Monday, 31 December 2012

Luma

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On the second floor of the Tiff Bell Lightbox building is Luma, another Oliver & Bonacini restaurant. 

Another photography fail...I don't know why I thought these looked okay without flash. Generally, I try to avoid using flash photography in restaurants because I know it's really annoying and distracting to your companions and other restaurant patrons. It's a fine line between wanting your blog entries to be nice vs. driving people insane in the restaurant with your cameras (in this case the latter won)
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Burrata cheese with butternut squash, spiced walnuts and black pepper maple vinaigrette $17

The mozzarella was soft with a delicate and light taste. The butternut squash purée and vinaigrette added a stronger flavour to the creamy cheese. It was beautifully presented. 


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Arctic Char with parsnip purée, roasted salsify, parsley root and red wine vanilla jus $26
I really liked the medley of root vegetables especially the long strips of roasted salsify. The arctic char was also really nicely done with a crispy skin and tender flaky meat.

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Steak frites with grilled strip loin with red wine braised shallots and truffle parmesan fries $29 
Truffle (or truffle oil) really does make everything better (it has an additional benefit of allowing restauranteurs and chefs to hike up the price tag on a dish). The fries were delicious and the steak was a nice medium rare. 

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Pistachio Financier with cardamom poached pear, gianduja chocolate mousse and almond milk ice cream $9
Amazing! I loved the pistachio financier (small, light and moist French cake made with almond flour) - it was delicate, tasty and who doesn't love the combination of pistachio and almond? Add that to the beautifully spiced poached pears, dollops of rich hazelnut and chocolate mousse and light and creamy almond ice cream and you officially have one of the best desserts of 2012. WOW!

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Sticky Toffee Pudding with whisky butter sauce, apple compote and chestnut ice cream $9
This dessert was a little disappointing considering the portion size and price. The plating looks artistic, but the sticky toffee pudding kind of tasted like fruitcake. It tasted better with the whisky butter sauce, apple compote and chestnut ice cream, but I'd prefer the pistachio financier. 

Overall: Great meal at Luma! The food was really nice, service was attentive and quick (they were considerate and accommodating around showtimes and schedules), and the ambiance was great. Little heads up: Luma is definitely on the pricier side of things. 


Luma on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sushi on 7

I had a serious craving for All You Can Eat Sushi, so we went to Sushi on 7:
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The main difference between the dinner menu and the regular menu is mainly sashimi (and maybe a few more rolls)
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Spider rolls (Soft shell crab) (8 pc.) and Spicy Salmon roll (6 pc)
The restaurant lets you order in increments of 4 and 8 for certain rolls and other rolls come in 6. 
I love soft shell crab rolls; they serve the rolls with crunchy and meaty crab, avocado, cucumbers and imitation crab. I really like the way they do the rolls here too - there's not too much rice and there's a ton of ingredients to pack the rolls. 
The spicy salmon was good too! Not super spicy but enough to add a nice kick to the sushi. 

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Dinner only: Green Dragon Roll
Tempura shrimp, imitation crab, cucumber and avocado with avocado and fish roe on top. I found that I liked the Crispy Dragon roll (below) better than the Green Dragon roll only offered at dinner:
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Crispy Dragon roll
They had BBQ eel and avocado on top of the roll and the same ingredients as the Green Dragon roll.
The sushi here was all tightly wrapped and perfectly bite sized (they fit nicely into your mouth Sushi Bong)

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Dinner only: Rainbow Roll
Imitation crab, cucumber, avocado rolls topped with assorted ingredients (raw salmon, avocado, raw shrimp and BBQ eel)

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Deep fried Squid Balls
Tiny, chewy and gummy balls with sauce for dipping.

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Deep fried Salmon head and Chicken gizzard skewers
I don't think I've seen on an AYCE menu (must be Chinese style AYCE sushi)

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Dinner only: Salmon sashimi and white tuna sashimi
Fresh buttery soft and delicious salmon. The pieces were pretty big too! We ordered more salmon cause it was so good. The white tuna was leaner and a little tougher (I love salmon sashimi more).

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Top: BBQ eel sushi pizza and Bottom: Enoki and beef rolls
I really liked the BBQ eel sushi pizza: the pizza was made of this crispy and chewy rice patty and topped with BBQ eel and like tempura yam or something soft. I learned that sushi pizza is a popular novelty in Toronto (thanks Wikipedia), I always thought it was just part of all AYCE menus.  
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Chicken Cutlet Udon
Cute little portion of chicken cutlet udon
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Dinner only: Wasabi mussels
They weren't very spicy at first and then I started feeling the heat. If I liked wasabi, I probably would have enjoyed these more...but I was too busy tearing up.
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Shrimp tempura
Crispy fried tempura
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Dinner only: Crème brûlée
I love crème brûlée; it's probably one of my favourite desserts. This one by Sushi on 7 tasted like an Asian version using egg custard rather than a vanilla custard. I kept thinking that this was like a Hong Kong Egg Tart with a little caramelized brown sugar on top - I can't say I was a fan.
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All things mango! Mango pudding and mango ice cream
The mango pudding tasted like it was out of a box and the mango ice cream was okay.
Sushi on 7 has more dessert options than a lot of AYCE places (I would have ordered the deep fried banana if I was able to keep eating).

Overall: I really liked Sushi on 7! The sashimi was good, rolls were tightly wrapped and ingredients were fresh, service was really fast and prices were reasonable.

Sushi on 7 on Urbanspoon

Friday, 28 December 2012

Beef Noodle Restaurant

The Beef Noodle Restaurant has been around for over 20 years in the same location. Apparently the management has changed over the years, but it's been a while since I've been here (we were more frequent customers across the street at Chicken & Noodles Chinese Restaurant on Glen Watson Drive, but unfortunately it closed earlier this year).
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The placemat menu with some specials.

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Tofu skin $3.50
It is a cold dish from the front counter and was immediately delivered to our table after we ordered it.
It was really yummy. 
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Pig's ears $3.50
A huge plateful of pig's ears. Instead of being jelly as they appear in the picture, the pig's ears are actually really chewy and crunchy from the cartilage. The ears are also marinated in a sauce which is really tasty. 
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Beef noodle soup $6.95
The soup is a flavourful and a little spicy. The beef was really delicious since it was so tender. We would have liked more noodles in the soup.
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Zhajiangmian
One of my favourite Chinese noodle dishes (the Chinese version is much better than the Korean jajangmyeon) with warm noodles, cucumbers and the ground pork & salty fermented soybean paste.
The Beef Noodle Restaurant does a fantastic finger-licking sauce and the cucumbers are plentiful and fresh.
If anything, there was too much sauce in the dish and not enough noodles again. (The opposite situation of Chinese Dumpling House)
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Pan fried dumplings (potstickers)
Very meaty dumplings, but I found the skin wasn't as crispy as I liked. 
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Braised grouper with deep fried tofu $6.95
The tofu was perfect! Crispy outside and soft & hot inside and the sauce was good. The grouper wasn't that great though, it was breaded but was soggy and gummy. 
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Xiaolongbao (Steamed soup buns)
The xiaolongbao didn't have a lot of soup in the bun (contrary to its original name) and the portions were tiny relative to other xiaolongbaos I've had. The skin was okay, but the meat was a little bland. 
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Onion pancake roll with beef $3.95
This was amazing! The beef was juicy and tender and the onion pancake was perfectly crispy on the outside and really flavourful. One of the better pancake rolls with onion and beef I've had.

Overall: Reasonable prices and decent service - some of the food was hit and miss, but I know I'd come back for the cold dishes (tofu skin & pig's ear), onion pancake roll and zhajiangmian. 
Beef Noodle King on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Big Fat Burrito

It's been a while since I've craved a burrito (the last time being at Burrito Bandidos). I decided to give another burrito place a try and made my way to Big Fat Burrito after seeing the positive reviews on Blogto.
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Ouch - is it just me or did burritos get expensive?

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Steak Burrito
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First up, I wasn't impressed by the size...I might have had higher expectations from the Blogto post. However, I found that this burrito wasn't particularly big or fat (the wrapper is kind of deceiving). I thought Burrito Bandidos or even Chipotle did a better job stuffing their burritos than Big Fat Burrito. They do give you all the toppings for free: refried beans, Mexican rice, Lettuce, Tomato, Cheese, Salsa, Guacamole, Green pepper and burrito sauce (jalapenos and hot sauce if you like spicy). If you're paying almost $9 and expecting a full meal - this might not be the place. There wasn't a lot of steak in the burrito either; it seemed like there was a lot of rice and beans which made the burrito super bland (not enough sauce either).
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I thought it was nice that they had a pulled pork option.
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I barely saw the pork and I didn't really get the flavour from it. This one had more tortilla in it than anything else.

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Yam burrito
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Definitely got the smushy yam in this burrito (finally a recognizable stuffing!) but still bland tasting.

Overall: I wasn't impressed - these definitely did not live up to the "Big Fat Burrito" name, rather they were small sized, expensive and bland burritos. I'd much rather go to Burrito Bandidos.

Big Fat Burrito on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Gal's Sushi

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Gal's Sushi is a Korean and Japanese restaurant located at Warden and Highway 7.
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Salad and miso soup to start off our lunch specials
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Sashimi, sushi and rolls Box
The sashimi was nice - I forgot that sushi rolls are usually made with wasabi between the raw fish/shrimp and the rice underneath (not exactly a pleasant surprise). They had a fried yam roll, spicy salmon roll (which was quite spicy) and California roll. After eating all the rice from the rolls and the sushi, I was a little puzzled about the rice in the corner of my bento box. On the other hand, I really liked the chapchae noodles even if they were cold.
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Tempura Chicken Box
The sauce of the terriyaki chicken was really sweet - I wasn't a big fan of that. The tempura was crispy and the potatoes marinated in sweet sauce were quite yummy.
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Salmon Bulgogi Box
They served quite a bit of grilled salmon and it was drenched in terriyaki sauce.
I really liked their bulgogi, despite not having a lot of sauce, it was still very flavourful and it tasted good with the rice.
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Salmon roll
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Sul Nong Tang
Sliced beef in beef bone broth
The broth was interesting - it was rather heavy on the garlic and had a grainy texture (possibly from the bone marrow). The beef was well-done in the soup.

Overall: I think they do Korean food better than they do Japanese. I found the prices were reasonable and the service was fast.

Gal's Sushi on Urbanspoon