Monday, 29 October 2012

Salad King

October 9, 2012

Salad King used to be the place to be for Thai food in Toronto until the building burnt down in April 2009. The owners opened up Linda at Shops at Don Mills, and eventually they re-opened Salad King near the Ryerson Campus again.
Salad King interior on the second floor
It's very similar in format to the original location with their long tables - you can brush shoulders with everyone from business people in suits to students. 

Thai Fried Rice $8.50
Rice, egg, shrimp, chicken, carrot, onion, pea and curry sauce
The fried rice was really yummy! It wasn't too spicy even though the menu indicated it would be spicy - I thought it was really tasty and it was such a large portion too! The quality is much better than a food court Thai place and it's about the same price: I would say that it's pretty good value. 

Phud Thai with Chicken $9
Rice noodle, carrot, peanut, tofu, green onion, bean sprout, coriander, egg, fish sauce and tamarind sauce. 
The last time I had Salad King's Phud Thai (or pad thai), I remember being wowed. This time, I wasn't wowed by this dish - it was okay. I thought there were way too many peanuts on this dish - almost like they were using the nuts to cover up for something else.

Overall: The portions are quite large and you really do get what you pay for - however, I think the quality of the food has decreased from what I remember. I think I would recommend Linda instead of Salad King for good Thai food now.

Update: Oct 29, 2012
Thai Islamic Noodles $10.50 (off the menu)
Thai Islamic Noodles are rice noodles in a mild and milky coconut curry sauce with broccoli, peppers, chicken and shrimp. It's a great blend of sweetness from the coconut milk with a hint of spice from the curry (and of course you can make it hotter up to 20 chilis). Very creamy and tasty. 

Website: http://www.saladking.com/
Salad King on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Elegant Chinese Cuisine

Elegant Chinese Cuisine is on Highway 7, a little east of Markville Mall. 
Monday to Friday, they have a dim sum promotion from 9am to 3:30pm where all sizes of dim sum (S, M, L) are all $2.60 (the regular price of small dim sum dishes is $2.60 while the medium and large sizes are more expensive).
It's a lot bigger than it appears on the outside....

Baby squid in curry sauce and Har Gow
The curry sauce was great: a nice blend of spiciness and tastiness. I wish they steamed the baby squid more to make it more tender - then it would be the perfect dim sum dish!
Har gow had a very sticky and thick skin which made it not that pleasant to eat and it was relatively bland.

1) Congee with pickled gai choi, pork and century egg. I thought that the congee either had some celery in it or it had a celery taste which threw me off since I'm used to just eating the normal pickled gai choi, pork and century egg congee. The celery added a crisp, sweet taste that contrasted with the pickled choi and pork.  
2) Fried Noodles with beansprouts. The noodles weren't too oily which was nice, but they were a little bland though. 
3) Taro Dumpling: it was a deep fried dish with meat and taro - the dish went bad, so we didn't eat anything beyond the first bite.

Zhaliang 
This was really good! The crispy youtiao inside with the rice noodle on top and soy sauce...mmmmm

Top: Lo mai gai and Bottom: Shumai
The lo mai gai was pretty filling with lots of rice and pork and there was even some egg yolk inside.
Shumai was delicious! Super meaty, fish eggs were good and it was fresh. 

Deep fried tofu in black bean sauce
I found the sauce was bland which didn't help the tofu since tofu usually needs the sauce to add flavour to it. 

Overall: Decent dim sum - the service was fast, prices were reasonable and food was okay. 

Elegant Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Doner Kebab House

I've been seriously craving Döner Kebab ever since my trip to Berlin last year.
So with a little research on Google, I found the Doner Kebab House next to Big Slice (and it came highly rated on Yelp - so I figured it was worth a chance). 
The menu is pretty simple: (1) chicken or veal, (2) plate or sandwich...

Doner Kebab (chicken) sandwich $6 (incl. tax)
As you can see, it was really poorly wrapped and kind of fell apart. I was pretty disappointed:
a) the pita was hard and too chewy (I really had to use my canine teeth to rip into it) 
b) I asked for more garlic sauce, but it turned out to be really watery and runny - leaking everywhere
c) the ingredients weren't particularly fresh either: the chicken was really dry, cold and hard and the lettuce was borderline wilty.  
It definitely wasn't my best döner experience.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Sansotei Ramen

The new ramen place on the block with Sansotei opening up on Dundas Street West between University and Bay (in direct competition with Kenzo two blocks east on Dundas) and it's been getting rave reviews.
 
Before the 12pm Lunch rush                               12pm Lunch rush

The four 6-seater tables means that it's a bit of a tetris game for the wait staff: how many combinations of people can I make to maximize the seating space? (It's like I'm in Grade 12 Data Management all over again). 
Tonkotsu ramen $9.25
Pork Bone broth with black fungus, egg, chashu and green onions
Wow - this broth is AMAZING! Creamy, rich and flavourful - it wasn't too salty and it was a great way to tie all the ingredients together. The chashu was a nice balance of fat and meat and yummy on its own. It was such a great bowl of ramen that I finished it all:  

Overall: I'll definitely be back! It's really perfect for a quick 1/2 hour lunch - quick service, decent price and delicious food: Sansotei's ramen is the perfect way to warm you up on a chilly day - hearty and yummy. 

Sansotei Ramen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Pizza Libretto

After salivating over the BlogTo Best Pizza in Toronto list, I couldn't wait to try out Pizza Libretto (which was #1 on the list)
The front door boasts certified authentic Neapolitan pizza
The menu was simple and straight forward, so my friend and I were originally going for an appetizer and pizza to share, but then our friendly server recommended that we get two pizzas and share them instead. 

Rosemary bread with yummy balsamic and olive oil mix

Margherita D.O.P., Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella
Wood Fire ovens add a great crispiness to most pizza crusts. Libretto's pizza crust has a doughy, chewy Naan-like texture which is very yummy. It's a nice change from all the thin-crust or thick greasy crust pizza I've been eating.

I loved the fragrant basil leaves which was also nicely complemented with the gooey mozzarella and super fresh and tangy tomato sauce. Yum! Simple and delicious!

 
House-Made Sausage, Caramelized Onion, Mozzarella, Chili Oil
I really liked this pizza! The sweet caramelized onions contrasted with the chili oil and created this complex and powerful punch of flavour. It wasn't too spicy either - a little hint of heat from the chili oil and it added a nice orange colour to the pizza. The morsels of sausage were delectable - but I have to say my favourite part of the pizza was the perfectly done caramelized onions - Wow!

Overall: Great place! Service was fantastic and super fast (we ordered our pizza and in less time than it takes to go to the washroom, they arrived at our table). The pizzas were authentic, fresh and delicious!

Pizzeria Libretto on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Frangipane

I was seriously craving tarts today: so I did my research, grabbed my Metropass and set off to satisfy my sweet tooth.
I got off at Dupont station a little disoriented, but luckily I remembered the directions on the website and I immediately started heading in the direction of the LCBO. 

Oooh la la!

White chocolate cheesecake tart with French caramel topping $5.50
Appearances are deceiving...I had to ask the lady at the counter to repeat the name of the tart because I was so sure it was a pumpkin tart or some other autumn inspired tart. 
When I actually tried it - OMG Yum! The french caramel topping was sweet, rich and super decadent. It overpowered the cheesecake, but I didn't care because I couldn't get enough of it! It wasn't overwhelmingly sweet: I thought it was similar to a dulce de leche cheesecake, but the caramel topping was tastier, more viscous and heavy than dulce de leche. 
I think I've been spoiled by Clafouti's pie crusts which are clean, neat, delicious and not crumbly. The pie crusts at Frangipane just couldn't compare. 

Apple almond tart $5.50
Caramelized apple slices fanned over a base of almond frangipane. 
Really delicious! A great apple almond tart! I love their frangipane - it's amazing! 

Overall: The tarts are really good! It's a little pricier than some of the other places, but it's also slightly larger. The selection isn't as great, but you can also pre-order the tart you want in advance.

Frangipane on Urbanspoon

Monday, 8 October 2012

Guu Sakabar

After months of hearing rave reviews about the food and listening to stories about the crazy line ups to get in - I finally made it to the popular Izakaya on Bloor Street. 
It's very distinctive - the restaurant sign was a little hard to find...but they had this awesome menu by the door:

Inside Sakabar

The Cool Tables! No kneeling required.

The normal menu and the Daily Menu

 
Nama Grapefruit - half a grapefruit, vodka and soda $6
The best part is the squeezing/juicing of the grapefruit!

Salmon Tataki and Maguro Tataki
Salmon Tataki was seared B.C. salmon sashimi with ponzu, wasabi mayo and garlic chips, while the Maguro Tataki was seared B.C. tuna sashimi with ponzu and garlic chips. 
I didn't like the salmon tataki as much as the tuna tataki because of the wasabi mayo. I found that it made a huge difference because the sauce had such a strong and distinct taste that it overshadowed the actual flavour of the fish. 
Sashimi Platter
7 kinds of assorted sashimi for $30: salmon, sea urchin, tuna, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, lobster and scallop
It was all very fresh and yummy! This was my first time trying shrimp sashimi (I was super uncomfortable sucking out the head of the shrimp), lobster sashimi (which is really good) and sea urchin (I automatically thought of the uni sushi in the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi)

Takoyaki
Deep fried octopus balls with tonkatsu sauce and karashi mayo
The takoyaki was tasty but I didn't really taste the octopus inside the deep fried batter. Bonito flakes weren't too strong which was nice.

Tofu Steak
Fried tofu with mushroom sauce on sizzling plate
What a great vegetarian dish! I loved the meaty tofu steak and the mushroom sauce was delicious!

Karubi
Grilled miso marinated beef short ribs
The group enjoyed these short ribs better than the short ribs we had at Daisho - very flavourful and no fat!

Karaage
Deep fried soy sauce marinated chicken served with garlic mayo
Chunks of boneless white meat with a nice crispy finish. It's a relatively simple dish with simple flavours - I would rather eat fried chicken at Popeye's though.

Gindara 
Grilled miso marinated black cod with yuzu miso sauce
OMG - this was AMAZING! The meat was flaky, tender and just melted in your mouth with that delectable yuzu miso sauce. I would highly recommend ordering this dish! It's so good!

Kakimayo
Baked B.C. oyster with mushroom, spinach, and garlic mayo topped with cheese. 
This was an interesting appetizer to share...with all the mushrooms, spinach and cheese, it felt like a game of where's the oyster. 

Kinoko Bibimbap
rice, mushroom & cheese with seaweed sauce in sizzling stone bowl
 When they brought the bowl to the table, the waitress presented it to us and then proceeded to do some crazy quick mixing and served us this lovely bowl after. Yummy! The mushroom and seaweed sauce is a great combination and I love the stickiness of the cheese because it really held everything together.

Salmon Natto Yukke
chopped salmon sashimi with seven friends (natto, takuan, shibazuke, scallion, cucumber, garlic chips & raw egg yolk)
Originally, I wanted to stay very far away from this dish when I saw the word "Natto" in the name. For people that don't know, Natto is a popular breakfast dish in Japan of fermented soybeans. The soybeans have a really pungent smell and sticky stringy texture when stirred together. The first time I smelt natto in Japan, I found it extremely off-putting - so I've steered clear of it since. 
My friend said that the seven friends dish was good the last time she tried it here - so I decided to give it a shot (and hope that the garlic chips, takuan: daikon radish and shibazuke: purple pickles would cover up the smell and taste of the natto). Maybe it was me, or maybe it was the strong stinky smell of the natto - but I couldn't bring myself to enjoy this dish. 

Torikawa
deep fried chicken skin with ponzu sauce
Crispy and chewy at the same time...I guess that's fried chicken skin for you.

Hotacaru
seared Hokkaido scallop carpaccio with yuzu pepper dressing
Delicious! The scallops were done wonderfully and the dressing was a great pairing for the dish.

Yaki Udon
Pan fried udon noodles with beef, mushrooms and scallion

Saba Oshizushi
Blowtorch cured mackerel pressed sushi
WOW! This was so delicious - each morsel was packed with flavour and perfect. We didn't get a blowtorch show like at Fin Izakaya, but the sushi was so good that it more than made up for it.

Sashimi salad
Today's assorted sashimi on greens - octopus, salmon and a white fish...
A nice salad - beautifully presented

Carbonara udon
creamy udon noodles with bacon, onion, and half boiled egg
The carbonara sauce was really tasty - I was quite impressed. 

They also have a separate dessert menu and "Birthday menu" which we ordered this off of:
Seven Samurai
7 types of sake shooters!

Overall: I had a great experience at Guu Sakabar! It really gives the authentic Izakaya experience from beginning to end: you get the full bar experience with the random shouting and celebrations throughout the restaurant while you're eating and everything is share-able  Izakaya's are best to go in bigger groups since you get to try more items (and it also helps to keep the per person cost a little lower since it tends to be more expensive on a per plate basis). The food is delicious! I was pretty happy with everything I had.

Website: http://guu-izakaya.com/sakabar/
Guu Sakabar on Urbanspoon