Thursday, July 31, 2008

restaurant review: wasabi

Restaurant: Wasabi
Location: 668 Silver Star Blvd., Scarborough, Ontario
Telephone: (416) 226-9988

Meal type: Dinner (buffet style)

Average price per person: $22.99 per person

What I ordered:
- Spicy & Crispy roll
- Spicy Salmon roll
- Dragon roll (with Salmon)
- BBQ beef ribs
- Eel hand roll
- Salmon Sashimi
- Shrimp Tempura
- Sirloin steak
- Sea eel Sushi
- Green tea ice cream


We usually visit Wasabi for lunch buffet, but decided to try out their dinner service. Usually when we're there for lunch we're always turned off by the horrible & slow service. But we keep going back for more because their buffet selection is quite good and the decor is clean and modern. So we were quite pleased when we got acceptable service during our dinner. It was by far exceptional service, but much better than our usual experience.

A few hiccups to dinner: a) The Spicy & Crispy roll was a huge dissappointment - I expected that it would be a Spicy & Crispy SALMON roll, but it was just a Tempura batter/Spicy Mayo/cucumber roll. b) The Shrimp tempura was not the light and flaky "real" tempura batter. c) The Spicy mayo was not spicy at all & all you could taste was the mayo.

A few highlights to dinner: a) the Salmon sashimi was excellent. b) The BBQ beef ribs and Sirloin steak were very yummy. c) a very large menu with lots to choose from.

All-on-all we were satisfied and came out stuffed silly with sushi. We will most likely be going back in the future.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

3 in 1 instant coffee

A while back I was at T&T Supermarket with my mom and they were giving out free samples of coffee. Being a coffee lover I couldn’t resist. I got closer to investigate and discovered they were selling a Vietnamese brand 3 in 1 instant coffee. What’s a 3 in 1 instant coffee? It’s a small package of instant coffee that already includes sugar and instant creamer. Meaning you only have to add hot water and voila! Instant coffee with sugar and cream already added in.

I liked it enough to buy a box, and brought it the next day to share with my coworkers. I learned from my Vietnamese co-worker that Trung Nguyen is a highly popular Vietnamese brand and G7 is their instant coffee line.

I know 3 in 1 instant coffees are very mainstream in Europe and Asia, but I think they’re still being introduced here in North America.

This coffee obviously isn’t for people who like a specific mix of sugar or cream/milk, but I highly enjoy it (I usually take my coffee double-double). It’s perfect for traveling, camping, and storing in my desk at work.

Price: $3.99 for a box of 20 packages

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

oh my god - please keep me away from the bookstore...

Yes, I did it again. I went to the bookstore and bought TWO MORE food books! Someone please stop me!

Well, in my defense, I bought these two books for my husband. We've been spending a lot of this summer grilling our dinners, which means he's doing the cooking (I love it and he's great at it) so I picked up these two books to add to our growing collection of grilling-related food books (it's sad that my food book collection is so freaking large now that it can actually have SUB-sections!!!)

Anyhow, again, I'll review the books more once we try out a few recipes, but here's what I got:

From what I could see during the "flip-through", there's tons of great tips and quick recipes for the grill in this small-sized book. We recently ventured into beer-can chicken on the grill territory and it's really delicious!

We've been making our own pizza a lot lately, both with homemade dough, and also a quicker version using pitas. We buy sliced pepperoni, fresh toppings and I make my own pizza sauce.

With the warm summer months, instead of making pizzas in the oven or toaster oven, we've been doing it on the grill, so as soon as I saw this book, I had to grab it.

Someone please stop this book-buying addiction of mine!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

pluot (plü-ot)

Have you noticed recently some new fruits in the produce section of your grocery stores? A while back I picked up some funny coloured plums to snack on, only to find out from a friend that they're actually "pluots". A quick search on wikipedia turned this up: "A pluot (plü-ot) is a tradename for a fruit developed in the late 20th century by Floyd Zaiger...It is a complex cross hybrid of plum and apricot, being ¾ plum and ¼ apricot in percentage." (

You learn something new everyday...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

restaurant review: elegantview chinese restaurant

Restaurant: Elegantview Chinese Restaurant
Location: 3601 Victoria Park Ave., Toronto, Ontario
Telephone: 416-499-2188

Average price per person: $0-$10

Some of the more popular dishes are:
Some of the more popular dishes are:
- har gau (shrimp dumplings) (pictured)
- siu mai (pork dumplings)
- bau (steamed buns)
- cheong fun (rice noodle rolls)
- lou mai gai (lotus leaf rice)
- juk (congee)
- dan tat (egg tarts) - my favorite, and the list goes on and on.


The weekend always means lots of eating out for me...

My best explanation of what dim sum is is Chinese brunch. As with other Chinese meals it is based upon sharing many dishes, as opposed to each person having their own meal to themselves. The slang for dim sum is "yum cha" which translates directly to "drink tea", as dim sum is accompanied by Chinese tea. Traditionally, servers push carts around with the dishes and you can choose what you want. Many dim sum restaurants in Toronto have moved away from this custom, but I enjoy it so I can see what I'm getting.

I really enjoy dim sum - the variety, the great tastes, and the great price. Although we try new and different places, my family always seems to default back to Elegantview. It's not antyhing out of the ordinary in terms of Dim Sum restaurants, but the food is consistantly good, so we always go back.

Nowadays you can buy frozen dim sum dishes in the supermarkets, and although they are very good, it's just not the same.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

yan can cook

I was watching Iron Chef America - Battle Opah on television last night. If you're not farmiliar with the show, it's a 1-hour dramatic cook off, that is focused on a "secret ingredient", between a guest chef and the Iron Chef of his/her choice (Iron Chefs are: Cora, Flay, Morimoto, and Batali). The cuisine is judged at the end by a panel of judges on originality, presentation and taste. The show is based on the Japanese show Iron Chef which ended in 1999.

Firstly - I've never seen Opah before this and I just wanted to say what an incredible looking fish it is.

Secondly - one of the panel judges on Battle Opah was Martin Yan, the host of Yan Can Cook. I mistook him for the Vancouver-based chef Stephan Yan, the host of Wok With Yan. Peaking my curiosity I looked both of them up on the internet and read their bios. Definitely two different people, but both uber talented pioneers of cooking shows.

Thirdly - I'm glad to see that Iron Chef America is finally getting more creative with their "secret ingredient". The Japanese version always had the craziest ingredients that really challenged their chefs. Every time I watch the American version it seems to be something standard like beef.

ps. I love how over-dramatic Asian game shows are.

Friday, July 25, 2008

restaurant review: mckenzie king tearoom

Restaurant: McKenzie King Tearoom
Location: 33 Scott Road, Chelsea, Quebec
Meal type: Lunch

Average price per person: $11-$20 CAD

What we had (pictured):
~ ham & cheese quiche with side salad
~ afternoon tea (assorted sandwiches, scone, desserts, tea)


The McKenzie King tearoom is located in Gatineau Park on the McKenzie King Estate. The estate belonged to Canada's 10th prime minister and showcases his love of nature and architecture. The tearoom is located in one of the prime minister's former cottages (pictured).

This was my very first time having "afternoon tea". And what better way to enjoy afternoon tea than staring out onto a beautiful garden from a nice patio on a bright, sunny summer day. The food was very light, refreshing and very tasty. Our food took quite a while, but I hardly noticed because I was too busy just enjoying the nice scenery. The waiter apologized and explained that they were prepping for a wedding for later on that day. I could have done without the bugs, but it was rainy the day before, so the bugs in the early afternoon were inevitable.

The tearoom is a great alternative to the snack bar or bringing your own picnic lunch. It has a charming dining room as well as patio and you really can't beat that view.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

added to the sagging bookshelf...

It's always a bad thing when I step into a bookstore. It's like I have this weird phobia that I can't leave without buying something or the bookstore will be offended. Considering I already have over 150 food-related books, and nowhere to store them all, my sad addiction to food-books is in a sad state.

That being said, I haven't bought a book in awhile (mainly because I have deliberately avoided stepping into any bookstores), but my coworker wanted to check out the big SALE that the local Chapters bookstore was having so she dragged me along and lo and behold, I brought two more additions to the cookbook library I seem to be building.

In my defense, they were both on sale and I ended up paying only $16.05 (plus taxes) for both.

I'm sure one day I'll get around to doing a full book review (as I'm vowing to review all my food books on this blog) but for now, I'll just leave you with this teaser:

I bought A Cook's Book of Quick Fixes but Anne Willan, which I'm sure will become indispensible in my kitchen as it contains nothing but kitchen tips.

And, just because I love food photos, I bought Ingredients by Loukie Werle and Jill Cox, which is really nothing but 350+ pages of food photos and very little text. Yummmm.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

new: vivanno at starbucks

I was at Starbucks the other day and noticed their new drinks: Vivanno Nourishing Blends. In an attempt to break in to the health-smoothie trends they've introduced two flavours: Orange Mango Banana and Banana Chocolate. Both contain: a whole banana, 2% milk and protein & fiber powder.

I'm hoping to try one tomorrow when I hit up Starbucks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

restaurant review: social

Restaurant: Social
Location: 537 Sussex Drive, Ottawa
Telephone: 613-789-7355
Meal type: Dinner

Average price per person: $26-$60 CAD

What I had:
~ Calamari appetizer
~ Mariposa duck leg confit, potato rosti, seasonal vegetables, pickled cranberry glaze (pictured)
~ Mandarin Dream cocktail


My first experience was during Winterlude and I was super impressed. I wasn't disappointed after my second visit. Social is a restro-louge in Ottawa and has a dining room and patio with loads of classy ambiance. The service was great (as I would expect for a restaurant of this caliber) and the food was very tasty. My duck was just a tad dry, but it's hard to serve an impressive duck to me as I always compare it to succulent Chinese style roast duck. I think this is 1 of my favorite places to eat in Ottawa...if only I could afford to eat there every day. =P

Monday, July 21, 2008

mr. pho fusion

I always pass by this restaurant when I'm in Ottawa and it makes me chuckle. Mr. Pho Fusion is on Elgin Street and from the signage I gather that it serves: noodle soup (pho), pad thai, and shawarma. Does anyone else find this a really odd combination of foods to be serving in one place? I've never ventured in...because frankly...the idea of pho & shawarma being served together weirds me out.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

restaurant review: cantine

Restaurant: Cantine
Location: 138 Avenue Road, Toronto, Ontario
Telephone: 416-923-4822
Meal type: Lunch

Average price per person: $20 CAD

What I had:
(Summerlicious event)
~ sliced bocconcini and roma tomato salad, garnished with fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil
~ spaghettini tossed with a fresh tomato and basil sauce, topped with goat cheese
~ fresh key lime tart served with raspberry sorbet and whipped cream


This was my first visit to Cantine, a restaurant my co-workers chose for a lunch outing to take advantage of the Summerlicious deal ($15 for lunch). The restaurant is small, but seating is spacious and comfortable and the decor is really casual and pretty.

The service is quick and friendly and the choices on the regular menu are pretty good, at fairly reasonable prices.

The lunch that I had was fairly normal and wasn't anything spectacular - the tomato and boccocini salad was similar to the one I make at home and the spaghettini was cooked well, but was just pasta. The sauce was a safe tomato/basil sauce, but the goat cheese sprinkled on top was fresh and melted quickly into the pasta, adding a creamier dimension to the sauce.

I do have to mention the dessert though. The key lime "tart" was much creamier than most tarts that I've had and the lime flavour was subtle. It felt more like a lime cheesecake, than tart, but it was lovely and delicious. The crust was light and chewy and the raspberry sorbet was the lightest sorbet I've ever had. Again, the raspberry taste was light and "airy" and overall, the dessert made the meal entirely worth it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


During my business travels to the US I discovered Panera - a great little cafe style restaurant. It's obviously not the most mind blowing culinary experience, but it's fast, fresh and very tasty - a great place to grab a healthy lunch on the run.

I've heard rumours that they're opening the first Canadian location right here in Mississauga, Ontario at Square One shopping centre. I haven't found any solid evidence (yet), but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

To find out more:

Friday, July 18, 2008

taste of the danforth 2008

One annual can't-miss summer festival is the KRINOS Taste of the Danforth festival. This will be their 15th year running, and over 50 restaurants will be participating! It's a awesome showcase of the multiculturalism in Toronto through food and music, with an emphasis on the Hellenic culture.

When: Friday August 8 to Sunday August 10
Where: Danforth Avenue (Between Broadview Ave. and Jones Ave.)

For more event details check out:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

chicago chronicles: corner bakery cafe

We checked out a Corner Bakery Cafe near our hotel one day for breakfast, and we were instantly hooked. I'm practically drooling just thinking about the sweet aroma of fresh bread and all the tasty & affordable items on their menu. I wish there were more cafe chains in the GTA - they make a great default place to meet & eat.

My favorite was the Commuter Croissant ($4.29 US): "A light and buttery croissant stuffed with scrambled eggs, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese."

For more information:

Image from:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

restaurant review: amaya

Restaurant: Amaya
Location: 1701 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4G 3C1
Telephone: 416-322-3270
Meal type: Dinner

Average price per person: $30 CAD

What I had:
(I was sharing several dishes with my dinner companions, so this may look like a lot, but I was sampling)
~ murgh makhani (a.k.a. butter chicken)
~ naan
~ vegetarian samosa
~ kerela pepper duck
~ lamb lollies
~ mango lassi
~ poppadoms
~ coffee tofee ice cream


This was a great Indian restaurant experience. Although a small, little place, I never felt squished and the seating is comfortable. The waiter was friendly, helpful and taught us a few things about Indian food (like when to call a samosa a samosa) and the food always came quickly to the table, but never overlapped (there was about a 5 minute gap between appetizers, main course, and dessert) and when I had asked for coconut ice cream (which they didn't have) we could see the waiter in the kitchen looking in the fridge thoroughly for about 5 minutes before he came back to tell me they were out.

The food here is absolutely amazing. The sauces are rich and delicious and the meat (duck, lamb, chicken) all melted in the mouth. The mango lassi I had was thick and very fresh-tasting. There wasn't a lot of heat to any of the dishes, which I really liked. And dessert was very generous.

The food was really good and the atmosphere was casual and relaxed. I would definitely come here again and would happily recommend it to everyone I know who likes Indian food or would like to try it for the first time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

i would cover everything in chocolate if i could

Yesterday I posted about the Ghirardelli chocolate shop in Chicago. For Torontonians there's an equally decadant shop to get your chocolate fix at - Soma Chocolatemaker located in the distillary district. My friends recently introduced me to it (obviously I don't get out much).

Not only is this an adorable cafe/chocolate shop, their products are amazingly good.

Their Mayan hot chocolate is absolutely out of this world. It's a thick and extremely rich hot chocolate with a hint of spicy kick to it. And their mango gelato is probably the most fresh I've had in a long time.

Check it out if you're ever in the distillary district:

Monday, July 14, 2008

chicago chronicles: ghirardelli chocolate shop

As most people know – I’m a chocolate fiend to the nth degree. So when I was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago and spotted the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop I was uber excited (to say the least).

What’s more perfect than a super rich and creamy hot chocolate and a chocolate croissant on a cold day? Or a hot fudge sundae dripping in homemade hot fudge sauce on a hot day?

For more information visit:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

restaurant review: cfood

Restaurant: CFood
Location: 2419 Yonge St, Toronto, Ontario, M4P 2E7
Telephone: 416-544-1661
Meal type: Dinner

Average price per person: $25 (it was a Summerlicious meal)

What I ordered:
- Tuna Tartar on Crispy Rice
- Steamed Mussels in a White Wine Garlic sauce
- Banana Bread Pudding


As their name implies, this restaurant specializes in seafood. I went here as part of the Summerlicious promotion Toronto has every year and had high hopes as there were ample choices on the Summerlicious menu.

The tuna tartar was very tiny, but flavourful. The mussels were well prepared, but the sauce wasn't very intense so really it was just steamed mussels as I couldn't taste much garlic. I was really looking forward to the Banana Bread Pudding but was disappointed. It was, essentially, a (slightly too dry) banana nut muffin with some sticky raisins and nuts on the bottom.

Overall, the service was pretty slow, but looking around, it was the same for every other table, so it wasn't just us. There were only 2 people working the entire restaurant and they were attentive and didn't ignore us at all, so the slowness could have been attributed to the kitchen.

Another big complaint is how tight the tables are. I'm a small person and I couldn't squeeze between the two tables to get to my bench seat and had to shove tables out of place to get through. There's was about a 5" gap between our table and the tables on either side of us so no private or romantic conversations here! And my husband, who sat in the chair was bumped every time someone walked by since they had to squeeze through the tight aisle. Very uncomfortable seating all round.

I probably won't come here again. Even though the service is friendly and the food is good, the tight seating arrangements and slow kitchen are things I prefer not to experience again.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

i heart jeffrey steingarten

My first food writer favourite was Anthony Bourdain - he's witty, sarcastic and daring and his books, Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour are two of my favourite books.

But then came Jeffrey Steingarten. I picked up The Man Who Ate Everything and now it's the most ratty-looking book on my bookshelf because I've read it so many times! It's everything that I want in a book - funny, sarcastic, witty and since it's a collection of articles, it's perfect for my mouse-sized attention span. The sequel, It Must've Been Something I Ate is just as delicious.

Steingarten doesn't just eat food and write about it, he lives food. When he's curious about Kobe beef, he flies to Japan. He goes to Italy for weeks just to learn about truffles. To figure out how to fry the perfect French Fry, he purchases several deep fryers and more potatoes than my grocery store carries. In other words, he's living the life I wish I could be living right now, living food and getting paid for it.

I just hope Steingarten comes out with another book soon because I don't know if I could read through the first two AGAIN (is 5 times too much?)

Friday, July 11, 2008

newsflash: free slurpee day

To celebrate 7-Eleven Day, 7-Eleven is offering free slurpees!
Check out a participating 7-Eleven near you:

Thanks to Captain Awesome for informing me & sending me this link.

chicago chronicles: california pizza kitchen

Chicago is known for their deep dish pizza. And while we did eat lots of deep dish pizza, we also stopped for some thin crust pizza while on a shopping marathon on Michigan Avenue.

California Pizza Kitchen is an American restaurant chain with locations all over the USA. This was my first visit with them and I thoroughly enjoyed my Mango Tandoori Chicken Pizza (pictured). For all you Canadians out there - it's similar to Boston Pizza. Now if only I could convince Boston Pizza to add Mango Tandoori Chicken pizza to there menu...

Check out their website for more information:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

chicago chronicles: duck walk

While in Chicago we decided to stop by the retail store. And on the trek there we passed by Duck Walk. My fiancé raved about it as his sister had introduced him to it on his last trip to Chicago, so we decided to go back for dinner.

It’s a small and cozy Thai restaurant that offers dine-in and take out. The place was packed and was an obvious hot-spot for the local urbanites. The food was absolutely amazing and the service matched. Best of all, the prices were absolutely incredible for the amount and quality of food.

I would recommend this place to any fan of Thai food if they’re in Chicago.

Check out their website at:

Image from:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

chicago chronicles: wow bao

"Bao" is the Chinese word for buns. And WOW BAO is a cafe type fast-food chain that serves steamed “bao”. Don't be fooled, these aren't just the typical "bao" you find in Chinese bakeries or at Dim Sum restaurants. Some of the “bao” you’ll find on their menu include: teriyaki chicken, Thai curry chicken, spicy Mongolian beef to name a few.

My final verdict: I think the concept is genius and their execution impressive - they’ve succeeded in bringing “bao” to the masses and make them mainstream. That being said, I think I still prefer the traditional BBQ pork “bao” (which are usually larger and cheaper) over the fancy stuff. I still hope the chain opens more stores - maybe 1 day they'll arrive in Toronto!

Check out their website here:

chicago chronicles

We went on a trip to Chicago recently. It was my first time there and I loved it. Not only was there amazing architecture and shopping everywhere I looked, but there were a plethora of great restaurants to choose from. A few eateries still stand out in my mind, so I've decided to write a couple of blogs dedicated to my favorite Chicago food gems.

Monday, July 7, 2008

big fat chinese wedding

On the weekend we attended a Chinese wedding reception at Golden Regency Restaurant (located in Pacific Mall). I think in most cultures, good food in abundance is key to a great wedding, but Chinese weddings take the cake - they are usually 10+ courses!

The menu:
Course 1 - Roasted whole suckling pig - served peking duck style (pictured)
Course 2 - Deep fried crab claws (pictured)
Course 3 - Stir fried jumbo shrimp & scallops with vegetables
Course 4 - Braised shark's fin soup with crab meat & fungus (pictured)
Course 5 - Braised dry scallops and sliced abalone clam with vegetables
Course 6 - Deep fried crispy chicken
Course 7 - Stir fried lobsters in supreme sauce with ginger & green onions
Course 8 - Steamed seasonal fish
Course 9 - House fried rice
Course 10 - Braised E-fu noodles
Course 11 - dessert & coffee

restaurant review: tako sushi

Restaurant: Tako Sushi
Location: 1300 Don Mills Rd., Toronto, ON
Telephone: 416-391-9188
Meal type: Dinner

Average price per person: $11-$25

What I ordered: Spicy Maki Set, Green Tea


Comments: This is my third visit to Tako Sushi. It's a nice clean place with consistantly good food and nice wait-staff. They offer varied menu items and interesting tasting menus.

I was a bit disappointed on this visit as they forgot our complimentary edamame until we asked for some and our dinners took a very long time and all came at staggered times. The waiter was very apologetic and nice, but even good service can't speed up the kitchen output. I'm hoping next time the kitchen will have worked out the whole timing issue thing.

My spicy maki set was pretty standard - nothing to write home about. I was way happier with my dinner the last time I visited (I ordered a special roll and Sushi Pizza), so I'll probably go that route on my next visit.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

paul's pinapple suprise

My brother-in-law Paul made his famous Pineapple dessert and I finally got to try it. It's his secret recipe, but it's basically pineapple, brown sugar and Grand Marnier flambéed sauce poured on top of vanilla ice cream and served in a hollowed out pineapple for that final touch. The warm sauce melts the ice cream just enough to make a delicious mess of a dessert. If you're a pineapple lover I really urge you to try taking your own spin on this concoction.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

night market 2008

This year I'm hoping to check out Night Market. It's a celebration of Asian food and culture that always attracts lots of people and happens in Markham, just North of Toronto.

When: Friday July 11 (7pm-1am) & Saturday July 12 (1pm to 1am)
Where: Metro Square Plaza and New Century Plaza
Address: 3636 Steeles Ave. East. (West of Warden & Steeles)

I've heard it gets super crowded, so don't forget to carpool or take public transit!

Image from:

Friday, July 4, 2008

dinner in the sky

Was anyone around Yonge and Dundas this past Wednesday?

I had last heard about Dinner In The Sky when it "happened" in Paris, France. And yesterday I read about it again in the Toronto Star when it helped kick off Summerlicious high above Dundas Square. Kudos to American Express for bringing this latest craze to Canada!

To put it simply Dinner In The Sky is a truly unique dining experience where diners are suspended 50 metres in the air by a crane. Patrons are secured into their seats while they enjoy both a gourmet meal and a thrilling view. Invented in 2006 by 2 Belgiums it now has licensees in 16 countries.

I think it's pretty genius - too bad it's way out of my price range. What will they come up with next?

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