Saturday, 31 January 2015

Seoul House

One of my friends was seriously craving Korean food, so we went to Seoul House on a recommendation:
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It's a little difficult to see it from the street since it's in a plaza area and the restaurant faces away from the street. However, once inside the plaza area, you can't miss the big blue sign. 
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Side dishes! 
The potatoes and the jap chae were really good. The kimchi was good too, with a slow burn that built up gradually - but the spiciest side dish was the kimchi radishes. 

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Jajangmyun
The jajangmyun was very tasty - the sauce was sweet and savoury and it had the perfect ratio of sauce to noodles so that there wasn't too much sauce left over or too little sauce to cover the noodles. 

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Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup)
There was a lot of seasoning on the pork bone that we could see. The soup base was tasty and a little spicy, but it was diluted a bit because of all the cabbage and probably too much water. 

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Jjamppong (Spicy seafood soup with noodles)
The broth was really spicy, but it was really good with lots of seafood and ingredients to make it filling. 

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Cooling dessert tea

Overall: Lots of options here at Seoul House - they're known for their BBQ, but they have a wide variety of Korean dishes to choose from if you're in the mood for Korean. The service was fast and they were really nice (especially after refilling our potato side dish about 3 times). 

Green Grotto Tea Room

We had a few hours to kill so we headed to Green Grotto to have some bubble tea and play some games.
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It's a great hangout/study place with free wifi and free popcorn, so there were plenty of students and groups hanging out here. 
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Menu
Even though it was so cold and snowy outside, we went for cold drinks:
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Hokkaido Specialty Milk Black Tea
This Hokkaido bubble tea was REALLY GOOD! It was rich in flavour with this great sweet cream taste. However, it wasn't super sweet or anything, rather it hit that perfect balance. I would definitely recommend this drink here. 

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Okinawa Brown Sugar Specialty Milk Black Tea
It was similar to the Hokkaido bubble tea, but it was made with brown sugar instead of white sugar (according to the waitress). I found this tea actually sweeter than the Hokkaido tea and it had this very slight hint of burnt flavour. It was good, but in comparison to the Hokkaido tea, it fell short. 

Overall: Great place to hang out (which probably explains all the Asian girls), study (lots of students with laptops) or play games (but you have to BYOG - bring your own games). The service was really good too - they kept bringing us popcorn whenever we asked and the drinks were really good. 

Keung's Delight

We were hanging out in the Markham area and decided to grab lunch at Keung's Delight
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Steamed Tiger Shrimp and Egg White Fried Rice in Lotus Leaf
The tiger shrimp were SO GOOD - they were tender and juicy and packed with flavour. So, apparently steaming things in Lotus leaves makes things better. The rice dish was so fragrant and it was such a big portion (great value for money here!)

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Cantonese Chow Mein
Very colourful and pretty. Personally, I like it when my chow mein comes already mixed so that there's no crunchy noodles sticking out without sauce - but this one wasn't mixed (oh well). 
The beef, chicken, snow peas, broccoli, red peppers, onions and shrimps were all very good and there was definitely enough sauce. However, this dish was totally overshadowed by the fried rice. 

Overall: The tiger shrimp and egg white fried rice steamed in lotus leaf is something you should definitely order here! They do it really well! The service was really quick and the food was good and reasonably priced. (Note: they only take cash or debit)

Friday, 30 January 2015

Guu Izakaya

January 30, 2015
Irrashaimase! I feel like my knowledge of random Japanese words has been lacking lately and this dining experience was a big welcome back.
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Nasu Miso
Following my recent obsession with nasu dengaku (miso eggplant), I knew I had to order this when I saw it on the menu

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It's a nice purple colour and the eggplant looked really nice with the green onions and sesame.
The eggplant was really oily and not as soft as the one at Shinobu, but the format made it easy to share with a group.

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Karaage
Fried Chicken Bites - delicious and simple with mayonnaise and lemon. I'll take a bucket full of this over greasy KFC chicken.

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Unagi Doria with BBQ eel, mushroom and cheese on rice
I love BBQ eel and I feel like you can never go wrong with it. I'm always a little surprised when I see cheese in Asian food because we don't use a lot of cheese in cooking - but the cheese turned out really well in this because it added a slight hint of saltiness to balance out the sweet eel. 

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Lobster Sashimi
It looked fantastic! However, it wasn't really lobster sashimi because the lobster was cooked and chilled. There were some good sized chunks though. 

Overall: Guu Izakaya is one of those places where you can always count on delicious food and quick service. The only thing you have to watch out for is the prices - it can add up pretty quick and the smaller your party - the higher the cost because Izakayas are all about large groups eating and drinking together. 

March 22, 2013

The Guu Izakaya location on Church Street was the first Toronto branch of the popular Guu Izakaya franchise in Vancouver. I've heard that this branch was "better" than Sakabar on Bloor and I was excited to see if this was true or not.
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I walked in expecting to be served the same izakaya menu as the one online. Instead, Guu Izakaya had a separate lunch menu. The lunch menu was set up to be individual plates/meals rather than the sharing menu popular at Izakayas. In a way, it does make sense: Izakayas serve Japanese bar food (and alcoholic drinks) at night and they'd have to cater to a different clientele at lunch. 
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Menus
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The meals were served on individual trays like a bento box:
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Toriten
Chicken Tempura with Tar-tare sauce and tempura sauce on the side
The tar-tare sauce was different: made with a pink mayonnaise (possibly coloured by beets) and chunks of chopped boiled egg in it. It didn't have the same salty and tangy taste I was expecting with tartar sauce. 
The battered chicken was fried to a nice crispy texture. I liked some of the sides including the miso soup with potatoes and carrots, the fried tofu behind the miso soup was also really good and the salad with soy sauce dressing was nice. 

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Hirekatsu
Panko breaded pork tenderloin with sweet miso sesame sauce
I liked the way the miso sesame sauce complemented the mini crispy fried pork cutlets. 

Overall: The service was okay and we had a decent lunch at Guu Izakaya. I still want to come back for the real Izakaya menu at dinner.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Symposium Cafe Restaurant & Lounge

After trying the Lion Chai from T by Daniel at the Seasons Christmas Show, my best friend and I REALLY wanted some good Chai tea. Unfortunately, we live nowhere near Brampton and we weren't about to make a trip all the way out there in the snow and cold. So we settled for Symposium Cafe Restaurant & Lounge in Thornhill:
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They also had a promotion: Buy one cake slice and get another one free on Sundays (with purchases of drinks)
That's what we did - Chai Teas and cake
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Vanilla Chai on the left and Chai on the right
The teas were good, but nowhere near the Lion Chai we sampled before. 
The vanilla was a lot sweeter than the Chai, but they were both tasty (if a little foamier than usual)

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Sky High Fudge Brownie Cheesecake
This cake was awful! The brownie bottom was almost rock solid and you could tell that the cake had been sitting out for days and it wasn't fresh at all. Of the three sky high layers, we could only eat the cheesecake layer and the other two were write-offs.

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Mocha Crumble cake
We should have known when they served this to us that it was going to be a disaster. 
We thought, since it was the last slice of this particular cake on display, that it must be very popular and maybe one of their best cakes. We were so wrong - the cake was super crumbly (probably from sitting out the longest) and super sweet. It literally fell apart as we sliced our forks through it. Disaster. 

Overall: Terrible cake experience at Symposium Cafe. I would not recommend ordering cake here and we probably should have clued in when we saw more people eating meals here than ordering dessert. 

Website: http://www.symposiumcafe.com/thornhillrestaurants.html

Friday, 16 January 2015

Joons Korean Cuisine

Joons' Special Dakgalbee is what they're known for here:
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Menu
Dakgalbee is a Korean hot plate dish made with chicken and cabbage. According to Wikipedia , it's a popular dish for University students since it's cheap and there's a lot of it. Eureka! It makes sense that it's at the Annex right next to U of T. At Joons, you can order additional toppings for $2 each like rice cakes, sweet potatoes, cheese and noodles. 

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Original Spicy Dakgalbee for two with chicken and assorted seafood (baby octopus, mussels and shrimp) and additional toppings of cheese, sweet potatoes and noodles
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It's so good! The chili pepper paste adds flavour to the whole dish and just makes it work so well together. The sweet potatoes are fantastic at absorbing the flavour of the dish and the cheese and noodles actually also make a huge difference in the taste of the Dakgalbee. 

Overall: Awesome cheap meal at Joons as usual. A definite must try if you're in Koreatown!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Aberdeen Delicatessen

This plaza on Midland near Finch has been around for a while, but every time I pass by - I think of it as new. I keep saying that I'll try out some of the food places here "one day" and I haven't really gotten around to it. Until I heard someone mention that Aberdeen Delicatessen has really good Hong Kong Milk Tea, then suddenly, the plaza was on my radar. 
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Two cups of Hong Kong Milk Tea
Really creamy, smooth and delicious! They do serve really good HK Milk Tea here. 

However, I found this more fascinating: 
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Tea in shot glasses! Very cute
The Asian Way of taking shots (LOL)

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4 Kind of Fungus Soup
It was pretty watery and not particularly good. 

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Barbecue Chicken and Liver Skewer, White Rice and Ginger Rice
The skewer looked good, but I didn't know that there was liver and a huge chunk of fat on the skewer. Apparently, you're supposed to eat the fat chunk with the pears and green onions underneath to cut the fattiness. The ginger rice was really ginger-y. 

Overall: I would come back for the Hong Kong Milk Tea, but probably pass on the food. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Mexican Amigos

Mexican Amigos opened earlier last year in the Galleria mall between Leslie and Don Mills on York Mills Road. 
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And we came on a very snowy day

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Chips and salsa to start

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Carranza s platillo combinado (combo platter for two)
There were 2 mini chicken burritos at the top, 4 cheese quesadillas, 2 beef tacos and 2 chicken enchiladas and we got rice and refried beans on the side. 
I wasn't really a fan of the rice or refried beans - oh well. 

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I really like the sampler option! As a food blogger, I always want to try everything on the menu (but of course, my stomach always protests), so this was a great introduction to Mexican Amigos' offerings. 
The burritos were good and I liked that they baked it with cheese and topped it with a fresh slaw. The cheese quesadillas were very cheese and great with the hot sauce. The hot sauces were really good too - we liked experimenting with the jalapeno hot sauce and the habanero (?) hot sauce. The tacos were okay, but I would say the enchiladas were my favourite on the plate - they were drenched in sauce and baked with cheese on top and inside. Yum. 

Overall: I thought they did decent Mexican food and the service was quick. 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

North Express

January 6, 2015
This place has become one of my go-to spots when I'm in the area.
And they finally have a take-out menu! 
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I think the prices are a little cheaper than North next door, but I'm not too sure since I've only ever eaten at North Express.

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Massive Sandwiche for $6.95 (excluding tax)
It's a little bigger than a foot long sub.

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So colourful! There's tabbouleh, cabbage, sauteed onions, kobideh (of course), hummus, babaganoush and more in this deliciously tasty sandwiche.
It's definitely got some tangy-ness and a tiny hint of sourness, but it's nothing overpowering and there's so many veggies packed in. Delicious!

November 1, 2014

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Chicken shawarma sandwich
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Also on a fresh laffa and with all the accompaniments
This time they were much quicker at serving us and preparing our orders. However, I think they haven't quite worked out all the issues with their dry chicken yet because the chicken shawarma sandwich (despite having a lot of sauce from the hummus, babaganoush and tahini) was still really dry. Conclusion: I think the Koobideh is the go-to sandwich at North Express.

October 28, 2014


Ever since I ate at Taftan Kebab, Persian food has been on my mind and I recalled that my coworkers mentioned that there was a place near Yonge and Steeles called North that served really good Persian food. So the next time I was in the area, I decided to grab dinner at North (Shomal). 
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We were all set to walk in the restaurant when I noticed that there was a store next to it called North Express serving take-out of the North menu items. They recently opened a few days before we dropped by - so we had excellent timing to try out their new offerings. The menu probably isn't as extensive as next door's, but they had cheap sandwiches and lunch/dinner specials.
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Koobideh sandwich on a freshly made laffa
Kobideh sandwich
I put a little of everything into my sandwich: marinated olives, eggplant, tabbouleh, babaganoush, hummus, beets, tomatoes and cabbage salad.
And it was all delicious! A little tangy from all the accompaniments which offset the doughy bread and I thought it made the koobideh (which is a Persian minced meat kebab) stand out more.
Chicken Breast Lunch Box
Chicken Breast Lunch Box
I think this might have been been better in concept than execution. The vegetables were simply steamed and lightly seasoned - but they didn't survive the journey home. Unfortunately, it tasted like they absorbed the smell of the plastic from the container as did the chicken. The chicken was also really dry after the trip home. The only thing intact was the salad.

Overall: We kind of wrote off the lunch box, but the sandwich was fantastic! The service was a little slow, but it's understandable since they recently opened and weren't really sure how to run the take-out counter yet. We will definitely be back for more sandwiches because the koobideh we had was delicious and great value for money. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Celestin

January 2, 2015
We liked Celestin so much that we bought another Groupon and came back.
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Lobster with squid ink ravioli
I think the concept was really creative, but the actual dish fell a little flat for me. The squid ink ravioli looked cool, but squid ink has a distinct taste and I felt the sauce didn't really complement it.

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Escargot Bordelaise
In this case, I felt like the plate emphasized the small portion of escargots. It was okay, but definitely not the best snails we've had - I feel like a simple butter sauce would have been better than this sauce.

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Steak Frites
The steak was cooked to a medium rare and it was decent.

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Cassoulet
We liked this dish last time, so we ordered it again. However, this time the dish was really dry and a little blander without seasoning.

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Civet de Lapin
Braised rabbit with red wine sauce
I thought this would be good! The French are known for making a good rabbit, but I didn't really like it. I'm not sure if it was the red wine sauce or the braised rabbit, but something didn't work for me here.

Overall: Again, service was REALLY slow. Granted it appeared to be a busier than usual Friday night, but the food came out at a snails pace and it wasn't as good as the last time we were here.

December 2, 2014

Celestin has been running a promotion on Groupon for a while offering $70 worth of French Dinner Cuisine for $39. I've heard about Celestin's classy French cuisine for a while, so I figured this was a good opportunity to try it out with the Groupon. 
The restaurant was located in a former bank and has a nice elegant feel to it.
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Grenouille Sautée
Frog legs with garlic tortellini and parsley puree
The frog legs were nicely grilled and the sauce was delicious. The tortellini felt a little out of place though. 

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Veau Poêlé
The veal was nice, but my favourite part was the crispy potato ring on top. 
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Cassoulet
Duck confit, cured pork belly and garlic sausage on braised beans
This dish was really beautifully done. Delicious and so tasty with the crispy duck leg, flavourful pork belly and soft sausage. The braised beans also absorbed the flavour from the meats and the sauce which made the whole dish a lot more cohensive. 

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Molten Lava cake
Very tasty and chocolatey 

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Semifreddo mousse
I liked the tart raspberries on top of the semi freddo mousse, but it really tasted like melted ice cream to me. 

Overall: Nice French meal at Celestin. The kitchen and the service was a little slow, but the food was delicious and pricey considering the portion sizes.

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