Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Real Jerk

The already popular Jamaican restaurant was made even more famous earlier in the year since it was the filming location for Rihanna's "Work" music video featuring Drake. 

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Banana Fritters and Dumplings with oxtail gravy
It's fascinating to know that every culture/type of cuisine has a different type of dumpling (especially since I just had Mandu less than a week ago).
The combination of oxtail gravy and dumplings were really good! The oxtail gravy was amazing and the dumplings were dense but similar to Chinese youtiao but not as crispy. 
The banana fritters were really good too with a nice slightly gummy texture and not heavy on the banana flavour. 

20160628_211334Goat curry and jerk chicken with rice and coleslaw
The chicken was super juicy, tender and so flavourful and it wasn't spicy at all.  The goat curry was delicious too with tender morsels of nicely seasoned and flavoured goat - the curry was definitely a spicier than the jerk chicken, but the rice and coleslaw helped cut the heat and served as a great complement. 

Overall: The Real Jerk has delicious Jamaican food and big portions. Definitely worth a try!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Burrito Bandidos vs. Burrito Boyz vs. Chipotle

June 27, 2016  - Burrito Boyz @ Adelaide & University
The view from the window...mmm
Burrito bowl with mix of chicken and steak
A few things just about this burrito bowl: there was a lot more rice in the bowl than burrito (my friend got the burrito and I got the bowl). The cheese was very melty, beans were good, veggies were crisp, tangy and fresh and the chicken and beef were not too dry and seasoned well. However, I found that the burritos here are better than the bowls - something about how it's all laid out in the container rather than being smushed together into a portable wrap just doesn't taste the same. 
Overall though, I would prefer a burrito bowl at Burrito Boyz over Burrito Bandidos and Chipotle (the portion is bigger and the ingredients when all tossed together are just tastier - probably mostly because of the guacamole that comes for free!). 

February 25, 2016 - Burrito Bandidos @ Grosvenor

Shrimp and Steak Burrito Bowl
I've become a huge fan of burrito bowls - less messy and cumbersome to hold and you can eat it at your own pace (and save the rest for later). 
The delicate and tiny sweet shrimp and tougher steak strips served as good contrast and they both had a lot of flavour.  Add that with the sauces, rice, guacamole and everything else and you've got a recipe for success since it tasted delicious all together. 

March 15, 2014 - Burrito Bandidos @ Grosvenor
Mixed Burrito Bowl
Mixed Pork and Chicken burrito bowl
I actually wasn't a huge fan of the chicken and steak mix - I found both were a little dry and despite all the sauce, the burrito bowl just felt like it was missing something.

Halibut Burrito Bowl Halibut Burrito Bowl
Halibut burrito bowl
I loved the gigantic piece of fried halibut on top of the burrito bowl, but it didn't really seem like it fit in with the rest of the bowl's Mexican flavours. 

June 27, 2014 - Chipotle @ Yonge and Dundas

Chipotle chicken bowl
Chicken burrito bowl
Despite the appearance, there was actually a lot of food in this burrito bowl.  They gave me a lot of corn and salsa (but not as much rice as I would have liked).  The chicken was seasoned well and very flavourful and moist.  It would have been even better with free guacamole. :)
Also, I found that the burrito bowls here are better than the actual burritos.

Oct 15, 2014 - Chipotle @ Yonge and Dundas
Chicken Burrito (although you can't see the chicken)
A huge Chipotle burrito consisting of mostly rice and beans as you can tell.
It's super filling because there's so many carbs, but flavour wise - I felt like it got lost a bit with all the rice and beans.  I'm also not a big fan of their burrito preparation - they only warm up the tortilla instead of warming/toasting the entire burrito the way they do at Burrito Bandidos.

Overall: I think Burrito Bandidos is much better than Chipotle for actual burritos (and you get free guacamole which is very important in the burrito decision), but Chipotle has more convenient locations and they have pretty good burrito bowls. 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Myungdong Kalkuksu Noodles & Shabu Shabu

Despite being a restaurant that advertises Noodles & Shabu Shabu in their name, interestingly enough, it's their dumplings that keep me coming back for more.

The myeongdong dumplings
The dumplings are gigantic and really yummy! They have the perfect combination of thin wrapper, lots of tasty meat and veggies and they've trapped all this flavourful soup inside when they're steamed.

Shabu Shabu for 2 people with kimchi, a citrusy dressing salad, and some sauces (soy sauce with lemon, peanut sauce and hot sauce)

The non-spicy soup base
It also had some sweet potatoes inside.

Leafy greens including napa cabbage and bok choy, rice cakes, mushrooms and beef
All very fresh and yummy after being cooked in the broth.  The rice cakes were pretty interesting - they had stuff inside (sweet potato in the yellow one and yam in the purple one) and it was like a surprise with each bite. The beef was pretty good. 

Overall: Good shabu shabu experience, but I would still say that the number one draw to the restaurant is those delicious and huge dumplings. It can also get super busy, so be prepared to wait in line (even though the service is usually pretty fast). 
Myungdong Kalkuksu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Dickens Cafe

Located in an indoor strip mall north of 16th Avenue is Dickens Cafe, a popular Hong-Kong Style cafe. 

Tomato soup, cream (borscht) soup and garlic toast came with our lunch
The cream soup was a little gelatinous and gucky - go with the tomato soup.

Pork chop with gravy sauce on fried rice
It was okay, not the best gravy sauce and the pork chop was okay - the cheese was a strange touch (in my opinion). 
Baked chicken with cheese in tomato sauce with spaghetti
This was pretty good. The baked cheese was good on top and the chicken was boneless and very meaty.  I found the sauce was a little more sour like they used tomato sauce rather than ketchup (which is usually what they use in HK cafes to make the sauce sweeter). 

Portuguese chicken with rice 
The sauce was a little too sweet (too many carrots?). It would have been tastier if they seasoned it with some salt or added something a little saltier rather than sweet (or added a starch like potatoes to mix it up). I'm comparing this to the now-closed Macau Portuguese Food stall (and I will continue to search for something as good as their Portuguese Chicken and Baked Chicken Spaghetti in tomato sauce 😭).

Seafood spaghetti in cream sauce
The cream sauce felt a little one-dimensional and there wasn't any depth to the sauce (or seasoning), but there was a quite a bit of seafood. 
HK Milk tea was good!

Overall: A decent meal and very quick service, but my search for Baked Chicken Spaghetti and Portuguese Chicken will continue...

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Tinto Bar de Tapas

I bought Tinto's Groupon after my Bar Isabel Spanish Tapas experience. I was excited since it would be a lot cheaper for two people with the set price at $89. The Groupon advertised a 4 course tapas meal with wine. When we got there, we were told that it was 2 hot tapas, 2 cold tapas, a platter and two desserts. 

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Roja ceviche 
The red ceviche was piqant and flavourful - a good start to the meal. 

The platter was okay, but it was definitely a tiny portion with very petite bite-sizes for each item. It also felt like the sauces took up more space on the charcuterie board than the actual meats or queso. 

Chicken leg with kale salad
Two chicken legs for $14 regular price? I kinda couldn't believe it. The dish was also rather salty. 

Chicken leg and Oysters. 
The sauces were really good, but the oysters were a little tiny.

I found the skin was a little too doughy, but it was tasty inside.

After seeing the portions of the tapas, we knew we had to get more food, so we ordered the $21 paella hoping that it could help fill us up. 
It looked really pretty - but again, it was a very tiny portion and super salty with the seafood and the rice. The paella dish had a nice crispy crust with the rice, but the rest of it was a miss with the mussels were completely dried out and seafood over-salted. It was my first time having paella with ribs in it, but the ribs were too dry. I wouldn't order this again (especially not with that price tag).

Torta and Creme Catalan
The creme catalan was different from how I remembered creme Catalan tasting in Spain, it was more like creme brulee. The torta was also a little strange since one of the layers was really hard (making it difficult to eat). 

Overall: The service was good, but the food was a miss for me (especially after eating at Bar Isabel).  The portions were really tiny and most things were really salty. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sharetea @ Yonge & Wellesley

June 22, 2016
I was a little disappointed last time I was at Sharetea, but I figured I'd give it another shot and get my usual Taro bubble tea here. 
Taro milk tea
It was okay. I asked for less sugar and less ice, but for some reason, asking for that made my drink a little flavour-less. It was diluted and the tapioca was a little gummy.  I'm not sure I'm a fan of this location or Sharetea after this.

October 26, 2015
Ever since I had the Hokkaido milk tea at Green Grotto, I've been obsessed with the drink. 
It's just so creamy and rich and flavourful. So I was pretty excited when I saw it on the menu at Share Tea. 
The tea was good, but not as good as the Green Grotto's.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Millie Patisserie & Creamery

Today was a huge foodie adventure with Burger's Priest, Kekou Gelato and now Millie Patisserie. 
Millie Patisserie & Creamery is the sister shop to the original in Kensington and they're known for their matcha mille feuille. 
Matcha Mille Feuille 
So much matcha flavour in this delicate cake slice.  It seemed like every layer of the mille feuille had a layer of ground matcha and cream.  It's great for matcha lovers - but I think it was just too much powder for me and it was very pronounced throughout the cake. 
Strawberry Cheesecake 
A souffle cheesecake that was light, fluffy and DELICIOUS! It was creamy and airy and way better than Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecakes

Kekou Gelato

Even after that Burger's Priest burger, I was craving some dessert and there's so many options in the Queen and Spadina area. One of which was right across the street - Kekou Gelato (famous for it's Asian flavoured gelato). 
Clockwise from top Left: Black Sesame, Hong Kong Milk Tea and Rosewater Pistachio
I'm not a big fan of black sesame but the gelato was really true to the flavour and you could even see the black sesame pieces in the gelato.  The HK milk tea was DELICIOUS! I could eat a 1L tub of it - it was that good. It was perfectly sweetened HK milk tea in gelato form. 
The rosewater pistachio was heavier on the rosewater flavour than pistachio, but it was still pretty nice even if it wasn't the same level of condensed flavour as the HK milk tea or black sesame. 

The Burger's Priest @ Queen and Spadina

We were meeting up with a friend before the Ellie Goulding concert downtown and my friend had never tried The Burger's Priest - so we had to make this a stop for lunch. 
The Priest with the Option
The burgers here are amazing - I would rank them as delicious as Shake Shack (from what I remember), but not as deadly with all the butter.  I LOVE the oozy crispy Option (cheesy roasted portabello mushroom breaded and deep fried) - it's a MUST with every Burger's Priest burger. 😋

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Bar Isabel

Bar Isabel has been on many of my foodie friend's top restaurants in Toronto list for quite some time. And I finally had the opportunity to try it out with a friend.  The waiter patiently explained their menu and the option for a customizable tasting menu ranging from $55 and up.  We decided to take a leap of faith and give the kitchen free-reign over our menu. The waiter took our preferences down and helped us customize our meal. We said we were relatively adventurous eaters and my friend wanted oysters (but they didn't have them that night) and we wanted the octopus. 

Mussels - tangy, sweet and yummy
We didn't get oysters, but they gave us mussels that were similarity to the fresh shucked oyster experience. The mussels had that hint of tangy and sour flavour (that you would get from the lemon with oysters) and it had the fresh shucked presentation (with the ice) - A fun and playful presentation and a great spin. 

Queso, Shishito peppers, pan con tomate, chorizo
I really liked the queso, the chorizo was a little too dried for my taste (but it did have a lot of flavour) and the stuffed peppers were a tad spicy for me.

Crostini with cured pork and shaved fois gras
Sobrasata and Fois Gras
When the waiter explained that the shredded flaky stuff on top was shaved fois gras - I was blown away.  It was SO COOL in that it looked like cheese, but it melted in your mouth and you got that rich dense taste of fois gras.  The toast and cured pork were great too, but I was just fascinated with the shaved fois gras which was delicious. 

Albacore tuna and warm sweetbreads on top and pickled tomatoes
Tuna and Sweetbreads
This was delicious too! I loved the sweet fresh tuna and sweetbreads (thymus or pancreas).  The raw tuna was slightly chilled and when paired with the warm and dense sweetbreads - it made such a good combination. 

bone marrow and chimichurri sauce
Bone Marrow
It was good, but I wished it had a bit more flavour and crispiness to it. It felt like it was too simple compared to the complex and delicious flavours of the other courses. 
shrimp spring salad with mandarins, asparagus, watermelon radishes
Shrimp and Snow Pea Leaves
I had no idea snow pea leaves were a thing. The dish was tasty, but not as outstanding as some of the other items. 

Spicy Cauliflower & Romesco
Spicy cauliflower and spring salad 
The salad was nice and I think it would have been really appealing to the eye, but the colours were lost on us in the red-tinted dining room. 

1/4 Octopus with chorizo
I was pretty excited for this! It looked so good and it fully delivered because the octopus was so tender and flavourful and had a great accompaniment in the hearty bean stew. 

Overall: Great experience at Bar Isabel (a little pricey at $75 pp), but the food was delicious and the service was fantastic!