Thursday, 26 April 2012

Johnny's Hamburgers

This place has been around for years and I've never really understood the reason...until now:

There's always a line because they serve huge portions of food for ridiculously cheap prices!

Where else can you get all this food: hamburger, fries and drink for under $6?

It's back to the basics: a bun, a hamburger patty and simple condiments. 
First the bun, it was too big for the patty - the patty was wide instead of thick (it probably would have worked better if it was thick instead of wide because then they could have gotten more suitable hamburger buns.) It was nice that the bun was buttered and toasted, but it was flimsy and it felt like for every mouthful you ate - it was probably 70% bun and 30% everything else.
The biggest disappointment was that they didn't have lettuce. Instead, they had some interesting condiments like sautéed onions and the normal ones like onions, pickles, relish, mayo, mustard, ketchup and tomato slices. 
If anything, the fries were crisp and evenly cut and really good. 

Overall: The main draw to Johnny's Hamburgers is that it's a cheap meal. It's also a true embodiment of the saying "you get what you pay for". 
Johnny's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

My Place Fish and Chips

Relatively simple menu! We were puzzled by the "few chips" until we actually tried it and realized it makes more sense to have a "few chips" than "chips" because it's a LOT of food.

Huge wrapped portions!

Halibut and chips on the left and haddock and chips on the right

The halibut was firmer in texture and meatier - a good solid lunch portion. This was a serious fish meant to be battered and fried in a lighter batter to golden brown perfection.
Meanwhile, the haddock was a lighter and fishier tasting piece of fried goodness with a crispier and flakier tempura batter. The fish meat was more delicate and with the different batter, it really showed off the contrast in textures.

Both of the fish fillets were fresh and delicious! Contrary to popular misconceptions about fish and chips, the fish and chips here weren't greasy or messy at all.
I loved their batter! It was consistently crispy and in both cases, the different batters served as the perfect complement to the meat of the fish.

The downside was the huge chunky chips. I found them kind of soggy and greasy (compared to the fish) - clearly the fish is the highlight here.

Scallops (and half a haddock with chips again)
At first, they looked quite large and I was kinda scared I wouldn't finish them all but it turned out that the scallops in batter were fried with a lot of air inside. 
The scallops were fresh and decently sized and I really enjoyed them with the dipping sauce which was tangy and sweet. 

Overall: My Place fish and chips serve really yummy fish! The philosophy seems simple here: fresh fish + great batter (and less greasy oil to fry the fish in) + quick service = customers who keep coming back. I would really recommend this restaurant if you're in the area (p.s. the prices are really reasonable!).

My Place fish & chips on Urbanspoon

Friday, 20 April 2012

Lou Dawg's Southern Sandwiches

Huge bar area, but there weren't that many tables. The place felt like a cross between a restaurant and a bar/club (but they haven't decided which they'd rather be).

2 meats and 2 sides
From the bottom right: Meaty BBQ Beans, Potato salad with honey mustard dressing, pulled pork and beef brisket with bread.
What appeared to be a rather small portion size of each dish turned out to be a LOT of food all together. The pulled pork and beef brisket were melt-in-your-mouth, succulent, tender morsels of meat packed with amazing flavour! 
As for the side dishes, I was expecting a light honey mustard dressing on the potato salad, but it turned out that you could really taste the mustard flavour (and there were even mustard seeds). I'm not a fan of mustard  - so I really didn't like the potato salad. On the other hand, the meaty BBQ beans were phenomenal! I think there were chunks of the beef brisket in the beans (which made it even better), but WOW - I think that side dish was one of my favourite parts of the meal - YUMMY!

3 meats and 2 sides
From the bottom: beef brisket, pulled chicken, pulled pork, black bean corn salad with chipotle lime dressing, sweet potato fries and bread.
My friend got this combination and I ended up stealing some of the chicken (I wasn't brave enough to order it because I was afraid it might be too dry). The chicken was REALLY good! It wasn't dry at all and it was meaty and soaked in that great sauce that they have - you really can't go wrong with their meats here! The other part I loved about this meal was the black bean corn salad - it was colourful, fresh and delicious! I kept eating it only to realize after a few forkfuls that it actually has a spicy tang to it (after which I did a desperate dive for my Tennessee Ice tea with Jack Daniels, Honey and Lemon - sweet reprieve!)

St. Louis Style Ribs (full rack)
What a huge rack of ribs! There was a ton of mouthwatering meat drenched in their bold Smoky BBQ sauce. It really made you gnaw at the bones to get all the meat and sauce - but beware! It has a bit of a slow burning kick to it. 

Overall: I love this place! I'd totally recommend it if you're in the area for great Southern Style BBQ, good drinks and awesome live music on Friday nights. The few complaints I had were slow service and a lack of tables, but otherwise it was great!

Lou Dawg's Southern Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Chiu Chow Boy

Bright and spacious inside - the restaurant has the space of two storefronts. It's definitely larger than it appears from the outside.

Chinjew Chicken with deep fried kale $7.50
At first we thought the dish wasn't chicken, the meat was rather tough. The chinjew sauce brought an interesting flavour and the deep fried kale was crispy, but overall the dish was too dry. 

Fukien Fried Rice $9.50
Huge portion with tons of chicken cubes, sliced gai-lan stems, shrimps, carrots, scallops, egg and sauce. One of my favourite fried rice dishes - they do it well at Chiu Chow Boy. 

Lo-sui Duck (direct translation is "old water" duck) $10.50
It's called lo-sui because the juices from meats cooked are added into the original sauce (which is constantly replenished but never replaced). In Chiu Chow cusine, lo-sui is a master sauce used to make many dishes. It  is a rather strong sauce and it might take some getting used to it; I think of it as similar to the way people like blue cheese (although it's nowhere similar in taste), you either hate the pungent smell or eventually it grows on you.
The lo-sui duck here was delicious! The sauce is soaked into the duck and gives it a great flavour. If you're looking to try it for the first time, I recommend it here since it's not as strong as some of the lo-sui dishes I've had in the past (so it's a good introduction to lo-sui cooking).

Noodles with Salty Pork Hock $6.50
This was probably the disappointment of the night: the pork hock was all fatty meat and it wasn't that great. The noodles and soup base were really good though and it probably would have been better with the lo-sui duck (yum!)

Overall: the food is great authentic Chiu Chow cuisine - really tasty! Service was decent, if anything the prices are slightly more expensive, but you can still have a meal for 4 people for under $50 (gotta love asian restaurants). 
Chiu Chow Boy on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Wanda's Belgian Waffles

When walking down Yonge street, you would probably notice the take-out window of Wanda's Waffles and assume that the store was just the waffle window. However, if you go in through the side, there's a whole different sitting area inside with some tables and another counter for other food. 

Yummy! $4.79 for an Original Belgian Waffle with Ice cream. 
The waffle was freshly made and crispy on the outside while warm and doughy on the inside and with the pistachio ice cream (which is absolutely amazing! there's real pistachio nuts and you can actually taste that it's pistachio! Finally somewhere in Toronto where they do a good pistachio! I could probably eat a tub of the stuff without stopping) and chocolate sauce - it's absolutely heavenly...
I'll be back.... when the weather gets warmer.