with toasted almonds. It had a really thick, hard to break crust. My friend found it gritty and not smooth tasting. I like the orange flavour to it.
Overall, it’s not the worst restaurant I’ve been to but it’s not the best restaurant either.

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Quince Bistro

My friends and I had dinner here afew days ago. The lighting was initially bright but it dimmed when it got abit later. It has two levels so while it may seem small, it’s a fairly large restaurant. Downstairs has a set-up where you could have a private function with leather couches, throw pillows and a private bar so it feels like you’re partying in your own basement.

A friend had the salmon chowder with potatoes and chive oil. I had a spoonful and it was quite delicious.

Another friend had the roasted carrot and beets salad with avacado and crispy quinoa.

Another friend and I had the octopus terrine with white miso coleslaw. A terrine is sliced food that has been prepared in advanced and given time to cool before serving. I had expected more octopus slices however the octopus goes well with the white miso coleslaw. I preferred the octopus escabeche at Parts & Labour compared to the octopus terrine here.

A friend had the duck confit with Perth County smoked bacon and a bean cassoulet. Duck confit is duck leg that’s deep fried slowly at a low temperature. A cassoulet is a stew or casserole that’s slow cooked.

Another friend had the grilled flat iron steak done medium rare with smoked onion puree, red wine jus and root vegetable pave. He felt that the gravy overwhelmed the steak.

Another friend got the grilled mackerel with charred rapini, roasted tomato, cannellini bean puree and a tomato vinaigrette. She thought that the mackerel was cooked well and that the meat was fall of the bone, so to speak.

I had the crispy skin arctic char with roasted cauliflower, du Puy lentils and pickled fennel. Arctic char is a fish and the taste and texture is similar to salmon. My arctic char had some undercooked to raw parts.
Arctic Char in Kitchener
The only other time I had arctic char was in Kitchener at Wildcraft for a friend’s birthday party back in 2012. I think I preferred that arctic char compared to the one at Quince since it had sweet, salty and sour elements as opposed to tasting elements of salty, kind of bland and a sour sweetness.

For dessert, two of my friends and I shared the butterscotch banana budino, pumpkin almond torta and chocolate bread pudding while another friend just got the butterscotch banana budino.The butterscotch banana budino is topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with toffee crunch. It’s the best dessert of the three.

The pumpkin almond torta is accompanied by spekulaas spice, creme anglaise and chantilly cream. It’s a tasty dessert that’s not too sweet.

The chocolate bread pudding with a berry compote and honey creme fraiche reminded me a chocolate lava cake but without the molten lava. My friend thought that the berry compote overwhelmed the chocolate bread pudding. Overall for dessert, the butterscotch banana budino is the tastiest followed by the pumpkin almond torta.

I also got B52 coffee while my friend had tea. B52 coffee is coffee mixed with several kinds sweet liqueurs.

Categories: Canada, Cuisine, Food, Food Festival, North York, Restaurant Review, Western | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parts & Labour

My university friend and I decided to do our annual Winterlicious meal at Parts & Labour. It’s on Queen St West between Lansdowne and Roncesvalles so it’s quite far west for somebody who works at the edge of Scarborough. It’s a very spacious restaurant with mainly communal tables and modern rustic decor. I initially thought it would be a much smaller restaurant. There weren’t alot of people having dinner on a Tuesday night. The servers were very helpful and courteous. The lighting was quite dim however the noise level was alright. Parts & Labour has an extensive alcohol selection.
Steak Tartare
My friend and I decided to split both the appetizers and desserts. For appetizers we had the steak tartare and the octopus escabeche. The steak tartare includes capers, dijon mustard, aioli, shallot and skinny French fries. Steak tartare is minced raw beef that’s well seasoned and served with some type of starch. I found the steak tartare to be quite salty and sour tasting however the french fries were a good accompaniment to the tartare when eaten in the same mouthful.
Octopus Escabeche
The octopus escabeche includes giardiniera on top of sourdough bread. It was also quite salty. Escabeche is a Spanish dish in which the fish is marinated, fried or poached and served cold. The octopus was poached and served warm rather than cold. Giardiniera is a pickled vegetable and olive oil relish. It compliments the octopus.
My friend got the porchetta with hot peppers, rapini, lentils and garlic chips. My friends remarked that it looked like an Asian dish rather than an Italian dish. I had a bite of her dish and the porchetta was very delicious with the perfect amount of fat to meat ratio and goes very well with the lentils and garlic chips. The porchetta was more delicious than the pork belly I had at Five Doors North.
Cornish Hen
I got the 1/2 cornish hen with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and white beans. It was quite salty however the cornish hen had a very nice crispy skin with juicy meat.
Chocolate Terrine
For dessert, my friend ordered the Chocolate Terrine with Chantilly cream and raspberries while I had the olive oil cake with condensed milk. The chocolate terrine is reminiscent of a combination of chocolate pudding and flourless chocolate cake. The chantilly cream is whipped cream that has been made light and fluffy.
Olive Cake
The olive oil cake was light and dense. The condensed milk gave it an extra dimension.
Overall, I would come back to try their P&L burger.

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Winterlicious: Five Doors North

My high school friends and I decided to eat dinner here. Neither of my high school friends had tried any winterlicious/summerlicious restaurants before so I recommended Five Doors North to them to ensure a good first impression. Service is as impeccable as always. Winterlicious dinner is $25 + tax & tip and you could order rosemary focaccia bread for an extra $1.
Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Crispy Pork Belly
All three of us had the crispy pork belly. It comes with butternut squash mash and a caramelized apples and sweet onion reduction. The portion was smaller compared to last year’s crispy pork belly however it was just as scrumptious. The skin was crispy with a decent layer of fat and melt in your mouth meat.
Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon
For the main, both of my friends had the pumpkin seed crusted salmon while I got the grilled chimichurri skirt steak. The pumpkin seed crusted salmon comes with mango and smoked red pepper salad. My friends enjoyed it. One of them like that the mango was sweet and balanced the salmon well.
Grilled Chimichurri Skirt Steak
My grilled Ontario chimichurri skirt steak comes with crispy tortilla strips, avocado mousse and black bean sauce along with a tomato and lettuce salad. The skirt steak was slightly tough but done just right at medium rare and the black bean sauce was a good accompaniment to both the salad, crispy tortilla strips and the steak. The tomato and lettuce salad was also tasty on its own.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
My friends and I decided to split the dessert so we had the flourless chocolate cake, vanilla creme brulee and banana chocolate chip bread pudding. The flourless chocolate cake is made with dark chocolate and topped with blackberries with a blackberry coulis sauce. It was very delicious.
Vanilla Creme Brulee
The vanilla creme brulee was as scrumptious as always.
Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
The banana chocolate chip bread pudding comes with bourbon creme anglaise and the pairing is delectable.

Overall, I recommend you try this restaurant if you’re ever in the Yonge/Eglington/Davisville area whether for Winterlicious/Summerlicious or even on a regular night.

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