Sunday, 27 November 2011

Song Cook's Authentic Korean Restaurant


(Photos courtesy of M.C.)
My foodie friends discovered this little gem north of Steeles and Yonge a while ago and to celebrate a friend's super belated by a month birthday - we decided to grab the BDay dinner here. The restaurant is actually pretty hard to find unless you know where it is since it's not visible on the street. It is located at the back of an easily overlooked plaza and I think the place primarily trades on word of mouth which works really well for them since the food is amazing and the layout is very traditional and authentic.

The best part about the layout? The floors are heated! So even if you have to sit cross-legged or kneeling - you'll be warm and toasty (Perfect for the Winter!)
In case the words are totally foreign to you, there's pictures with the food above the kitchen area which helps give you an idea about what it is you're ordering. 

Pork Bone Soup (KamJa Tang)
Pork Bone soup is a staple of most authentic Korean restaurants - it's everywhere! It usually doesn't come with a lot of meat on the pork bones because the meat is usually used for other cooking and the pork bone remains just add flavour to the soup, but in this case, there was a LOT of meat on the pork bones and the soup was loaded with other stuff (as you can see from the tower of veggies). This pork bone soup wasn't very spicy (i.e. perfect for me) and it was DELICIOUS - lots of flavour and a very hearty meal with the rice. 

Chicken Terriyaki
I love Chicken dishes and this Chicken Terriyaki dish is no exception. I feel like you can never really go wrong with chicken dishes. The chicken was perfectly cooked - moist on the inside and the crazy pile of veggies underneath made me feel like I was eating healthier than I actually was. Yum!


Beef Shortribs (JimKalBi)
Korean Kalbi is one of my favourite ways to eat ribs - the sauce is amazing! The ribs were very good and the waiters at the restaurant had the foresight to leave us a pair of scissors so we could cut up the ribs into smaller manageable pieces to eat. 

Deep Fried Dumplings (Gun Mandu)
These were delicious! I thought they might resemble Chinese Pot-stickers or Japanese Gyoza, but surprisingly they didn't quite taste like either one - the outside layer was crispier and thinner than what I usually eat in pot-stickers or gyoza and they offered us Ketchup to dip it in (with the pot-stickers and gyoza, you usually get vinegar aka "cho" or soy sauce). 

We also got the JaJangMyun and a few other things. The JaJangMyun is a black bean sauce with veggies (usually cucumber slices) and some meat. I've had it a few times at a few Korean places, but they've usually turned out terribly since I'm slightly biased in that I love the Shanghai version of JaJangMyun (because it's the one I've grown up with and most Shanghai places in Toronto do a great job making it well). So my expectations for this Korean version were pretty low, however, I was really pleasantly surprised! They made  a good version of the JaJangMyun! And Song Cook's is probably the only Korean place I've tried so far that can make a good one. So I would definitely recommend getting it here! 

Website: http://songcooks.com/

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Cafe Maxim's Patisserie

Cafe Maxim's offers a prix fixe option where if you add $8 (per person) to your entrĂ©e meal, you can get a salad, soup and a slice of one of their cakes which is a pretty decent deal since the cakes are pretty good.
They had two soup specials that day, a creamy borscht soup in the top picture (that was kind of watery) and a minestrone soup (also very watery with a lot of cabbage). 


Since we ordered the Seafood Paella for two, we got a smoked salmon plate as an appetizer which was good! My brother got the normal salad which was decent.

The Duck a l'Orange - I like duck and I like oranges, but I figured out at Cafe Maxim's that I really don't like them together. The orange taste was overpowering here and the duck tasted gamy. This wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but my brother must have liked it because he finished his plate. I don't know if it was a badly done Duck a L'Orange or if I just don't like the combination. My favourite type of cooked bird meat is chicken (although perfectly cooked Ostrich is my secret weakness) and I do occasionally eat duck even if it's not my favourite - but this dish? The duck was terrible.

The Seafood Paella for two - this was well-done! I had quite a lot of Paella in Spain and although this wasn't to the same level of the Paella in Spain - it was still enjoyable. Good food in general - some things that were unexpected but nice were: crab legs - I definitely didn't get that in Spain, and chicken. I couldn't recall if there was Chicken in Seafood Paella? But it was still pretty good! I think this should have been called Seafood Paella for 3 because after I stuffed myself silly - I still had leftovers for lunch the next day.

And now the best part....Cake! This was some chocolate cake my brother got - it was good - but not as good as:
Mango Meringue - oh wow - this was soooo good!!! The Meringue's at Cafe Maxim's are super yummy! They're not as heavy and super sweet as normal French Desserts (mostly because they cater more to Asian tastes which are milder), but they're delicious! The mango pieces and the cream and the crispy outer shell? Wow - I think this is a definite "Must Try" here.

Lastly, the mango cheesecake - not as heavy or sweet as most English/French desserts - but very nicely put together. The crust of the cake was kind of dough-y but the actual cheesecake was very nicely done.

Cafe Maxim's Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Fire on the East Side


My friends and I were going to Yorkville on a Saturday to do some shopping ( CC for Shoes and me for a purse) and we decided to make a day out of it since we were driving downtown. We parked nearby and did a quick Google search for Brunch places nearby and came across Fire on the East Side which got pretty good reviews. When we checked out the restaurant it was pretty packed, but luckily we got a booth and we squeezed in to eat our Brunch. We got some banana bread as a starter (of which I forgot to take a picture) but it was delicious - very moist and flavourful. My friend ordered the Quiche above with chorizo, potato, bacon and white cheddar and it came with a salad (which was really yummy), a slice of honeydew (don't ask) and some pretty delicious fries.  The quiche was ok...but I think my meal was much better! Sorry NK!

I had the Shrimp and Chorizo Breakfast Empanadas with shredded shrimp and chorizo, cheddar cheese, potato on a bed of scrambled eggs and all topped with a chipotle hollandais. At first I was pretty scared of the Chipotle hollandais since I'm really averse to spicy food (aka I can't handle the heat at all and would run screaming out of the kitchen), but it wasn't very spicy and added a flavourful element to the normal hollandais which I liked. (I also felt like this was the only item on the brunch list with eggs that weren't poached - I'm not a fan of poached eggs, give me scrambled any day). So all in all - very enjoyable! The downside? It cost $14 without tax and tip....yikes!

My other friend ordered the Crab cake bennie (and I had a stupid moment on Saturday morning when I asked "What's a bennie???"). When we actually tried it, we ate about 1/3 of the bennie before we realized there was no crab cake in it (well CC realized it wasn't very crabby - and the rest of us tried a bit before we agreed). Turns out, someone screwed up her order and gave her a Turkey mash bennie instead, but the waitress was great and gave her the correct order after. The crab cake bennie was much better than the Turkey mash (probably because it was the correct order), but the crab cakes were pretty spicy (I couldn't handle it as well as my friend did). It was interesting to try it at least! After all, I don't usually see Crab cakes and eggs benedict together (I'm not a big brunch person - it's probably easier and cheaper to make eggs at home than to go out for brunch).

Overall, the experience was good - it was just expensive for brunch at Fire at the East Side.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Joons


My friend and I went to dinner at Joons Restaurant in North York at Yonge and Sheppard and got the Dak Galbi (I think?) with the chicken, seafood, ramen noodles, rice cakes and veggies all tossed together. It was very interesting and pretty tasty with Teriyaki sauce (since I can't eat it with spicy sauce because I have zero spice tolerance). It was super cool how they served it in a big pan, unfortunately in our case they didn't toss it right in front of our eyes - but it was still good regardless. The meal came up to about $12 per person excluding tax and tip which is reasonable since it managed to fill both me and my friend.  

Website: No particular website, but for other reviews and menu see: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/10/1466134/restaurant/North-York/Joons-Korean-Cuisine-Toronto

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Ruelo


The layout of the store (pics are all courtesy of M.C)

We originally went for cake since it was my friend's birthday, but they had like 2 types of cake available on a Friday night and neither were appealing to us...so we had a macaron party!

Our selection of macarons! Clockwise from the top left: Rose Lychee Raspberry, Vanilla, Blueberry Lemon, another Rose Lychee Raspberry, Ruelo, another Ruelo and Passionfruit (aka. the hamburger look-a-like). Prices ranged from $2.50 a macaron to $3 per macaron --> I spent $9 on $3 macarons including tax - I think that's a pretty good handle of how much they cost here. 
 
Up close view of the macarons - you can totally see the hamburger! 
In general, my friends and I were not that impressed by the macarons at Ruelo, they were super crumbly when we tried to divide them up to share and some of the combination of flavours did not work well together (case in point - blueberry lemon, the foot was "blueberry" but really it just tasted like a blue food colouring cookie with lemon curd in the middle - we weren't impressed). The Ruelo was good, but one out of five macarons would not entice us to come back to have macarons here again.